Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
By Evan Purcell
2/20/2016, 12:00 p.m.
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I know lots of people who bought Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. I know lots of people who started reading Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. I don’t, however, know many people who finished reading Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.
Seth Grahame-Smith‘s book has a catchy, awesome premise, and it accomplishes exactly what it was meant to accomplish, but it’s just not very fun to read. After a certain point, the reading experience gets exhausting. It’s a single joke premise, and after the first hundred pages, it becomes clear that the joke is on the reader.
A movie version was bound to be a better experience, for the simple fact that watching a movie is a much shorter process. It’s easier spending two hours on this idea that several days. Also, a lot of the magic of P&P&Z‘s premise is based on mashing up cool visuals, something that works much better on the big screen. There’s a definite thrill to seeing young women in corsets and party dresses when they’re armed to the teeth and hacking at monsters.
It’s just a shame that the visuals weren’t as memorable as they could’ve been. The biggest issue is probably that most of the action is up-close and over-edited. The story makes a big deal out of clashing fighting styles, and yet the differences in fight techniques is never really shown. Some of the action scenes were hard to follow, and a few of them went by too quickly.
The Jane Austen-y stuff was more successful, surprisingly. The zombie elements were well-integrated into the story, driving the narrative toward the same checkpoints as any other adaptation. And Lily James, the film’s Elizabeth, was certainly a capable heroine, spunky and vulnerable at the same time. I found myself invested in the story, but not quite as interested in the zombie-on-human craziness. Going into the theater, that was not at all how I expected to feel.
It was also refreshing that the zombie outbreak wasn’t over-explained. This isn’t a movie about discovering secrets and reversing the undead plague. Instead, it focuses everything squarely on Elizabeth (and, of course, her Darcy). James had a tough job, and she was more than able to carry the film.
Ultimately, though, the movie is a similar experience to the book. The idea is better than the execution.