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Summary / Analysis
Times of India
Jane Austen's tale of complicated romance and intertwined relationships gets a decidedly different twist, when the land is hit by a zombie outbreak. The film itself is based on another book that first created the mashup of Austen's story and the zombie elements. The Bennets and Mr Darcy (Riley) try to overcome the zombie menace while simultaneously dealing with their own lives.
At first, the thought of these two very disparate elements being combined in a film sounds bizarre. For those who've read and enjoyed Austen's book, the idea would definitely seem promising at first. For one, how will director Steers pull it off? So accordingly, we have the well-worn tale of a group of young women dressed in their formal best trying to find love, while simultaneously battling the undead. Impeccable manners seemingly served with some measure of swordplay and musketry.
Charles Dance plays the head of the Bennett family and Elizabeth (James) leads the Bennett girls. Elizabeth is tough - a trait no doubt required if zombie fighting is involved - and knows her way with a sword. Staying faithful to the original story, she also has a patented dislike for another one of the story's lead characters, Mr. Darcy (Riley). The entire movie in fact, rests on the gimmick of the contrast between 19-th century English politeness and on the other hand, the fairly contemporary trope of slashing zombies.
Unfortunately, this premise seems to wear thin very soon and despite the film's fairly brisk runtime, the story appears to get boring pretty quickly. Sure, there are some snappy moments and the fine period detailing are definite plus points. There are doses of humour too, but that's really not enough to make this a satire, in which case it would have been better. And surprisingly enough, while zombie films ride on blood and guts galore, there simply isn't enough gore in here to satisfy those who even like the zombie genre. So what we really have is a film that cannot be taken seriously either as a satire, as a period film and neither as a zombie film.
Natalie Portman was originally cast to play the lead, Elizabeth Bennet, but, she opted out of the project due to schedule conflicts. Natalie, however, stayed on board as a producer.
Before finalizing Lily James to play Elizabeth, Scarlett Johansson, Anne Hathaway, Emma Stone, Mia Wasikowska, Rooney Mara, Mila Kunis and Blake Lively were in consideration for the role.
During the film’s production, James dated her co-star Matt Smith, who plays Mr Collins in the film.
When Lily James received the script of the film, she hadn’t read Seth Grahame-Smith’s novel by the same name, from which the film is adapted. The actress then read the entire book in two days on the sets of ‘Downtown Abbey.’
While shooting for a particular sequence, Lily stomped on the face of a cast member, mistaking it for a dummy, leaving everyone on set shell shocked.
In 19th century England, Colonel Darcy (Sam Riley) travels to the home of a wealthy family to investigate rumors of a newly infected zombie. He arrives at the home and sits with the family before taking out a small vial containing carrion flies as a means to detect the undead (as they are attracted to dead flesh). The flies land on the house's patriarch, whose eyes turn red. Darcy breaks a glass and stabs the man in the throat before decapitating him. One of the young girls in the house retreats upstairs to check on the niece of the recently dispatched zombie. She discovers the niece devouring a servant; the niece then proceeds to attack her, and then they both kill everyone in the house.
The Bennet sisters - Elizabeth (Lily James), Jane (Bella Heathcote), Kitty (Suki Waterhouse), Lydia (Ellie Bamber), and Mary (Millie Brady) - have all been sent to China by their father to learn in the art of weaponry and martial arts. Mrs. Bennet (Sally Phillips) wants her daughters to be married off to wealthy suitors. As it turns out, the Bingley family has moved in nearby and are throwing a ball, wherein Mrs. Bennet hopes that the young and handsome Mr. Bingley (Douglas Booth) will win over one of her girls. Elizabeth, on the other hand, doesn't want to seek a husband.
The Bennets attend the ball. Bingley instantly sets his eyes on Jane. Darcy is in attendance and takes notice of Elizabeth, but he makes comments that she is unappealing, which Elizabeth overhears. She walks outside tearfully and encounters Mrs. Featherstone (Dolly Wells), now a zombie. Mrs. Featherstone converses with Elizabeth, before she is killed by Darcy. A horde of zombies then attack the party, prompting the Bennet sisters to spring into action. As they slay every zombie in their path, Darcy instantly becomes smitten with Elizabeth when he witnesses her in combat.
The Bingley sisters invite Jane over for tea at Netherfield. Mrs. Bennett forces her to go on horseback, thinking she will be invited to stay overnight due the oncoming rainstorm. While on the ride, Jane encounters a zombie and fires her gun. The gun backfires leaving a bite-like wound on her hand. She kills it but then spots a zombie woman with her child. Jane hesitates and is attacked by the zombie. At Netherfield, Darcy orders her confined to her room, in fear that she may have been bitten. Elizabeth arrives at the home to care for Jane. While in Jane's room, Darcy releases his flies to detect a zombie, but Elizabeth catches each fly with her hand and returns them to Darcy.
