Thoughts on “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies”

It might have ended up as a bit of a guilty pleasure, but a number of years ago I took an English course covering a number of works, one of which was “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen … and I found that I really liked the book, and read it at least once more afterwards (I don’t really know where it is right now, but maybe I should find it to read it again). I’ve never watched the movies, but when I saw the DVD for “Pride and Prejduice and Zombies” cheap I figured “What the hell?” and picked it up to watch it.

Now, the fact that I haven’t read that book in a number of years is pretty important, because that to me is something that really hurts the movie. The main conceit of the movie is to essentially take “Pride and Prejudice” and recast it in a zombie apocalypse. What this involves, at least in the movie, is putting some new scenes in to establish the zombie plot, but for the most part outside of that to keep the scenes the same and, at its best, to recast the scenes and especially the conversations for the new setting. The problem with this is that if you aren’t familiar with the work, you won’t get that that’s what’s happening, and so the best thing about trying this is lost, which would leave the audience trying to treat it as a zombie movie or a historical romance and being puzzled by it. And since I hadn’t read it for a while, there were a number of scenes that I didn’t get, even though I did recall some of them and so managed to “get” them.

And outside of that conceit, it’s not a particularly good example of either of the two genres that it blends, nor is it a particularly good blend of the two genres. The zombie portions are very minor and are really only there to pull off the subversion, and the romance portions don’t stick enough to Austen’s original work to be compelling as a romance. If you wanted to watch it as a zombie movie, you’ll find that the romance portions are too prominent for it to work as that, but if you wanted a historical romance you’ll find that the zombie portions take you out of the romance too often and spoil the mood.

The fight scenes are typical action schlock, with all of the extra posing that you normally see in them, as they’re based on the idealized martial arts of Japan and China. They are so overdone at times that I really wanted there to be a character who refused to train in either and stuck to more traditionally English fighting styles, and did so precisely because they were so annoyed at all the posing that you saw in the Asian forms, perhaps exclaiming “The goal is to kill the zombies, not pose for a portrait with them!”.

The actors are pretty good and work well, but I want to single out Matt Smith here for being the most entertaining thing in the entire movie, which both speaks well of him and somewhat poorly for the movie. I remember that Parson Collins was more staid and boring in the original work, but Smith makes him pretty goofy. Then again, I’m not sure Matt Smith can actually pull off anything other than goofy, so perhaps that was to be expected.

Despite its flaws, this is a movie that I might watch again. To be honest, though, it makes me more inclined to find and read the book (or books) since that would have more room to either build up the zombie plot or make the subversions more clear. Then again, I read the “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” book and was disappointed, so maybe this wouldn’t work that well for me either and I should stick with the original.

2 Responses to “Thoughts on “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies””

  1. Doctor Who: Thoughts on Matt Smith’s Doctor | The Verbose Stoic Says:

    […] reason why I commented in my thoughts on “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” that I wasn’t sure that Matt Smith could pull off anything other than goofy is because Smith […]

  2. Thoughts on “Pride and Prejudice” | The Verbose Stoic Says:

    […] and her adorable actress — than the novel could ever provide.  And finally, I took up the movie “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies”, which again wasn’t as impressive as the book had been.  So here was a chance to see if the […]

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