Pride & Prejudice & Zombies (DVD)
3 reviews from the community
Review of "Pride & Prejudice & Zombies (DVD)"
Relieved and delighted to see the back of a horrible 2016 and working towards better things.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that an intelligent person under the thrall of a deeply unpleasant spell of ill health will be in need of some brainless entertainment that doesn’t require any thought power whatsoever.Thus it was that, having given the book of Pride & Prejudice & Zombies a thorough pasting in review on this site not a million years ago, I ended up watching the film on Netflix to find out if it was an improvement on what I thought had been a wasted opportunity of a concept.
***PRIDE & PREJUDICE & ZOMBIES
Based on the book of the same title which ripped off the Jane Austen classic Pride & Prejudice, the original idea was “a mash up” – as I believe is the modern term – of the trendy zombie genre with that of classical literature. In short, the burgeoning love stories of Jane and Elizabeth Bennet and their respective would-be husbands were set against a background which had required not only the occasional diversion but also they and the other three sisters of the family being highly schooled in the deathly arts.It was awful. I have a dark but daft sense of humour and had high hopes, but was rewarded with a book which was clunky, slow, boring and deeply unamusing. And I don’t blame Jane Austen.
So why the watch the film adaptation? Because I thought that the actual idea had huge potential and had hoped that whoever invested enough money in it to make a film would also have enough sense to make it actually fundamentally amusing.Throw in some notable casting – more on this in a bit – and the fact that someone with as much clout and back-catalogue credibility as Natalie Portman was prepared to be amongst the production staff – and I decided to give it a spin.
Was it worth it?***
THE CASTLizzie Bennet – Lily James (Downton Abbey, Cinderella)
Mr Darcy – Sam Riley (Maleficent, SS-GB)
Jane Bennet – Bella Heathcote (The Man In The High Castle)
Mr Bingley – Douglas Booth (Noah)
Mrs Bennet – Sally Phillips (Smack The Pony)
Mr Bennet – Charles Dance (Game of Thrones)
Lady Catherine – Lena Headey (Game of Thrones)
George Wickham – Jack Huston (American Hustle)
Mr Collins – Matt Smith (Doctor Who)
(All Amazon):DVD £5
Netflix: Two hours of your life + subscription
Released 2016. Budget rumoured about the 25m mark and takings more like 10m.***
IS IT ANY GOOD?Not particularly, no.
I really did slate the book because, frankly, it wasn’t funny and it was very, very, dull. But with a few notable names among that cast – Charles Dance and Lena Headey not least – I thought it might be worth a second chance if someone had seen the potential I had and decided to make the most of it. But, sadly, it seems a lot of that budget were blown on casting one or two really good names in roles which don’t really matter but then using what was left on a bunch of people who can’t act, have no presence and who portrayed the key relationships with not so much as a sniff of romantic chemistry.Also: zombies who talk, or rarely appear, are not very scary, so they clearly ran out of money for a decent make up budget as well.
Back to the casting. The comedic capabilities of Sally Phillips as Mrs Bennet are wasted, as is the theatrical and darkly witty gravitas of Charles Dance. Lena Headey gets a slightly better crack of the whip but sadly, for all I think she’s a very powerful actress, hidden behind her eyepatch was just a cheap, under-utilised and vastly watered-down version of Cersei’s cold arrogance from Thrones.Matt Smith did a star turn as himself, throwing in a little of the camp irritation but not enough of pompous self-importance of Mr Collins – another comedic opportunity not used strongly enough.
Bingley wasn’t just useless but he was boring and useless, and Jane wasn’t just retiring and shy but utterly devoid of presence or point, let alone passion. If these two got together in the real world they’d spend every Sunday in Slug In The Lettuce having brunch after their fun night out in All Bar None. Christ…But surely they couldn’t cast Lizzie and Darcy wrong?
Well yes, yes they could. Riley playing Darcy has no smoulder, no charisma, no power and no depth. He’s just got a long coat and a bad haircut and no amount of jumping into a pond can make it better.James as Lizzie – particularly this supposed warrior-strong version of the already intellectually powerful character – was too busy walking around with perfect poise looking pouty and beautiful and at no stage conveyed any sort of intrigued tension of possible intrigue mixed with distaste upon meeting her future love. The couple between them have no chemistry whatsoever, both individuals far more concerned with nailing that all-important “intense look in portrait looking just off-camera” face when solely in shot to bother remembering that they’re meant to be tortured in love with one another. Wickham is another one – the actor has all the charisma of a particularly unpolished coffee table and again seems to have no connection with Lily James whatsoever.
Whilst this is slightly more fun than the book – from which it does deviate somewhat – this is still another example of an opportunity wasted. Surely it could be lifted by sufficiently scary zombies and some good fight scenes? Well yes, it could - but you won’t find them here. Zombies who take forever to change from human form to something scarier, requiring minimal make up funds which have all been blown on Lizzie and Jane’s hair – half of which are still capable of human speech, are not scary, and anyone who hopes for Buffy-esque girl power fight scenes or Walking Dead cool precision can give up now because this lot couldn’t destroy the head of a Barbie doll.Someone needs to tell the producers of this film – whether they have Oscars to their names or not – that you can be very subtle in your send-ups with British comedies but there is a point by which it becomes not only deeply unfunny but also immeasurably tedious and distinctly unclever. This falls in the latter category.
Oh well. It’s still better than the book.
Product Information : Pride & Prejudice & Zombies (DVD)
Manufacturer's product description
Actor(s): Lily James, Sam Riley, Lena Headey, Matt Smith, Douglas Booth
Director(s): Burr Steers
DVD Region: DVD
Classification: 15 years and over
Production Year: 2016
Listed on Ciao since: 21/03/2017