Before you skim until the end, hold on for a while. It’s not nearly as horrible as it sounds. In fact, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is quite an interesting film that tries to present the essence of Pride and Prejudice and sprinkles zombies in top. Now, the film is not without its flaws but it’s still very enjoyable and entertaining.
It opens with a voiceover citing the words of Jane Austin’s novel, albeit being changed for the genre of the film. It sets up the mythology well and the following 20 minutes are promising and pull you into the world. And it’s not a very feminist world in contrast to the film. Women are forced into arranged marriages and are scolded when they voice their opinions.
Our main characters have trained martial arts in China to fight against the zombies who have been taking over the world and are not really subordinate to the rules. In the film, however, there is a big difference between being taught in China vs being taught in Japan. Japan is the high-profile place to train and China is for those with limited financial abilities.
Of course, the fighting styles picked up across the world are allegedly wildly different in terms of demeanor. Sadly, this is one of the main flaws. It so overly stated how much distinction there is between the two techniques that when we do see fighting of both sides, it’s straight out disappointing. That was a big miss as the film relies on quick-cut action and iffy visual effects. Some great, actually Eastern fighting and shooting techniques would have made the film much more pleasing to the eye and mind. That said, what’s seen is not bad but simply generic.
As far as the story goes, we have all these bits and pieces from Pride and Prejudice with some zombie information added in that feel somehow disconnected from each other, as if there is something missing which leaves a feeling of confusion. But it’s not the mild incoherence that faults the film as much as its lack of personality. In the beginning it seems like it will be different from what we’re used to but that feeling quickly fades as the plot starts getting convoluted and some side stories end up going nowhere. Nevertheless, all the relevant character arcs are quite developed.
Lily James and Sam Riley play Elizabeth and Darcy close to what they are in the classic. They almost fit the descriptions perfectly even if Darcy is more unlikable and repulsive than necessary at first. The real star is James; her performance makes this film better than it is. She brings gravitas and charisma, which combined with her witty and sarcastic portrayal of Elizabeth Bennet, that elevate the film and saves it. What’s more her and Sam’s characters are well-developed. As for the other actors and characters—they get the job done but it’s no good trying to tie up their loose ends as they are far too many for this type of film.
The music fits the scene of total absurdity, making it feel authentic for the feminist movie it tries to be. Yet, the feminism in their world is equal to none. This is what I also appreciated, they didn’t change the world just to add feministic ideas but rather changed the way the characters act. It was unthought-of for a woman to make snarky comments and stand up for herself. Yet this is what Lizzie does and some admire her for this, but she’s mostly glared at with unbelieving eyes whenever she does something irrational for that time period. It is more feministic than the book, the parody of which, this was based on.
In short, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is a film that requires no thinking as everything is spoon-fed to the viewer, expects you to suspend disbelief, shut off and have fun. Ultimately, this is what happens and achieves its purpose to entertain at the expense of full coherence and uniqueness.
Rating: 6.5/10 stars