Friday, February 5, 2016

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies Review: Horrifically Elegant

The world of movies have been a home for the undead for many years. The zombie genre has been one that has not just infected the movie world, but the entirety of pop culture. Yet in the case of the movies it feels like this subgenre has been done to death (no pun intended). With so many films featuring the zombie apocalypse motif, what could one possibly make this scenario a unique cinematic experience? How about meshing the idea with an iconic novel. Such is the case for the new action horror film: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Directed by Burr Steers, this film is based on the 2009 novel written by Seth Graham-Smith which takes the Jane Austen classic and blends it with zombie elements. A concept such as this sound ludicrous, and yet it has all the potential in the world to work as a film. So does Pride and Prejudice and Zombies bring some elegance to the horror genre, or is this an idea that should have been left dead and buried.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies features a 19th century England that has been plagued with the dead walking the earth and eating human flesh. Despite the harsh environment, the citizens continually to go about their daily lives; with the exception that many of the inhabitants are ready to fight the zombie hordes. Such is the case for the Bennet family where all the daughters have been trained to be fighters. This is especially seen in Elizabeth Bennet (Lily James). Elizabeth is content on being a warrior and not someone's bride. However the heroines resolve is put to the test when Elizabeth meets the hardened soldier: Mr.Darcy (Sam Riley). As romantic turmoil inflict both Elizabeth and Darcy, the two must also deal with the zombie problem; which continues to escalate as the days go by.

I found the story behind this zombified tale was quite dynamic. What made the plot effective was the execution of its concept. The movie throws you into a 19th century that is plagued with zombies and at no time did I feel this idea to be lost; in fact it flourished on the silver screen as this zombie apocalypse was quite creative. If there was one issue I had with the story it was in the plot's structure. This is not to say that plot was not paced well, but rather it felt sporadic; especially when the movie got closer to the final act. Another issue was that there was so much going on in the story. Along with the romantic story of Elizabeth and Darcy was other plot points like Elizabeth's sister, Jane (Bella Heathcote), falling for the dashing Mr.Bingley (Douglas Booth); not to mention the sinister scheme that circled the overall story. Because of there was so much going on in the story, it could be difficult to really grasp the plot as a whole. Yet despite the issue of structure, the plot managed to survive with its themes as I found the world of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies to be quite believable.

This film featured a massive ensemble. The best thing about this cast is how everyone felt like a character; whether it was the two leads, Elizabeth's family or even the zombies. I liked the film's protagonists. Both Elizabeth and Darcy were engaging leads, and Lily James and Sam Riley did their best to make these characters relatable. The film also featured an array of supporting actors such as Charles Dance as Mr.Bennett, and Lena Heady as Lady Catherine de Burough. However when it came to supporting characters, none stood out more then Matt Smith as the comedic Mr.Collins. Matt Smith was in rare form in this movie as Mr.Collins stole the spotlight in every scene that he was in. The problem in the cast was the characters' development. While both Elizabeth and Darcy were good characters, their direction (particularly in their romantic development) did lack in the matter of complexity. However, just the like the story, the strengths of this element more than made up for any flaws that were presented in the cast.

The technical elements to Pride and Prejudice and Zombies were quite fitting to the movie's concept. The most particular technical aspect was the movie's visual direction. Ideas such as telling the backstory with a pop up book and a map sequences that used blood to the trail the character's journey added to the movie's creativity and presentation. The effects to the zombies was efficient as it masterfully blended practical and cg effects. The cinematography by Remi Adefarasin complemented both the classical and horror aspects to the movie, and both managed to blend together perfectly. Even the score by Fernando Velazquez felt like a combination of styles as it captured the grim atmosphere, but also had a sense elegance to it. This blend would not stop with the movie's visual aspects, or even the music, as the action to film was fitting for any zombie movie. While it could be gritty, the action behind this zombie blockbuster had a sense of subtlety behind it making quite unique in this area. When it came down to it, the direction behind this zombie flick was just a mesh of things, which only gave Pride and Prejudice and Zombies a sense of style.

It may be safe to say that my experience with Pride and Prejudice and Zombies was not a daunting one. On the contrary the film exceeded my expectation. The film is by no means flawless as sporadic storytelling and character direction hurt this horror flick's presentation However with a strong concepts, engaging characters and stylish aspects, this movie made up for any shortcomings that plague it. In the end Pride and Prejudice and Zombies was fun and thrilling; making this zombified blockbuster truly one of a kind.

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