It’s 19th century England and practically all of the Bennet sisters are on the look-out for eligible gentleman so that they can be married. But they have also been trained by their father (Charles Dance) to defend themselves from a growing outbreak of the infected undead. Zombies are an escalating problem in London but even that takes a backseat to romantic tensions and courtship woes, especially between the headstrong and confident Elizabeth (Lily James) and Mr. Darcy (Sam Riley).
Pride and Prejudice, the bestselling book by Jane Austen, has inspired millions over the years and has certainly become an enduring landmark in modern literature. When Seth Grahame-Smith used the set-up as inspiration for Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, many felt that this was just a cheap publicity stunt. However reading the book and now seeing the film, it becomes clear that parody is far from prevalent – this is actually a solid companion ‘what-if’ piece that offers something fresh to a story well loved by all.
Staying true to Austen’s seminal tale, the film manages to retain most of the qualities of the book – just with added zombies. You’d think that a movie with this title may go down a certain spoof route but this is far from the case. Director and screenwriter Burr Steers navigates this tricky task with a keen eye. The imminent threat of widespread infection makes the tension and suspense oddly dramatic and quite believable. The romanticism of the classic isn’t lost here either; with the entire cast playing to their iconic roles exceptionally well, with plenty of gusto and diligence to boot.
Lily James and Sam Riley do very well as Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy. Their constant bickering and repressed emotions serve to further a strong emotional core to the film. Support comes in the form of Bella Heathcote, Douglas Booth and Jack Huston who all hand in noticeable turns. Game of Thrones duo Charles Dance and Lena Headey add some nice gravitas to proceedings and Matt Smith steals his scenes as the hilarious Parson Collins.
It’s not a bad way to spend an evening but clocking in at almost 2 hours, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies does drag in the middle third. After a spirited opening and a very enjoyable final act, it leaves you ultimately satisfied and that’s no mean feat. With strong characterisation and a premise that surprisingly works, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is a pleasant but forgettable romp that certainly tries hard.
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Cast: Lily James, Sam Riley, Bella Heathcote, Matt Smith, Douglas Booth, Jack Huston, Charles Dance, Lena Headey Director: Burr Steers Writer: Burr Steers (screenplay), Seth Grahame-Smith (book), Jane Austen (characters) Released By: Lionsgate Certificate: 15 Duration: 108 mins Release Date: 27th June 2016