Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
Lily James, Sam Riley, Jack Huston, Matt Smith
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…daft, but mildly entertaining.
A film – in this case, one based on a novel – can’t get much more high-concept than to have its whole idea defined in its title. You might think, in fact, that such a limited concept would suit a five-minute comedy sketch more than a full-length feature. But Pride And Prejudice And Zombies stays watchable enough, because – for all its conceptual absurdity – it’s mostly played straight rather than for laughs. It’s not very good, but nor is it cringingly bad.
That said, the beginning is predictable, inevitable even, with a voice-over twist on Jane Austen’s famous opening line: “It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains.” The setting is (of course) early 19th-century England, where a veritable zombie plague has just wrought havoc. In the wake of the first wave of devastation, a massive wall has been built around London, and the rural estates of gentry like the Bennets have been fortified. The ultimate battle between the living and the undead – who will be aided by The Four Horsemen Of The Zombie Apocalypse – is yet to be staged.
The grotesquerie here is sub-Romero, and the choreographed/acrobatic fight scenes and dispatching of zombies with swords get tedious, but the emphasis is far more on the relationships between the living characters. Lily James is a credible Elizabeth Bennet, and Matt Smith is amusing in his small part as the infuriatingly unctuous Parson Collins. Unfortunately, Sam Riley is a tad insipid as Mr. Darcy, a role for which brooding charisma is crucial. Pride And Prejudice And Zombies is daft, but mildly entertaining. And the chocolate-box period “look” is easy on the eye.