Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)
May 15, 2016 by Dennis Amith
“Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” is an entertaining, fun film with an ensemble cast. It’s just not a good zombie film. Despite zombies being in the title, this is less of a horror film and more of a action/drama that you will enjoy much more. If you want horror and tense and frightening zombie scenes, you’re not going to get that with this film. Otherwise, if you are entertained by the concept of a mashup of a classic novel and a zombie infestation, then “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” may be worth watching.
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TITLE: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
FILM RELEASE: 2016
DURATION: 107 Minutes
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 2:40:1 Aspect Ratio, English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, English – Audio Description Track, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, SUBTITLES: English, English SDH, Spanish
COMPANY: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
RATED: PG-13 (Zombie Violence and Action, and Brief Suggestive Material)
Release Date: May 31, 2016
Directed by Burr Steers
Screenplay by Burr Steers
Loosely Based on the Quirk Books Novel by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame Smith
Produced by Marc Butan, Sean McKittrick, Brian Oliver, natalie Portman, Annette Savitch, Allison Shearmur, Tyler Thompson
Co-Producer: Stephen Meinen
Executive Producer: Sue Baden-Powell, Kimberly Fox, Edward H. Hamm Jr., Phil Hunt, Nick Meyer, Compton Ross, Lauren Selig
Cinematography by Remi Adefarasin
Music by Fernando Velazquez
Edited by Padric McKinley
Casting by Des Hamilton, John Papsidera
Production Design by David Warren
Art Direction by Steve Carter, Will Coubrough, David Doran, Ashley Winter
Set Decoration by Naomi Moore
Costume Design by Julian Day
Lily James as Elizabeth Bennet
Sam Riley as Mr. Darcy
Bella Heathcote as Jane Bennet
Ellie Bamber as Lydia Bennet
Millie Brady as Mary Bennet
Suki Waterhouse as Kitty Bennet
Douglas Booth as Mr. Bingley
Sally Phillips as Mrs. Bennet
Charles Dance as Mr. Bennet
Jack Huston as George Wickham
Lena Headey as Lady Catherine de Bourgh
Matt Smith as Parson Collins
Emma Greenwell as Caroline Bingley
Eva Bell as Louisa
Aisling Loftus as Charlotte
A zombie outbreak has fallen upon the land in this reimagining of Jane Austen’s classic tale of the tangled relationships between lovers from different social classes in 19th century England. Feisty heroine Elizabeth Bennet (Lily James) is a master of martial arts and weaponry and the handsome Mr. Darcy (Sam Riley) is a fierce zombie killer, yet the epitome of upper class prejudice. As the zombie outbreak intensifies, they must swallow their pride and join forces on the blood-soaked battlefield in order to conquer the undead once and for all.
As mashup storylines have become popular in the last decade, one of the more intriguing parody novels was released in 2009 by Seth Grahame-Smith and combining Jane Austen’s classic 1813 novel “Pride and Prejudice” with a zombie infestation storyline.
And sure enough, the Quirk Books Novel would receive a British-American film adaptation in 2016 directed by Burr Steers (“17 Again”, “Charlie St. Cloud”) and also produced by actress Natalie Portman.
The film would feature an ensemble cast which includes Lily James (“Cinderella”, “Downton Abbey”, “Wrath of the Titans”), Sam Riley (“Control”, “Maleficent”, “On the Road”), Bella Heathcote (“Dark Shadows”, “In Time”), Ellie Bamber (“The Falling”, “The Musketeers”), Millie Brady (“Legend”, “Mr. Selfridge”), Suki Waterhouse (“Insurgent”, “Love, Rosie”), Douglas Booth (“Jupiter Ascending, “Noah”, “LOL”), Sallpy Phillips (“Bridget Jones’s Diary”, “The Decoy Bride”, “Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason”), Charles Dance (“Last Action Hero”, “Alien 3”, “The Imitation Game”), Jack Huston (“American Hustle”, “Outlander”, “The Longest Ride”), Lena Headey (“300”, “Game of Thrones”, “300: Rise of an Empire”) and Matt Smith (“Doctor Who”, “Terminator Genisys”, “Womb”).
The film will be released on Blu-ray and DVD in May 2016 courtesy of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.
The film is set in 19th century England which has been under siege by a zombie infestation.
Colonel Darcy (portrayed by Sam Riley) has traveled to the home of a wealthy family to investigate rumors of a newly-infected zombie and taking out his vial of carrion flies, the flies would detect the undead. And sure enough, the flies finds its target and Colonel Darcy kills it immediately.
But as the family assures that no one is infected and Colonel Darcy leaves the home, it is realized that one of the niece has been infected and is feeding on the servants and it begins attacking a family member.
The film then introduces us to the Bennet family. Mr. Bennet (portrayed by Charles Dance) and his wife (portrayed by Sally Phillips) are strict parents of five girls: Elizabeth (portrayed by Lily James), Jane (portrayed by Bella Heathcote), Kitty (portrayed by Suki Waterhouse), Lydia (portrayed by Ellie Bamber) and Mary (portrayed by Millie Brady).
Each of the daughters were sent to China by their father to learn the art of weaponry and martial arts. But as the wealthy Bingley family will be throwing a ball, Mrs. Bennet wants her daughters to be married off to a wealthy suitor and hopes one of them will attract the young Mr. Bingley (portrayed by Douglas Booth).
But unlike the majority of the daughters swooning over marriage, Elizabeth doesn’t want a husband and happy the way she is.
As the Bennet family attends the Bingley ball, Mr. Bingley immediately falls for Jane. But as the ball becomes festive, Elizabeth accidentally knocks over a wine bottle which shatters.
