Title: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
Describe This Movie In One Simpsons Quote: "Is this the end of Zombie Shakespeare?"
Rating Using Random Objects Relevant To The Film: Three-and-a-half D'arcys out of five.
Brief Plot Synopsis: Zoms nom in pom rom
Tagline: "It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains."
Better Tagline: That's actually better than anything I came up with.
Not So Brief Plot Synopsis: Someone — possibly the French — has unleashed a plague upon England that turns people into brain-eating zombies. Nevertheless, certain traditions must be maintained, such as the search for suitable spouses for the Bennet sisters. Jane (Bella Heathcote) seems a good match for Mr. Bingley (Douglas Booth), and Pastor Collins (Matt Smith) is showing some interest in Elizabeth (Lily James), who has also caught the eye of brooding zombie hunter Col. Darcy (Sam Riley). All that would be complicated enough even without ravening hordes of undead threatening to destroy London's social season. And mankind.
"Critical" Analysis: Do you like period romances of the English variety, in which well-mannered, upper-crust white people dance both literally and figuratively around societal conventions before finding true love? Me neither. So it's perhaps unsurprising that I must inform you Pride and Prejudice and Zombies wasn't bad at all. Admittedly, my enjoyment may just be an outgrowth of my desire to see every episode of Downton Abbey end in an orgy of graphic violence (which kind of happened last week!).
Details hew pretty closely to Austen's original novel (I haven't read PPZ: The Book): the five Bennet sisters (now shaolin-trained badasses), their various suitors (so many suitors), betrayal, confusion and, finally, true love. The primary difference being the merger of Austen's dialogue with kung fu fighting. The London of PPZ is far from the post-apocalypse we've come to expect from brain-eating cinema, though that outcome is viewed as more or less inevitable. The instability of Britain's Regency period is here explained as the result of the Crown's war against the zombies.
On the plus side, it appears the best way to kick-start women's rights in any given society is by introducing an undead horde.
Certainly, Austen's novel was lauded for her realistic depiction of female characters, with Elizabeth the most independent and free-thinking of the lot. In PPZ, thanks to the fact that "decapitation" and "battlefield triage" have replaced "decoupage" and "embroidery" as necessary domestic skills, the ladies are just as formidable as the gentlemen. More so, in the case of Lady Catherine de Bourgh (Lena Headey), the (allegedly) "deadliest swordswoman in the land." "Allegedly," because she doesn't have any action scenes.
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Having said that, a fairly lethal drinking game could be devised around the...prominence of James's bosoms. If you did a shot every time Elizabeth's bodice heaved, you'd be dead unless your name was Marion Ravenwood.
Riley (best known as the doomed Ian Curtis in Control) isn't your typical Mr. Darcy, in that he kind of reminded me of the adult Mordred from Excalibur , which now that I think about it isn't the highest of compliments. And while I never really warmed to Matt Smith during his Doctor Who tenure, he's definitely the best part of the movie, playing a barely closeted Pastor Collins.
Still, I can't help feeling a little queasy about the further legitimization of fan fiction. I noticed with some amusement that Austen is credited as a "co-author" with Seth Grahame-Smith of the PPZ novel, which is a bit like saying Warren Zevon and Lynyrd Skynyrd are co-authors of "All Summer Long" with Kid Rock. 50 Shades of Grey was bad enough that I'm a little hesitant encouraging further efforts by recommending Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, but you can certainly do worse for escapist fluff.
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is in theaters today. Please keep your Kirk/Spock slash screenplays to yourselves.