Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

A ridiculously bad film that remained watchable only for the sheer novelty of its concept, otherwise, it largely squandered the potential of its source material - and its source material's source material - and its cast. With the exception of Matt Smith who provided the best laughs with his bumbling buffoonery as Mr Collins, everybody else were literally dead on their feet with nary a spark of chemistry between the cast.

Written and directed by Burr Steers, this film was more a zombie-apocalyptic film with Austen-esque beats, rather than Pride & Prejudice with the undead. Steers screenplay was undecidedly un-Elizabethean and when he tried to shoehorn dialogue into Austen's prose, it just stucked out like a sore thumb. Even his characterisations of the beloved characters - updated as it were to this version - were off kilter and sorely superficial.

There could have been so much potential in the storyline if Steers just kept truer to the novel, but instead he padded it out with juvenile fantasies and recycled trope. Austen's novels are famed for their pro-feminist leanings, so having Elizabeth Bennet to be the heroine is nothing new in this genre even if she is a sword fighting/gun welding/zombie-slayer. However, there are some moments where it worked - especially when the Bennet sisters bust out their moves - however they were sorely lacking beyond the first 15 minutes.

The poor direction, poor fight choreography, messy editing, bad lighting, generic score (flashes of a Mozart in the Jungle scene where some orchestra members were scoring a B-grade horror/slasher flick) and ghastly CGI made everything worse.

But the absolute worst, and unforgivable, sin of this film was the total lack of chemistry of between Lily James' Elizabeth Bennet and Sam Riley's Mr Darcy (I refuse to call him "Colonel"). They are the central characters of the story - in whatever form - and even if all else fails, we have to believe in their relationship, their love and that they are meant for each other. I just wished him dead.

Riley is perhaps one of the worst Mr Darcy ever. He only has one mode: brood. And he could not even brood as well as James Norton in War and Peace (the broody Prince Andrei to James' exquisite Natasha Rostova). Steers could not even bother to give the audience the equivalent of Colin Firth's Pemberley lake scene.

James can do so much better. If any prove is required that she is an actress worth keeping an eye out for, watch BBC's War and Peace, where she transformed from an innocent naïveté to a sexually-awoken young woman to a tormenter self-hating wreck and finally to ... let's not spoil it here.

Lena Headey and Charles Dance were just wasted; Matt Smith was a fantastic Doctor.

There is a post-credit scene which hints at a possible sequel, but I doubt - I hope - it never gets made. Go read the book instead.


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