Hot Take: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies has a little bit of Austen, a little bit of gore and a little bit of humor that is occasionally dark and occasionally camp but none of those qualities come in large fulfilling doses and the movie fails to take on an identity. It’s not bad but not great.
Going into Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Could it be a true parody of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice? Could it be another zombie apocalypse flick using the 19th century novel for it’s backdrop? Will it be scary? Will it be funny? Will it be a love story? Well, somehow, it manages to be all of these things yet none of them at the same time.
The biggest downfall of the movie has to be it’s restraint. With a title like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, there’s really no reason to hold back and while the film’s title gives the filmmakers the freedom to be off-the-wall and zany, they never seem to color outside the lines. It’s only overindulgence is to insure we see gorgeous women in PG-13 combat with zombies and occasionally each other, because that’s how 19th century women during the zombie apocalypse pass the time. It’s the fantasy every teenage boy who has been to the Renaissance Faire has played out in his mind.
There is some entertainment crammed into Pride and Prejudice and Zombies but the dead spots prevent the entertainment from giving the film any real life. For a film essentially about the undead craving brains, it overthinks things instead of having a good time. It’s the zombie apocalypse, after all.
“Spoiler Free” Pros
- The Combat Scenes
Just what Jane Austen’s novel needed, a few duels and zombie slayings. Actually, the novel didn’t need it but I doubt anyone seeing Pride and Prejudice and Zombies would have objected if there were a few more.
- Lily James
Of all the cast, James as Elizabeth Bennett stands out. (Although Matt Smith also deserves some credit for his humorous turn as Mr. Collins.) James delivers a solid performance and is believable as both a strong-willed woman and a kick-ass zombie huntress.
“Spoiler Free” Cons
- The Zombies
Sure, they look “good” (the costume & production design of the film also deserves a nod, by the way) but what kind of zombies are they? As detailed in this video by Dan Casey of Nerdist, every film has a type of zombie. Unfortunately, very little time is devoted to the zombies of this movie to the point where we know very little about them.
- This Movie Needs An Identity
I think I’ve harped on this enough but it’s the defining flaw of the movie and what prevents it from truly working.