“It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie, in possession of brains, must be in want of more brains.”
If that isn’t an enticing enough line to draw in audience in the masses, then I don’t know what is. Based on the parody novel of the same name by Seth Grahame-Smith, which uses the narrative structure or Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice with an undead twist – this film is everything you hoped it would be and more.
This is the third time Lily James has appeared in my blogosphere, and I have to say that I definitely took her more seriously with the brown locks… and sword. Playing the well known protagonist Elizabeth Bennet, James does a fantastic job of being the proud, independent and less than demure Zombie slayer. Despite the on going plague of Zombies, her nemesis comes in the brooding and unfeeling form of Mr Darcy (Sam Riley). An equally skilled Zombie slayer who goes nowhere without his Van Helsing and Neo inspired leather coat.
Sam Riley would not have been my first choice to play the lovable robot that is Fitzwilliam Darcy, neither would he have been my second, third or probably forth choice, however as the film went on I warmed to his stoic nature and enjoyed the dry humoured dynamic between his Darcy and James’ Bennet. Their inevitable relationship was certainly more believable than that between Elizabeth and the devilishly handsome Mr Wickham (Jack Huston) who has even more sinister in this rendition than I could have ever imagined. He was transformed into a real villain, out for more than just money which added depth to his character, that will never allow me to see him the same way ever again.
The film was laid against the plot of the Jane Austen’s original but what was so great is that although we did have the vague courtship of Jane Bennet and the sexy Mr Bingley (Douglas Booth), the rules of social etiquette are secondary to the fight against the undead.
One thing that did stick out, was the complete irrelevance of the entire Bennet family. Whereas they normally each have their own unique and distinctive personalities, in this film their role was simply to support Elizabeth Bennet. Seriously I don’t think Kitty Bennet even spoke, and it was a miracle that Mary Bennet managed to snag herself a few lines. Even Lydia who is supposed to have her own plot and a strong character fell flat. It would have been better to get rid of a few of the Bennet sisters and rename the film; Elizabeth Bennet Zombie Slayer.
But then again, tell me the five of them together does not look so cool.
In terms of the films style, it did seem as though the director was unsure what he wanted to go for – which is completely understandable as there was so much choice. There was the graceful possibility of the 1800’s, the war torn theme of Good vs Evil, and the bad-assness of female empowerment. However it seemed that instead of making a resolute decision, he just stuck a different instagram filter over random scenes and called it a day.
As a final note I have to give a standing ovation to Matt Smith who played the Bennet’s cousin Mr Collins. Normally portrayed as an annoying, self absorbed try-hard, Smith did the impossible and turned this unlikeable character into a loveable one. His mannerisms and lines brought a comic element to the film that was otherwise missing. It was an unexpected but pleasurable twist in the tale that brought life to a character that is otherwise seen as nothing more than the gum on your shoe. Kudos to you Matt Smith, kudos to you.
If you are a fan of the book, or the original of which the book was based, then by all means waste your money and have a good laugh. If however you care nothing for Pride or Prejudice or Zombies, then pick another film… That being said; I would probably rate this film a lot higher than it would get anywhere else. Not as good as Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter but a blast nevertheless.