Pride and Prejudice and Zombies offers exactly what it says it will: Jane Austen’s classic story, spiced with legions of the undead. Is the joke good enough to base a whole movie on? It depends on how funny you think it is. If the phrase “zombie aristocracy” makes you crack a grin, read on.
The Bennet sisters brawl like it’s a ballet. If what you’re looking for is badass ninja ladies in exquisite dresses, you’re going to be well satisfied. Watching finely attired, high-society ladies throw down in hand-to-hand combat comes with a special, freeing joy. The stiflingly meticulous social graces of the early 19th century novel are replaced with honest punches. Yes, something sophisticated is lost, but busting out of the bodice feels fantastic. .
Mr. Darcy is played by Sam Riley, who has clearly been typecast for his ability to play the pasty misanthrope. His leather trench coat squeaks at every step. Every moody comment he makes in his nasally voice satirizes the dark-and-handsome types like Colin Firth. In fact, its melodramatic gloominess is one of the most comical parts of the entire movie. He’s as funny as Elizabeth is sexy. The true accomplishment of the film is that by the end of it you, like Elizabeth, somehow see him as a reasonably attractive hero and not an idiot.
The zombies are lacklustre. They’re too smart – not in an uncanny way, either. It’s just as if they’re regular people with particularly rotted faces. Either they’re conversing with the heroes, or they’re slow, crawling mounds of flesh. Neither are the stuff of nightmares. The few jump scares worked enough to feel cheap but fun, like a midway rollercoaster. Mostly, the zombies provide limbs for the Bennet sisters to gracefully sever.
With so much action, the relationships between the characters fall flat. Their changes of heart seem unpredictable. Luckily, the underlying plot of Pride and Prejudice gives all the characters just enough substance to get by. The new additions to the plot involving zombie politics and different battle territories are confusing, but luckily, irrelevant: it’s easy enough to tell safe zone from not-at-all safe zone.
This is not high literature. Anyone expecting a complex masterpiece of the human spirit will be sorely disappointed. But if what you’re looking for is an action-y romp that doesn’t take itself too seriously, and you’re willing to relax your inner academic long enough to cheer as decaying brains get splattered, this movie will be the most fun you’ve had in a while. Pride and Prejudice has been driven into an early grave by remake after remake. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies brings the story back from the dead.