I’m not typically one to know of things far in advance before they happen, like the decision to bring Pride and Prejudice and Zombies to the big screen. Though I do know a kick ass movie when I see it’s preview or so I thought. Having not read a single Jane Austen book, nor having read its parody by Seth Graham-Smith, I had only the 05′ Pride & Prejudice movie to base my expectations on and man were they high. Becoming Jane was another enjoyable film, but that’s a movie discussion for another time. I absolutely love the fashion of the 18th century, British accents, and who doesn’t love zombies? Toss all of that in a pot and you’re sure to have cooked up the movie of the year right?
I’m not sure if it followed Seth’s novel to a T, but I was able to see where it varied dramatically from its original. Instead of these innocent characters that are interested in gossip, literature, and music, you have these hard feminist-like characters that know martial arts and how to wield a sword. Absolutely love the twist. The story isn’t what disappointed me; it was all in the cinematography.
The start of my let down was as early as the opening credits. The movie had many animated visuals with narration used for flashbacks and to imply travel. Its intro was constructed to look like a well-crafted pop-up book, leading us up to where the story begins. I would have loved to see the animation, but was completely distracted by the ill placement of the credits throughout. I would’ve been highly upset as an animator on that team knowing my work was put to waste. In addition to this poor decision, I found other aspects of this movie that could have been taken into better consideration.
“Zombies”, though in the title, made little appearance. Even with the few zombie scenes that were, there weren’t many that left us unsettled, such as the one shown in the trailer.
It just wasn’t as gory and intense as I’d hoped or the previews led it to be. There could have been much more interaction with these undead characters. There were a few jump scares with play on volume, but it got tired after its first use.
What was supposed to have been the Regency era, to me, came across as present day clearly attempting to be old fashioned. Perhaps I read too deeply into the film, but I just felt the shots used to establish location were not well chosen. Costumes felt off in that of color and materials to be in the 1800s. What killed me most was their obvious attempt to tailor the dialogue to a much “slower” audience. I enjoy the spoken English of that time period and it was completely butchered, but then again, having not read P&P&Z, I’m not able to pinpoint where these revisions came from, the novel or the movie. All of the comedy and satire in Pride & Prejudice is alive within the verbal interaction and I feel it was exchanged for overacting.
I typically don’t care when producers choose to go with a less recognized cast, as long as they’re able to deliver. Our focus lies on our main characters Elizabeth, Jane, Mr. Darcy, and Mr. Wikham. While none would receive an academy award in my book, Elizabeth, played by Lily James, frustrated me the most. Her lack of presence in the role did not make me fall in love with her character and in this particular case, Elizabeth is supposed to be favored. Every emotion seemed to bear the same expression throughout the movie, which was very difficult to associate with.
On the note of cast selection, it seems as though the director had a slight obsession with our character’s upper half. Not only was Lily James’ overdramatic hyperventilating more than tiresome within the entire film, but wardrobe picks made it all the more noticeable. With every shot, we are forced to focus on her bosom. In mentioning this to someone that too saw the movie, they commented with, “I was wondering why they were moving up and down so much”. Anyhow, I much would have preferred to focus on some zombie slaying or even stronger character development.
It was hinted after the closing credits that a sequel is in the making, which I’m guessing would coincide with the novel Pride & Prejudice & Zombies: Dreadfully Ever After. I can’t say that I’m excited about that choice, but I can only hope the movie crew will take reviews of the first into consideration and properly tweak their direction on this second film.