Director: Burr Steers.
Cast: Lily James, Sam Riley, Bella Heathcote, Ellie Bamber, Millie Brady, Suki Waterhouse, Douglas Booth, Sally Phillips, Charles Dance, Jack Huston, Lena Headey, Matt Smith.
Running Time: 1hr 47min.
‘It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains’.
This opening line to the individual period drama Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is a rather fitting tribute to the film as a whole. The adaptation of the popular book by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith is a mash-up of the period drama with added undead. Think Shaun of the Dead meets Downton Abbey. Yet, despite the almost silly premise of the plot, the film remains true to the original Austen text.
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, much like Jane Austen’s original text, follows the trials and tribulations of the Bennet girls in 19th century England. However, in this version not only do the girls have to navigate their way through society, but also defend themselves and those they care about from an army of the undead. The film follows Elizabeth Bennet and her sisters as they mature into young women and begin to focus on issues such as marriage, societal rise and weapons training.
In this adaptation, Mark Darcy is a brooding and steely zombie hunter, whilst Lady Catherine de Bourgh is the most feared and revered female warrior in history, both roles seem to fit their original characters. The Bennett girls are all skilled warriors, trained in China. When a handsome soldier, George Wickham, shows up he and Elizabeth begin to get to know each other, and she becomes enamoured by him. However, he is not all he seems and his motives are not what they appear. As Elizabeth tries to decipher what is going on Wickham kidnaps her youngest sister and it is up to Elizabeth, and Mr Darcy, to save her and stop a zombie invasion alongside her sister Jane and her beau Mr Bingley. The threat of zombies is nothing compared to the tangled love lives of the Bennet girls.
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is an outstanding mix of action, period drama and kick ass female characters. Elizabeth especially will not be pressured into marriage unless it is to someone that she chooses, and who loves her for who she is. Whilst they may have the deep rooted desire to meet a partner, it will be on their terms.
Both the books author Seth Grahame-Smith and the screenwriter Burr Steers have managed to retain the original traits and personalities of the characters, with Elizabeth Bennet being strong minded and independent, Mr Darcy dark and brooding yet able to love in his own way. Mr Collins is a particular pleasure. Matt Smith takes on board the character’s annoyances and yet brings with it an innocent humour that makes the character much more likeable than in the original text.
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies clings on to the personality of the Austen classic and adds in the perfect level of action and bad ass fighting skills. Elizabeth Bennet has always been synonymous with a strong female character, and Lily James’ portrayal is no different. It just has more weapons and martial arts whilst. It is easy to overlook the other Bennet sisters who are just as lethal as Elizabeth, and just as head strong, if less mature.
The film does not take itself too seriously, which adds to its charm and invites others to view it with the same pinch of salt. Who says you can’t fight of a mob of zombies and still look fabulous in an evening gown? Absolute genius.