“To succeed in polite society, a young woman must be many things. Kind… well-read… and accomplished. But to survive in the world as WE know it, you’ll need… other qualities.”
This film is adapted from Seth Grahame-Smith’s book, the parody of Jane Austin’s critically acclaimed novel. It’s 19th century England but not as we’re familiar with it. In an alternative land, the Black Plague has caused the long since deceased to rise from their graves. So attending the dance, keeping up with latest dress fashions and finding a rich husband is hardly the most pressing things on the minds of Miss Elizabeth Bennet (Lily James) and her battle-trained kindred.
Instead, their father, Mr Bennet (Charles Dance) saw it more applicable to have them trained for battle since childhood to take on the bloodthirsty zombie hordes of England. Elizabeth joins forces with the dark and handsome Mr Darcy (Sam Riley) where they fall in love whilst cutting through the heads and limbs of the walking dead. This movie is a thrill ride full of action packed, bloodied scenes that adds to Austin’s explorations of class, manners, morality and human nature with lashings of badass martial arts but not so much clean table dinners.
The movie has many of the major plot points of the original story, Pride & Prejudice, with the additions of blood lust zombies impairing our heroes’ quest at every corner. In the original story, Lydia runs away with Wickham (Jack Huston). The same occurs in this but he takes her into zombie-territory. This movie is impossible to take seriously and it shouldn’t be. Due to how serious they have tried to do it, it’s a comedy and the Jane Austen elitists will have no trouble rippig into this film. They’ll have a field day. They’ve tried too hard to make it dark and serious but I enjoyed it nonetheless. As any period drama should, it has marvellous set pieces as well as excellent costumes. It was great see the period drama genre defying gender roles with the Bennet sisters preparing for the dance by having concealed weaponry under their sweet innocent dresses.
The general aesthetics of the movie were very good but its got nothing on the original Pride & Prejudice television series but is miles better than that travesty starring Keira Knightley. I enjoyed Charles Dance (Game Of Thrones) as Mr Bennet bring to the table the same wit and one liners that I so loved from the book and the television series, Pride & Prejudice. The thing with Charles Dance is that you can be safe that you’re going to get a great performance from him in whatever role he is in. He’s a great actor and a talent to the industry. He’s the character that brings a serious, and humorous charm to the story from the get go. It’s great to see a female lead in a role of this caliber. Seeing the male characters in ‘the damsel in distress’ position was a refreshing change as we saw with Mr Bingley (Douglas Booth). It was a gender role reversal, for the better in my opinion.
“My daughters were trained for battle sir, not the kitchen”
Mr Bennet To Parson Collins
Jack Huston plays the deceptive and deceitful Wickham whilst Sam Riley plays the quiet, seemingly arrogant and rude Mr Darcy. Both give good performances and I think Sam gave me a good vibe as Darcy but also the rapport between Riley and Huston onscreen was excellent. Sam was a great Darcy but in my opinion, anyone who plays Darcy post-1995 will always be in the shadow of Colin Firth. I have yet to see a portrayal of Darcy that has matched Colin Firth after this time. Sam portrayed the coldness very well. He captured the seriousness and the lack of love down to a fold. He even managed to add in the consistent emotionless stares and forthright personality of Darcy as well as ‘the pretty boy who isn’t interested in the childish whims of matchmaking’ side of the character. He’s pragmatic, distrusting yet caring and the coldness of the eyes but most importantly his pride and class obsession. This was down to a good script as well.
Matt Smith (Doctor Who) and Lena Heady (Game Of Thrones) play Parson Collins and the legendary Lady Catherine De Bourgh. Collins is just so awkward to be around. He’s very chatty and his presence makes the whole room fill up with an awkward aura. His depiction of Collins is very much like his 11th doctor in Doctor Who. He’s in your face and doesn’t have any idea about the concept of personal space. He’s amusingly irritating. Heady as Catherine De Bourgh is truly excellent. Donning the eyepatch, she’s basically playing Cersei Lannister again. She doesn’t care what she says. She’s brutally honest and has all the best lines. Heady is a tour de force and she’s full of the witty banter despite her obsession of class, like not letting Darcy marry beneath him. She developed a reputation for herself of being a legendary warrior as well as being legendary with that sharp tongue of hers, that she could so easily shatter glass with.
The general cinematography was good as well and at times, I felt that I was in a video game due to some bits being from the point of view of the zombie and when a zombie is killed (again), you can see a bloodstained cam. I found bits like that interesting and intriguing yet very well-thought out. It’s not your typical British movie following cultural conventions and social norms. It’s very liberal if I am honest. I also enjoyed the shots of the landscape and the musical score by Fernando Velázquez (Crimson Peak).
Lily James (War & Peace) is an up and coming actress getting some good roles. She’s good in this and her fighting scenes were top-notch. I really enjoyed her performance and her resolve in different situations. She’s very Arya Stark or Brienne Of Tarth so to speak. This movie dragged at times and became tedious but it’s a fun movie to watch. In order to appreciate this movie properly, you need to have a liking to the period genre in tales like Emma, War & Peace, Poldark, Downton Abbey and even the original Pride & Prejudice but you may also need to have a strong stomach so I may advise to familiarize yourself with bloody and gory shows like The Walking Dead and Game Of Thrones. The supernatural and fantasy genres have bombarded our television screens and I recommend that you get on to a few of these before you dabble in PPZ.