Sunday, March 06, 2016

With Such a Quirky Premise, 'Pride and Prejudice and Zombies' Should Have Been More

I was fairly interested of watching Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.  I’ve never read the book written by Seth Grahame-Smith on which the movie is based on, but I’ve been aware of its existence, found the premise amusing, and been curious of its plot.  But since I’m not really compelled to seek, buy, and read the novel, watching the movie adaptation is a favorable alternative to know the story.

Moreover, I like Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, which is another “mash-up” property conceived by Seth Grahame-Smith.  I find the kooky reinvention of my most favorite American president as a vampire hunter extremely appealing.  Also, the action sequences are exciting.  Thus, though the movie isn’t necessarily good, I still pretty much enjoyed it.  

So coming into Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, I’m simply expecting to get the same thing I had with Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter: a dumb but quirky, entertaining movie.

As what its title implies, the movie has characters, setting, themes, and other elements from the classic novel by Jane Austen, but its plot is modified to have zombies in it.  In this alternate world, a zombie outbreak has fallen on Regency era England.  Zombies roam the countryside, but though people acknowledge their danger, they treat them more of serious nuisances instead of horrifying threats, thus, society functions basically just the same as the original 19th century England that Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice has described.

As with the original novel, the five Bennet sisters are constantly being dragged by their mother into opportunities in which they will have the chance to marry themselves into a rich life, since they have little or nothing to inherit from their father.  But in this reinvetion, due to the existence of zombies in this world, the Bennet sisters were trained well in Chinese martial arts so that they may be able to defend themselves.

The movie centers on Elizabeth (Lily James) – the second eldest of the Bennets – and Mr. Darcy (Sam Riley) – a young wealthy estate owner as well as a proficient zombie hunter – as they develop from initially loathing each other into overcoming their pride and prejudice, eventually compelling them to surrender to love, while surprisingly aggressive and organized attacks from the undead are threatening London from being overrun.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies started off with promise.  I even thought it was going to be better than Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.  But as the movie progressed, the narrative succumbed to bad pacing.  Thus, it failed to develop the romance well – which is where most of the charm of Pride and Prejudice is hinged on – and it failed to make the story worth investing on thoroughly.

It also didn’t help that the action sequences were unimpressive in general.  It had its thrilling moments, but they were far from being enough to make itself be an engaging action film.

This could have been a much better film.  I believe it has all the things to be immensely entertaining.  If only the pacing had been done better, and if only the action sequences were better shot, better choreographed, and better directed, the movie would have been as enjoyable as Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter – probably even more so.

In the end, I did derive some enjoyment from Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.  But it could have been more.  I really wanted it to be more.  Thus, to me, in this sense, it’s a disappointment.

A sequel – if the mid-credits scene was any indication – is probably unlikely to happen at this point because of the poor ticket sales.  But I do want movie adaptations of a few more “mashup” novels like Android Karenina (steampunked treatment of the Leo Tolstoy classic) and Sense and Sensibility and Monsters (another parodied Jane Austen novel, but this time, it makes use of “sea monster” tropes) to still happen.

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