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With: Lily James, Sam Riley, Jack Huston, Bella Heathcote, Douglas Booth, Matt Smith, Charles Dance, Sally Phillips, Lena Headey, Ellie Bamber, Millie Brady, Hermione Corfield, Emma Greenwell, Suki Waterhouse, Aisling Loftus
Written by: Burr Steers, based on novels by Seth Grahame-Smith, Jane Austen
Directed by: Burr Steers
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for zombie violence and action, and brief suggestive material
Running Time: 108
Date: 02/04/2016

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (2016)

2 Stars (out of 4)


By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is, not surprisingly, a fairly poor zombie film, but, surprisingly, a pretty good Jane Austen film. Director Burr Steers once made the literate coming-of-age film Igby Goes Down (2002), about smart, well-read people, and he enters Austen's world, telling the Elizabeth Bennet (Lily James)/Mr. Darcy (Sam Riley) tale with springy enthusiasm, confident ease, and even humor. The old familiar characters — last seen on the big screen in Joe Wright's 2005 adaptation of Austen's 1813 novel — generate genuine chemistry and love pangs, while leather boots creak and bosoms heave. Matt Smith (of Doctor Who) absolutely kills in his hilarious scenes as the ineffectual pest Mr. Collins (now Pastor Collins).

But the zombie stuff and martial arts fighting feels tacked on, as if by committee. It's too bad that Steers couldn't have hired a co-director that actually cared about undead lore. These are ill-chosen fast zombies, better suited for exercising than for nightmares; the gore is deliberately avoided to secure a box-office friendly PG-13 rating, and what gore is shown is stuck on with smeary, third-rate computer effects. The choreographed fighting is lazily shot, stopping every now and then for a cursory chest-kick or head-butt. For a while, the enjoyable human aspect of the plot is enough to keep the movie pulsing, but as the third act comes around, it begins lumbering through more and more frequent dead spots. Even the ending is an indecisive split, attempting to please both sets of fans and dissatisfying all.

Sony's Blu-ray release is as fine as can be expected in the picture and sound department. (It will also be fun to go through the terrific title sequence in slow-motion.) Fans of the movie will enjoy several deleted scenes, a gag reel, and Matt Smith's extra dialogue. There are also four short studio-produced featurettes and previews for other Sony titles.

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