In order to understand a review of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, it might behoove readers and moviegoers to first understand the world in which the characters live. For that reason, I have included the following:
A Young Lady’s Guide to Surviving a Zombie Attack (1700-1800)
- Keep your eyes open. A zombie that is recently undead is difficult to detect. As the zombie eats more brains, it will become increasingly undead and easier to recognize. Be vigilant and stay on your guard.
- Always carry a weapon. Knives may easily be concealed in one’s garters and/or boots, and carried into balls and other social engagements without interfering with one’s dancing. When travelling out of doors, muskets and swords should also be carried and ready for use.
- Remember your training. Whether you received your combat training in Japan or–for those who are less elegant and refined (such as the Bennett sisters of Longbourne)–in China, rely on the skills you have honed and practiced so diligently. They will keep you alive in a zombie attack.
- Work as a team. When combating the undead, it is far better to fight as a cohesive unit than as separate individuals. The five Bennett daughters of Longbourne estate in Hertfordshire, though they possess many unrefined and inelegant qualities, exemplify this principle. The sisters do not always agree, and are even at odds at times, but they work as a cohesive unit in battle.
- Fight for your own survival. A young lady cannot always rely on a gentleman to protect her against the undead. She must be prepared to fight. A gentleman may not be present during the attack. When gentlemen are present, a young lady must still be prepared to fight–gentlemen move slowly at times (and some may not even be able to fight at all).
- Practice makes perfect. Combat training should be part of a young lady’s daily life. Simply allot time for it among your other accomplishments–such as music, singing, drawing, dancing, etc. The Bennett sisters all practice together on a routine basis, setting an example for other young ladies who wish to be accomplished in the art of combat. At Longbourne, the training ground is in the cellar; alternatively, you may construct a training area on the grounds of your estate.
- Maintain cleanliness and decorum. When battling the undead, keep your dress, gloves, and boots free from blood and other bodily fluids. Furthermore, a zombie attack is never an excuse for a dishevelled coiffure or a disorderly wardrobe.
Fast-paced, funny, and totally tongue-in-cheek, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies was exactly what I expected: a fun and silly movie with little relevance to Jane Austen’s classic other than the time period, names of characters, and broad-stroke story points. In this alternate-universe Regency England, the nation of Britain is a war zone–heavily fortified and on the defense against the ever-increasing threat of zombies. Mr. Darcy (Sam Riley) is a colonel in the army, with a soldier’s eye for danger and impeccable combat training. Elizabeth Bennett (Lily James) is the second eldest of five daughters–who are all warriors. Lizzie and her sisters must battle the undead while also finding suitable husbands. Lily James is a fiery Elizabeth Bennett, Lena Headey is a formidable warrior Lady Catherine de Bourgh, and Matt Smith is hilarious as the prattling and tactless Mr. Collins.
In the midst of all the zombie attacks and tongue-in-cheek silliness, one thing is made clear: in spite of anyone’s pride or prejudices, it is essential for people to unite in the fight against evil. When a common enemy threatens their lives and their homeland, sibling rivalries and social disparities are irrelevant. Good must fight against evil.
As a fan of Jane Austen’s classic, I never considered comparing her book to this movie. (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is actually a novel by Seth Grahame-Smith, which I have not read). So if you are looking for a Jane Austen fix or a cinematic masterpiece, this is not the film for you. However, if you’re looking for a fun and silly zombie romp with a lot of girl power and early-19th-century fashion, look no further.