After Jane recovers, the sisters attend another ball thrown by the Bingleys. There, Elizabeth meets a soldier named Mr. Wickham (Jack Huston), who seems to be charming and polite. He tells Elizabeth that he has had a history with Darcy and does not wish to further challenge him. Another group of zombies attack the party, resulting in Bingley injuring himself, and Darcy joining Elizabeth in fighting the horde. The Bennets are visited by Parson Collins (Matt Smith), who intends to marry one of the sisters. He initially sets his eyes on Jane, though he is told that she is with Bingley. He later tries to seduce Elizabeth, and proposes to her, but states that she must give up her life as a warrior, something that she adamantly refuses to do. Mr. Collins later decides to settle with Elizabeth's friend Charlotte (Aisling Loftus).
Elizabeth travels with Wickham to the In-Between (an area outside of walled-in London but inside a royal moat) to a church where some zombies live and worship, while feeding on pig brains to keep them from going completely savage, which would occur if they ate human brains. Wickham wants Elizabeth to join him in helping the zombies. He also suggests that she run away with him, but she remains conflicted. Elizabeth and Wickham then meet with Darcy's aunt, Lady Catherine de Bourgh (Lena Headey), a notorious zombie killer with major authority and wealth, to try and persuade her to come to peace with the more "civilized" zombies who do not eat human brains. Darcy and his aunt blatantly refuse. When she arrives home, Elizabeth is told that Darcy has convinced the Bingleys to move away. When Darcy approaches Elizabeth with a proposal of his own, she expresses her outrage at his actions and fights him in a duel. Elizabeth gets the upper hand, and Darcy leaves.
Darcy writes Elizabeth a letter to apologize for his actions and to state that he separated Jane and Bingley for fear that Jane only wanted to marry Bingley for his wealth, having overheard Mrs. Bennet drunkenly mention it. Darcy also mentions that Wickham had tried to elope with Darcy's fifteen-year-old sister for her fortune. Darcy's letter states that he is battling zombies in London, and that they have overrun the walled city. Elizabeth is then cornered by Lady Catherine and her bodyguard Wilhelm (Ryan Oliva). Catherine knows that Elizabeth and Darcy have developed an attraction toward one another, yet she still wants Darcy to marry her sickly daughter, Anne. Wilhelm attacks Elizabeth, but she claws his face and fights him off, causing him to get crushed under a pile of bricks. Catherine decides to protect Elizabeth's family and takes them to her estate. Wickham ran off with Elizabeth's youngest sister, and she must go rescue her.
Elizabeth joins Darcy in London and helps him battle the undead. Darcy encounters Wickham at the old church and rescues Elizabeth's sister. While fighting Wickham, he impales him and reveals a bite mark on his chest, revealing Wickham was undead all along. Before Wickham can kill Darcy, Elizabeth rides in and chops his arm off and knocks him unconscious. Darcy rides with Elizabeth across the bridge as the army destroys the last remaining bridge to keep the zombies trapped within the In-between on the inside of the moat. Darcy is injured in the explosion and is rendered unconscious. Elizabeth tearfully admits her love for him. After Darcy recovers, he finds Elizabeth and tells her that he heard what she said on the bridge. They share their first kiss and agree to marry. The two have a joint wedding with Bingley and Jane, officiated by Parson Collins. In a mid-credits scene, the now one-armed Wickham is leading the zombies toward them, ready for war.
Jane Austen's tale of complicated romance and intertwined relationships gets a decidedly different twist, when the land is hit by a zombie outbreak. The film itself is based on another book that first created the mashup of Austen's story and the zombie elements. Let's take a look at what audiences have to say about the film on Twitter:
In acting, James is the superior. Riley is by no means deficient, but James’ performance is clever. She is at the same time haughty, reserved and deadly, and her manners, though alive to the potential for parody, are always presented with a straight face. In that respect her co-star has greatly the advantage. Riley seems sure of playing the material for laughs wherever he appears; James is continually straddling the line. Elsewhere in the cast, Lena Headey is excessively diverting as the Amazonian superwarrior Lady Catherine de Bourgh, and Matt Smith, ideally cast as the odious Mr. Collins, is all astonishment.
Tolerable, but not handsome enough to tempt substantial audiences, “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” is in fact a moderately entertaining film, not deficient in old-fashioned costume drama when it pleases, nor in the power of being clever where it chooses, but awkward and unsatisfying. It comes with a very encouraging pedigree, based on Seth Grahame-Smith’s high-concept bestseller; it has the fortune of well-qualified cast members, all in the habit of investing their roles with more than they ought, and taking cues from other films of rank; and its producers ought therefore in every respect to have been entitled to think well of their box office prospects, and meanly of others. However, in Hollywood, the power of doing anything with quickness is always much prized by the possessor of the rights to a hot property, and often without any attention to the imperfection of the performance. But the public’s good opinion, once lost, is lost forever.