Pride and Prejudice and Zombies - Can it Clear an Exceptionally Low Bar?

Marter | 5 Feb 2016 12:00
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Pride and Prejudice and Zombies has a very low bar to clear in order to be considered a success, and it did, indeed, do enough to be called exactly that.

Much of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies has characters conversing about nothing much of importance, saying things that seem silly or stupid given that we're currently living in 2016 and not the early 1800s, and then ending the sequence with a brief skirmish with some zombies. There isn't a ton of action, and what we get isn't particularly good, but it helps break up the monotony of a story we know pretty well. And, well, if Call of Duty is anything to go by, adding zombies to the mix can't possibly hurt - even if, in 2016, zombies have been done to death.

There's some humor within Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Much of it comes from characters basing their actions on what people did 200 hundred years ago, which seem silly and wrong to us nowadays. The film allows Elizabeth to call out and criticize some of these things, which is nice to see. And watching these women slay some zombies is enjoyable, even if director Burr Steers doesn't have much of a touch for action scenes. Or, maybe the action shot and edited this way to keep the PG-13 rating. A few scenes in particular appear as if they would have been created in a different manner if we were actually allowed to see all the violence taking place.

It feels almost redundant to mention that the film's set and costume design is great, as I don't think there's a period piece given a wide release that'll be released where that isn't the case. But, yeah, this is yet another one in which that rings true. You'll get sucked into the time period thanks to how gorgeous everything looks - until it gets zombie blood all over it, that is.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies isn't much of an actors' showcase, and you'll struggle to find any standout performances within it. Lily James is feisty in the lead role - and there's an inherent joy in seeing the latest live-action Cinderella beating up zombies - but not much more. Sam Riley is unbelievably dispassionate as the male lead - another live-action Disney alumnus, now that I think about it. None of the other sisters making any sort of impression, and even actors like Charles Dance and Lena Headey just kind of fade into the background. And Matt Smith gets a comedic relief role that's pretty funny, I guess.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies has a very low bar to clear in order to be considered a success, and it did, indeed, do enough to be called exactly that. While it doesn't do anything brilliantly - except for when it comes to its sets and costumes - it's just good enough in most of its areas to more or less work. It still deals with most of the themes from Pride and Prejudice, it has a few good laughs, and the zombies both change the plot enough to make it feel fresh and give us a reason for random action scenes. It would've been better with an R rating, and probably could have incorporated the zombies more often, but this is a "take what you can get" situation. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies could have been a lot worse, so I'll take this, be happy enough, and move on.

Bottom Line: Absolutely passable, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies does enough to be considered a success - given the low expectations placed upon it.

Recommendation: If you thought Pride and Prejudice needed zombies in order to make it good, well, this is exactly that.


If you want more of Matthew "Marter" Parkinson, you can follow him on the Twitter @Martertweet and check out his weekly movie podcast.

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