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Friday, March 30, 2018

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

About ten years ago there was a small flurry of mash-ups of Jane Austen novels and horror tropes. There was Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, and Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters. Still waiting for Mansfield Park and Mummies.

After kicking around a while, and with Natalie Portman slated to star, the film version of the former finally got made in 2016. Portman was too old to play Lizzie Bennett, so that part went to Lily James, as one of five sisters who have been trained in the Shaolin arts to battle the zombies that plague 19th-century England.

Directed by Burr Steers, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies has feet in both an adaptation of the novel and a zombie movie, but never feels comfortable in either. I was surprised that almost all of the major beats of the book are there--even down to a couple of famous lines. The zombies seem almost superfluous. When they do arrive the battle scenes are darkly lit and confusing, so while this film may please Austen scholars it won't be too well received from fans of The Walking Dead.

There's some nice performances, especially a dashing Mr. Darcy (Sam Riley) and a fatuous Mr. Collins (Matt Smith). There's some spill over from Game of Thrones, with Charles Dance as Mr. Bennett and Lena Heady as Lady Catherine de Burgh (wearing an eyepatch).

I didn't hate Pride and Prejudice and Zombies--how can a film version of that novel be totally bad--but I didn't love it. I got the impression the makers of the film were going through the motions and didn't really think much of the product. It shows in the final product. Still, a chance to see women in Regency dresses fighting the undead shouldn't be passed up.

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