Pride and Prejudice and Zombies Review!

Jondee here at the In Between,

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Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (PPZ) was directed and written by Burr Steers who also directed Charlie St. Cloud (2010). It is of course based on a novel by Seth Grahame-Smith who also wrote Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter which had a film out in 2012. Both works serve two masters; historical in the case of AL:VH and Jane Austen’s novel with PPZ and also touches of horror. One of the recent adaptations of the Austen novel was the 2005 film starring Keira Knightley as Elizabeth Bennett. PPZ has Lily James as Elizabeth who had a brilliant turn as Cinderella in last year’s Kenneth Branagh film. James is compelling as the lead. Here she returns from a fairy tale to a her Downton Abbey roots, but rolls back the years to the 18th century. James has some narration about a zombie attack and we get a rider who dismounts under armed guard. This is Colonel Darcy (Sam Riley who was the companion and raven in 2014’s Maleficent), this is a slight change to the book, but makes Mr. Darcy a warrior instead of enigmatic. Riley has the gruff voice and perfect as the lead. He joins an aristocratic gathering at the Featherstone estate and uncaps a vial of carrion flies that land on dead flesh. In this case, Darcy smashes a glass and uses the cup to stab the zombie, mostly odd screen violence, but it is nice to see the contrast of violence in this refined world. Darcy leaves and we track up stairs where a servant goes to check on a room of girls. One of the girls has a melted half of her face with a fluid leaking through her nose. It reaches out and darkness.

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We get the narration of Bennett patriarch, Mr. Bennett, played by Charles Dance. He tells his young daughters of the zombie plague spreading throughout England.  The zombies have London encircled in a wall, the wasteland In Between, and that has left the rest of the English countryside on its own. So this brings us to the Bennett household with Elizabeth, with her sisters prepping their weapons. Their mother, Mrs. Bennett (Sally Phillips) wants her daughters married while Mr. Bennett only wants them prepared so he had them trained at Shaolin monasteries against the upper class who send their children to train in Japan. Mrs. Bennett hopes that Jane (Bella Heathcote) will marry Mr. Bingley. We see the Bennett sisters getting ready flipping knives into sheathes strapped to their underclothes, sexy, but the film leaves us with that peek. At the party, Elizabeth eyes Mr. Darcy as Mr. Bingley (Douglas Booth) falls for Jane. Still, Darcy’s comments insult Elizabeth and she runs out. The zombie Mrs. Featherstone (Dolly Wells) stumbles towards her, but her head disappears in a blast by Mr. Darcy’s pistol. The zombie deaths are not particularly creative, but fun. The Bennet sisters return to the party with knives out and go into zombie slaying mode forming into a circle. The effectiveness of their team up is not seen again. Mr. Darcy is entranced at Elizabeth slaying prowess.

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Jane rides a horse to see Mr. Bingley, but encounters a zombie mother and child. At Mr. Bingley’s estate, Jane is ill, not zomiefied. Elizabeth has traveled there to check on her sister. She also sees Mr. Darcy there, friend to Mr. Bingley. Elizabeth watches Mr. Darcy slicing the trees with his sword outside of his window. Her mother and sisters have arrived in a carriage and Elizabeth takes Jane away. Jane recovers and we get a visit from her cousin, Parson Collins (Matt Smith). He is interested in Jane, but is forced to settle for Elizabeth. Smith is hilarious in every scene, awkward, he just doesn’t get it. He goes with the Bennett sisters go to town where they see the soldiers posted there for the zombie plague. Elizabeth is interested in Leftenant Wickham (Jack Huston) and she sees that Mr. Darcy does not like him. Collins tries to impress the Bennett sisters with his relation to his aunt, Lady Catherine de Bourgh, played by Lena Headey. She is introduced in a brief scene as a zombie slayer who has lost her left eye! Headey has all of the formal aristocratic airs, a step down from queen, who is dangerous, but rigid in protecting Mr. Darcy. Wickham takes Elizabeth on a horse ride to St. Lazarus, a church filled with zombies whom he says eat pig brains and not humans. This could change the course of the war or sending it sliding into the Apocalypse with four dark figures with top hats. The Jane Austen romance is intact for the most part with some zombie slaying action. Two samurai swords out of five!

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