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No Pride, Lots of Zombies

Pride and Prejudice-1-680

       Jane Austen has proved to be one of the most durable authors of modern times, judging by how many adaptations, extrapolations, and rip-offs of her work have been filmed over the past thirty years. Who would dream that a movie called Pride and Prejudice and Zombies would be the dullest one of all?

       Even the adaptation of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (based on a mashup novel by the same author, Seth Grahame-Smith) had more going for it than this tiresome film, written and directed by Burr Steers. The premise, laid out in a handsome but tedious title sequence, is that England has been invaded by an army of zombies who threaten to decimate the landscape and its population. That includes the Bennet family, headed by Charles Dance (in a thankless role), and its four sisters, led by headstrong Elizabeth (Lily James). Like her siblings, Elizabeth has had martial arts training and is right handy with a sword. And in keeping with Austen tradition, she takes an instant dislike to a newcomer known as Mr. Darcy (Sam Riley).

       James is quite likable and surrounded by a competent cast, including Bella Heathcote, Jack Huston, Lena Headey (sporting an eyepatch), and Matt Smith, who adds welcome comedy relief as a socially inept parson with designs on the eldest Bennet sister. 

       But Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is neither fish nor fowl: neither gruesome or inventive enough to rank as a good horror film nor witty enough to do justice to the usually indestructible Jane Austen. I couldn’t wait for it to be over. 

8 comments

  1. Jody Morgan says:

    So, I’m guessing this film won’t be part of the Library of America’s "The Moviegoer" series?

  2. Lee says:

    Well it’s not as if Jane Austen is worth adapting. Her novels were excuses to show rich people doing rich people things.

  3. heckle says:

    I’m curious, Lee – how many Austen novels have you read? While Austen’s novels are many things, your reductive description suggests that you have missed the nuanced and incisive social criticism Austen served up. It’s fine not to like them, but to suggest they’re not worth adapting is ludicrous. And since directors like Ang Lee and Joe Wright obviously also disagree with the notion that her work is ‘not worth adapting’ maybe you should revisit her work and think again?

  4. Mark says:

    You walked out on Zoolander 2 but STAYED for PAPAZ?

  5. ms says:

    Critics are embittered individuals who were never invited to the party and it shows. Where do you get off making a living criticizing things you know nothing about? Watching a million movies doesn’t make you an "expert" or even a representative voice. It just makes you super smart because there are people out their willing to pay you to do that. How do we know you aren’t part of an elaborate hoax to sway public opinion whichever way the buyers want us to think? I say screw all film critics, watch the movies for your self and do your own thinking for a change. The movies do a good job getting us into the studios but lets do what movies were meant for in the first place, go have fun. So what if he thinks Zoolander sucks that doesn’t mean it sucks it just means he has no idea how to be happy anymore. Remember Zoolander is cast as a really really good looking guy. First of all he isn’t and its all in his and everuone else’s head and secondly he’s not smart so why go in expecting to watch somethind intelliget? Go in with your friends, have a hoot, go out and get drunk and laugh a lot and go home in a sober cab. Thats what that movie is for you idiot! (talking to the fim critic) Lighten up and have a really really large bowel movement or 50 and live!!

  6. ms says:

    llllots of typos and gramatical errors deliberately left in for the critics to correct!

  7. knova says:

    @Lee
    “Well it’s not as if Jane Austen is worth adapting. Her novels were excuses to show rich people doing rich people things.”

    Are you familiar with the movie Clueless?

  8. Jody Morgan says:

    @MS: Well, I sorta doubt you’ll return and look at these comments again, but I want to ask: Why should we give your opinion any more weight than Leonard Maltin’s or, say, Susan Granger’s? And how do you explain that Zoolander 2 currently has a 36% *audience* rating at Rotten Tomatoes, and a 5.4 rating at IMDb? And if Maltin has no idea how to be happy anymore, why did he write such positive reviews for crowd-pleasers like "Kung Fu Panda 3" and "Star Wars: The Force Awakens"? I can agree that one shouldn’t let a critical consensus, much less a single critic, dictate one’s taste in movies or one’s decisions on what to watch, but to be honest, you just sound like you’re upset he couldn’t stand a movie that you greatly enjoyed. Lighten up; different people have different tastes and different standards, and if you love "Zoolander 2", I’m not going to tell you that you’re wrong.

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