PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES
Directed by Burr Steers
Starring Lily James, Sam Riley, Jack Huston
With a title almost as sincerely honest as Snakes on a Plane, but much more endearing, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is exactly what it promises, the classic tale by Jane Austen set amidst a backdrop of an England rife with brain-hungry zombies. Without taking itself or its premise too seriously, the flick by director Burr Steers is a faulty, but fun, time at the movies.
In case you skipped out on the Austen novel in high school literature, or failed to remember even the Cliff's Notes you skimmed, the plot is simple. Star-crossed lovers from different social classes not only must fight the opinions and pressures of those around them, but have the added bonus of the constant battle against the undead.
The humor and cleverness of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, originally found in the book of the same name, comes in glimpses of humor, wrapped in sincere storytelling. The day-to-day life of the Bennett sisters, led by Elizabeth (Lily James), is one that is no longer just about each girl finding their places as a woman in society (while waiting to be betrothed to a worry suitor), but one that also involves cleaning guns and Shaolin warrior training.
When the sisters are invited to a fancy ball, the introduction of Mr. Darcy (Sam Riley) shows him as a man with a driven demeanor, set to not give in to the absurd idea of love, while also mastering zombie relations the top degree.
The zombies alive in this world are ones that never cross into human-brain-eating until they've had an actual taste. To remedy this, Mr. Darcy finds a small horde and feeds them pig brains to suffice their appetites, while also allowing them to stay somewhat normal.
There's the other love battle taking place, involving George Wickham (Jack Huston), but at this point it's more about the blood and guts than the Austen love fest, and director Steers doesn't completely disappoint. There are moments that feel like they could use a little more "The Walking Dead," but the film satisfies its PG-13 rating.
Visually appealing, in terms of costumes and setting, the film does give in to certain cliche fright film attributes, mostly towards the end when an effects-heavy sequence pulls away from the tongue-in-cheek drama presented before it. And, several structure/time issues occur when the editing doesn't allow for a proper flow, most notably when a fight scene seemingly goes from dark night to midday with no explanation.
With enough humor and panache to set it apart from other trying fright flicks, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is the type of fun you need at the movies sometimes. If only reading the original Austen story was as entertaining.
Runtime: 1h 48min