By Renate Estrada
As a lover of history, especially the extended Regency era, and classic literature, especially Jane Austen, I had reservations about my excitement for Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. I attempted to read the novel when it first came out, as I enjoy the zombie genre, but was disappointed by the author’s handling of the original material. The book seemed to me awkwardly disjointed, written by someone unfamiliar with Jane Austen’s language and style, and especially ignorant of her subtle humor and the social mores that her heroines lived within. But I love costume dramas and zombie slaughter, so I knew I would see the movie, even if it was terrible.
It was not terrible.
It was, in fact, surprisingly well done.
Much of the original story is still intact, and while certain motivations and decisions or characters are somewhat altered due to the impending apocalypse (most likely instigated by those darned French!), enough of the story that is still so beloved two hundred years later survived the changes to remain familiar. Wickham presents as a sympathetic character, the tension between Lizzy and Lydia graduates to physical pranks and sparring matches, Darcy is a brooding and socially awkward most eligible bachelor, Bingley is everything a young man ought to be, and Jane is angelically beautiful and sweet (yet very kick-ass). Also, Darcy spends the majority of the movie wearing the Regency version of a leather trench coat. ‘Nuff said.
Things I liked about this movie:
Lena Headey. This might be my favorite ever portrayal of Lady Catherine, despite the changes.
The fight scenes. Beautifully choreographed and shot, these were fun to watch, but the actual gore was minimized through use of clever camera angles and scene cuts.
The lighting. The scenes that took place after sunset appeared candlelit, with dynamic flickers and shadows that played into the atmosphere of the story. Very lovely.
The costumes. This was a feast for the eyes, with period silhouettes mostly maintained with a decidedly steampunk edge, and the clever addition of weaponry to the Bennet girls’ toilette seemed practical. Their blades and pistols didn’t interfere with their elegance, and their elegant gowns and pelisses didn’t interfere with their ability to quickly draw and put to use their tools of self-defense.
Things I didn’t like about this movie:
The lack of a Lena Headey fight scene. I understand the why, but it made me sad.
The dialogue. Some of the lines sounded too modern, or fit awkwardly into the scenes with Austen’s original dialogue, enough that several scenes felt jarring to me.
Overall, I enjoyed this film. I thought it was well done, paying tribute both to a beloved classic and the zombie genre so many love today. I will probably even see it again, to absorb details missed on the first watch (like the zombie still holding her reticule as she chases after brains, noticed by another moviegoer! Look for her in one of the final scenes).