Embarrassed, Elizabeth runs out and sees a zombified Mrs. Featherstone (portrayed by Dolly Wells), who has come to her to tell her something. But her head is blasted off by Col. Darcy and a horde of zombies begin to attack the party. The Bennet sisters showcase their martial arts and weaponry skills by dispatching all zombies, while Colonel Darcy begins to have an attraction towards Elizabeth.
The following day, the Bingley sisters invite Jane for tea, but as Jane goes alone on horseback, an ongoing storm and a zombie scares off her horse. As Jane tries to use her gun, it backfires injuring her hand. As she dispatches the zombie, she then sees a zombie mother and baby, which comes towards her.
We find out that Jane has been confined to a room at the Bingley residence and there is fear by Colonel Darcy that she may have been bitten. As Elizabeth goes to check on Jane, Darcy releases his flies to see if Jane is an undead, but immediately Elizabeth kills all of Darcy’s flies and returns each of them back to him.
But as Colonel Darcy is attracted to Elizabeth, other men try to win her over such as Parson Collins (portrayed by Matt Smith) and a solider named Wickham (portrayed by Jack Huston), who has bad history with Colonel Darcy for some reason.
As these three men try to win the heart of Elizabeth, can she find true love when England is being attacked by zombies?
“Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” is presented in 1080p High Definition and in 2:40:1 aspect ratio. The film features the talented cinematographer Remi Adefarasin (“About a Boy”, “Elizabeth”, “Johnny English”, “Match Point”, “Band of Brothers”) who manages to capture the beautiful settings, costume design and even the well-done zombie make-up effects.
Adefarasin manages to capture beauty and action with efficacy and picture quality looks fantastic in HD. Skintones look natural, costumes show amazing detail and for the most part, the film looks fantastic on Blu-ray!
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
“Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, English – Audio Description Track and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital. Dialogue and music are crystal clear through the front channels and the surround channels do a great job in picking up the action. While not an immersive film, the lossless soundtrack is good.
Subtitles are in English, English SDH and Spanish.
“Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” comes with the following special features:
- Gag Reel – (1:38) Featuring a short gag reel.
- Deleted Scenes – (9:55) Featuring eight deleted scenes.
- The Badass Bennet Sisters – (3:59) A featurette about the actresses who play the Bennet sisters and how the learned to fight and did their own stunts for the film.
- Courtship Class and Carnage: Meet the Cast – (6:54) The cast talk about their initial impressions about the script and more.
- From Austen to Zombies: Adapting a Classic – (6:00) A featurette about adapting the Quirk Books Novel “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” to a film.
- Creating the Unmentionables – (3:30) A featurette about the costume and makeup design in creating the zombies for the film.
- Mr. Collins Line-O-Rama – (2:35) Improvisation scenes featuring actor Matt Smith as Parson Collins.
“Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” comes with an Ultraviolet code.
When it comes to mashup films, similar to mashup music, you either be open to it or avoid it.
While music was something I could easily accept, for films, I have to admit that “Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter” was somewhat of a surreal experience. But I felt it worked in an unusual way.
When I heard about “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies”, the first thing that came to mind was, Jane Austen would probably wake up from the grave and go after those who would desecrate her popular classic novel.
But of course, there is that other side of me that has to chuckle and give the film the benefit of the doubt and see it for myself, as I have a hard time even imagining zombies in the “Pride and Prejudice” setting.
But lo and behold, as unusual of a concept that it is, I found the film to be rather entertaining and it helps when you have a talented ensemble cast with the likes of Lily James, Lena Heady, Matt Smith, Sam Riley to name a few.
“Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” does a good job of establishing the history of England and how the zombie infestation began.
But it’s the introduction of the Bennet sisters that catch your attention. Sexy and lethal, Lily James, Bella Heathcote and the other actresses do a wonderful job in their fight scenes. Having trained for the role and performing their own stunts, it was no doubt great to see this collective ala femme fatale dispatching zombies.
Actor Sam Riley does a wonderful job as the stoic Col. Darcy, Douglas Booth as the handsome gent after Jane’s affections and Jack Huston does a good job playing the man who would create the friction between Elizabeth and Darcy.
And of course, the film benefits from having talented, well-known celebrities such as “Game of Thrones” actress Lena Headey and “Doctor Who” actor Matt Smith.
The film also receives that extra touch with a solid budget, wonderful costume design and make-up, set design in order to recreate 19th century England and also adding to the “Pride and Prejudice” visual allure.
In many ways the film does a good job of balancing the romance and drama of “Pride and Prejudice” and of course, zombies.
But the film’s problems are mostly based on expectations on zombie infestations. The film plays out too serene and more towards the drama that the antagonists are less about the zombies, but similar to the original storyline, George Wickham.
While I commend the makeup design in making the zombies look terrifying, the actions are not. There is no true horror in the film, there really is no major gore or ripped limbs or anything that you can find usually terrifying in other zombie films, videogames or a “Walking Dead” episode. The film doesn’t take enough risks in becoming a true zombie film and those coming in and are expecting one, will surely be disappointed.
And it feels very unusual to say about a zombie film, that I loved the romance, the love triangle, loved the elegant costume design, loved the makeup, location shots, loved the sisters kicking zombie butt but yet not having anything to say about the horror or the frightening aspect of this zombie film because there are none. Sure there is peril, but it doesn’t feel frightening enough and that is a shame.
And so that is where “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” fails as a zombie film.
As for the Blu-ray release, picture and lossless audio quality were good and you get a good number of special features included.
Overall, “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” is an entertaining, fun film with an ensemble cast. It’s just not a good zombie film. Despite zombies being in the title, this is less of a horror film and more of a action/drama that you will enjoy much more. If you want horror and tense and frightening zombie scenes, you’re not going to get that with this film.
Otherwise, if you are entertained by the concept of a mashup of a classic novel and a zombie infestation, then “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” may be worth watching.
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