Exorcising Pride & Prejudice and Zombies

21 Feb

By Ed Sum (The Vintage Tempest)

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The gimmick of marrying Victorian age attitudes with pop culture is nothing new. Neither is trying to sell Shakespearean stylized takes on Star Wars, but woe be thy author who tries to find innovation in this weird mash-up genre where a famous piece of literature is married with geek culture. The movie version of Pride & Prejudice and Zombies does not add upon what Seth Grahame-Smith wrote in his twist of Jane Austen’s classic. A few minor changes exist to make the on-screen version palatable, including tossing every single variation of a zombie (from a baby to a butcher) into the presentation, but they feel minuscule when compared to the concept that’s being presented at large.

Burr Steers provided the screenplay adaptation of an action-comedy adventure where Elizabeth Bennet (Lily James) refuses to marry. Like the book, to improve their station in life, both she or her sisters should marry well-to-do men. Liz quite simply does not like the idea. Jane (Bella Heathcote), Kitty (Suki Waterhouse), Lydia (Ellie Bamber) and Mary (Millie Brady) are more receptive than her, and when the world is in the onslaught of being taken over by zombies, to court an easy life in this new world is neigh tough.

The origins of where these undead have come from went by too quickly, but it’s alluded that it came from the New World to here, and the outbreak is transmitted by bite. However, an individual does not turn until they get the taste of human brain for the first time. This detail makes for an interesting conundrum; just how truly normal are those who have been afflicted? They can consume pig’s blood and be normal, but just one mistake and the world will be ruled by humans neither truly alive nor dead. As a movie, it can not explore any more detail as already outlined in the book. As a film that looks at the failings of the Victorian age, a few details can be glossed in the romantic story that takes place between Liz and Darcy (Sam Riley). Although they have no interest in each another, the eyes they make towards one another are apparent.

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Matt Smith of Doctor Who fame offers the best humourous moments as the awkward priest also vying for the attentions of the ladies. Neither take him seriously, and that’s the funny part. Although his role is limited, the big question asked is if this leading man from a well-recognized television series is having problems landing a first-billed role?

As well-intentioned as this adaptation of a book to screen is, and trying to recognize a world steeped in Victorian age sentimentality, it gets the point across much like how Francis Ford Coppola depicted Lucy Westenra in his take of Dracula. They are doting and listless. Although deadly with a weapon, all but one are truly armed and dangerous. The film lacks bite, and it needed to pay attention to Jane Austen’s world more instead of a coming zombie apocalypse. Maybe if it was turned into a musical, then it could rise above the mashup product that it is. The issue with this type of sub-genre is in how unnecessary the product is in the grander scheme of trying to get people to read the literary classics.

What’s next? Dawn of the Dreadfuls (which looks at the early life and training of Liz Bennet) takes place before this movie and it’s unlikely to be made. Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter was made in 2012 and it never got the love from mashup enthusiasts. It should have been given the axe instead of a green light. Perhaps Queen Victoria: Demon Hunter is next, but let’s hope some ideas get exorcised fast. Tis better to come up with a new original idea for the cinema screen instead of finding the next book to adapt. Weariness is starting to set in.

3 Stars out of 5

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