Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice” is a seminal work of fiction. The story of Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy is intensely memorable and incredibly unique, with strong female characters who find empowerment despite the boundaries placed upon them by 19th century standards.
Through Elizabeth’s eyes, we see her grow out of her prejudiced ways to discover that some people are more than your immediate judgments of their character. There is nothing wrong with parodying this famed novel by placing the setting into the middle of a terrifying zombie apocalypse, which is exactly what “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” should be. Yet, despite its attempt to place famed characters into a humorous setting, the movie was poorly executed.
Elizabeth Bennet (Lily James) is a woman living in 19th century London. She mainly concerns herself with honing her fighting skills against the zombie apocalypse, which has greatly affected the citizens of London, but her family is also preoccupied trying to find her someone to marry. When she meets Colonel Darcy (Sam Riley) she seems interested in him, but she discovers that he is callous and prideful.
Their lives continue. Elizabeth continues to train and meet other men who wish for her hand in marriage, all the while Darcy fights against the hordes that threaten to destroy London. Yet, they still seem to encounter each other in random places.
There are several times where the intention of “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” attempts to be both an homage and a parody of classic Jane Austen and 19th century love stories, which would be a great combination if the movie were ever funny.
The jokes come off poorly and only a few jokes actually deserve a laugh, although the laugh is nothing more than a slight chuckle. The tone of the film intends to be humorous, but it grounds itself in action movie fare.
The film doesn’t work as an action movie either. The characters become nothing more than bland action hero tropes, which means reducing amazing emotional characters like Darcy and Elizabeth to nothing more than a checked box of different stereotypes.
The film intends to bring them above their stereotypes by introducing character developments in the second act of the film, but by this point I was so distracted by the film’s failings that I found myself hating the characters. But besides boring action heroes, there are failures of why this film doesn’t even work as an action film. There is absolutely no action in the film. The scenes of fighting are distracted by close-ups and random arm movements that turn itself into the most generic of fight choreography. The only interesting fight scene is in the second half, but it has absolutely no reason to be in the movie because of how the plot has progressed.
With horribly constructed characters, poor attempts at humor, terribly choreographed fight scenes and complete unfaithfulness to its subject matter, the only thing that saves “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” is interesting costuming, makeup and a few action scenes that are enjoyable.
Of course, who really cares? Your zombie movie could feature the worst makeup in the world, but as long as it has an amazing story and interesting characters it would be ten times better than anything “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” has attempted to pull out from the grave.
In closing, I would just like to say that I wish this film had been buried, and not risen like its titular monsters.
Rating: 1/5 stars