When mixing two popular things together, you need to make sure that the recipe is just right. Whether it’s peanut butter and jelly, peanut butter and chocolate, or peanut butter and zombies, er… Pride & Prejudice & Zombies, you need to make sure not one flavor is too overbearing. So how does Price & Prejudice & Zombies measure out?
For this review, to give it a more balanced take, it will be written as a co-review between my wife and I. To give you a better idea of where we are coming from, my wife has read the original Pride & Prejudice multiple times and watched nearly every film iteration of the original story, where I on the other hand have just a general knowledge of the main plot points. Between the two of us, you will get a very interesting look into this film.
The movies sticks closely to the original story by Seth Graham-Smith, yet removes major plots points from the original Jane Austen narrative. It follows the lives of the Bennet family, and their desire to have their daughters marry into wealthy families. Even with zombies overtaking London, there is still time for gossip, match-making, and proposals. Will they? Won’t they? Oh, wait! Here comes a zombie!
The movie glides along at a brisk pace, but does take its fair time in switching between Victorian era Pride & Prejudice and the main hook of the bloodthirsty zombie hunting. P&P&Z oftentimes feels like two completely different films that have been sown together on the cutting room floor, rather than its own unique collaboration. The switch between the two styles was jarring at certain points in the film.
Acting-wise, everyone was perfectly cast. Never once when watching the film did I consider anyone else in these roles. If we did want to discuss the star of the show, it would absolutely come down to Matt Smith. While he is far from his Dr. Who days, his charming personally shines through as Parson Collins. My wife, on the other hand, thought that Matt Smith was somewhat miscast. Although she adores Matt Smith, he made Mr. Collins too lovable. In the original book, Mr. Collins was a rude, pious, and selfish person, yet in the film Matt Smith actually made you like the character. Personally, his blunt arrogance comes off as more ignorant than insulting, making me smile every time he entered the frame. We agreed to disagree.
Sam Riley as Mr. Darcy also deserves a nod. He does a great job of portraying the hard exterior of someone who has been through tragic events, yet also appropriately conveys confusion at this new feeling of love he has for Lily James as Elizabeth Bennet. He wasn’t my wife’s favorite Mr. Darcy but the chemistry between the two lead roles was perfect. The film also tries to portray Mr. Darcy as the Van Helsing of the picture, always having him pull out a new idea from his back pocket for dealing with the living dead. When he’s on screen it often means zombies are not too far behind.
After seeing the movie this weekend with my wife, we both had differing opinions coming out of the theatre. I felt that the movie leaned too heavily on the Pride & Prejudice side, while my wife felt that it leaned too heavily on the zombie crutch. This film is hurting itself by trying to serve too many masters. It tries to stick closely with Pride & Prejudice to adhere to the original fans, yet the story drifts too far from the source material to appease the diehard Jane Austin devotees. The film also doesn’t feature enough zombie action to quell the bloodthirsty horror aficionado. After seeing the film, while enjoyable, I am still not sure who this is made for.
(Despite all of my wife’s opinions on the movie, she thought it was incredible and deserves and 8/10)