Sunday, February 14, 2016

Film Review - Pride Prejudice and Zombies

Mr. Darcy (Sam Riley) is a very serious fellow. He is determined to keep the late 18th century  countryside free of vampires. At the films opening Mr. Darcy visits a country estate where he immediately notices lax security.   He enters the main room where the guests are playing cards. the lady of the house assures that no one present is infected. Darcy releases his carrion files that have a knack of finding dead flesh. The guests are annoyed by their buzzing but as Darcy rightfully points out the time to worry is when the buzzing stops.

Director Burr Steers crafts a delightful mix of old world prose and modern staking in Pride Prejudice and Zombies. The dialogue, country estates and characters live up to the Jane Austen tradition but the female leads mix their leggings with knives, their white gloves with swords and bustiers with the finest Chinese martial arts.

The setting is England in the later years of the 18th century. The military has had many battles with the zombie horde. They have left only one passable bridge into London for in the event that the Zombies gain strength the bridge can be blown trapping the Zombies in the city. Meanwhile out in the countryside reside our heroines. Jane (Bella Heathcourt) , the fairest of the four, Lizzy (Lily James) the feistiest who pledges that she would never give up her sword for a mate. Charlotte (Alising Luftus) and the youngest Lydia (Ellie Bamber) follow along in line.  The Bennet girls are all accomplished in the Chinese fight arts at the insistence of their dad (Charles Dance) while their mother (Sally Phillips) looks to marry them off.

Into the region strides Mr. Bingley (Douglas Booth) a very eligible bachelor and close friend of Mr. Darcy. He immediately locks onto Jane while Darcy and Lizzie spar emotionally and physically. Darcy's childhood friend turned rival Lieutenant George Wickham (Jack Hudson) appears complicating the relationship between Lizzie and Ms. Darcy. The zombies resurge soon after leading to a battle to save the city of London and England itself.

Lilly James shines as the main Bennet girl. She can play the lady when needed but refuses to be all smiles and courtesies.  She wields a ruthless blade when threading vampires appears but is intuitive enough to know when one poses no immediate threat and could be a source of information. Her foil is Sam Riley's Darcy a heavy sledgehammer that sees everything in black and white , good and evil, living and undead. Charles Dance turns in another in a series of strong performance as the Bennet Patriarch.  Look for Matt Smith in a strong comedic performs as Bennet cousin and would be suitor Parson Collins.

Pride, Prejudice and Zombies is a strong mix of a Jane Austen period piece and a modern zombie flick. The performances are strong, the sword work and fighting slick and the story sticks more or less to a traditional tale. If you are looking for women in serious hand to hand gory combat then this film will fill that urge.The cast and crew do a credible job that will have Jane Austen applauding instead of rolling over in her grave.

*** Out of 4.

Pride, Prejudice and Zombies | Burr Steers | U.S.A. | 2016 | 107 Minutes.

tags: Zombies, Jane Austen, Period Piece, England, 19th Century, Courting, Presentation.

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