Better than you think, but I need MOAR
Kiki on 03/13/2016 updated on 04/30/2016
Ok, so. I actually enjoyed this film waaay more than I thought I would. However, I couldn’t shake the sense that it wasn’t quite reaching its full potential. This could have gone down in cinematic history as a satire on par with Hot Fuzz or In the Loop.
The problems as I see it are thus: this concept is pure camp. EMBRACE it. ENJOY it. There are elements of real fun - Matt Smith as Mr Collins being a particular highlight (who seems to understand that he is in a film called Pride, Prejudice and ZOMBIES, for goodness sake). Lena Headey also seems to be having a ball as Lady Catherine, though for some reason, they neglect to have her in one single fight scene. Guys, when you have Lena Headey, use. Her. Yet somehow the film never feels as though it is reaching its full potential. It’s odd – the world-building is excellent, and a brief narration really helps set the scene – but maybe it wasn’t quite enough? There’s an element of not being fully satisfied with what is onscreen that is hard to articulate. Maybe we needed to see more of the danger, more of their day to day life. I mean, more of zombies, in Georgian England? Who could resist that?
Thinking about Lena Headey actually feeds into my next point. One interesting thing about the film is that the Eternal Rule (aka: show, don’t tell) is followed some of the time. We are told that the Bennett sisters were trained by Shaolin monks to fight zombies, and then we actually see this in action, as well as their ongoing tactical training. This is excellent. Less excellent is telling us that Lady Catherine is the most prolific zombie killer in England, and then offering no evidence of this whatsoever, bar a painting and repetition of the fact . The same goes for telling us Rosings is the safest place in England, and us just…taking their word for it?
Some elements, whilst not the best, retain enough charm and likeness to the original to conceivably fit in with Jane Austen’s original ideas. One of these things is Bingley and Jane. Now, I love Bingley and Jane. Most iterations are entirely charming, and this one is no exception - you do root for them to actually get together. However, some things perhaps should have been changed – one that really sticks out is when Mrs Bennett tells Jane not to take the carriage to Netherfield to visit the Bingleys. Yes, by all means don’t take the relatively protected carriage as you cross ZOMIBE INFESTED COUNTRYSIDE (for real, they are everywhere!). No, instead it seems much safe to take a horse that scares easily, leaving you to walk through ZOMBIE INFESTED COUNTRYSIUDE ALONE. Seriously. Come on, now.
There are some really excellent parts to this – Lizzie and Darcy’s fight post-proposal #1 being one of them. The moment Lizzie screams ‘[Jane’s] SHY!’ and actually throws something, I thought, yes, this is the film for me. The ensuing fight is possibly my favourite since Catherine Zeta Jones and Antonio Banderas crossed swords in The Mask of Zorro. Both Sam Riley and Lily James do well with the different character beats, though damn, I didn’t half find his voice distracting at first. The overall dynamic between Lizzie and Darcy is pretty great – the atmosphere and changing relationship between the two of them from the original book seems authentically lifted and placed into this one. You can see that they notice each other (and really hate that fact) almost straight away. I did have a bit of a panic at the end, where I thought, ‘hang on, they can’t do this, can they? I read the book ages ago, I don’t know if they changed the ending?!’ This was when I realised I was actually quite invested in the film, so kudos to all involved.
Some things stuck out – namely, if you have cognizant zombies, would anyone consider trying to work with them. Surely someone would, no? That’s got to be an easier path than trying to kill them all in battle when for every one they kill, another is added to their ranks. However, I suppose the point does remain that they are zombies and one slip up could be pretty disastrous.
So, TL;DR, this film is okay. Don’t think too much about it, and you will likely be fine. But it’s a bit like a fun size Mars bar, fun whilst it lasts, but not truly satisfying.