Sunday, August 21, 2016

In short: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (2016)

Obviously, for someone of my tastes, as goes for Seth Graham-Smith’s rather posthumous cooperation with Jane Austen’s zombified corpse this is based on, you can only improve on books about the Georgian marriage market by adding zombies and martial arts to them. For about the first half of the film or so, I even enjoyed myself immensely but after a time, various annoyances dragged the film down. These annoyances are very specific to my tastes, and are in part based on me taking this shit way too seriously, so any given reader’s mileage will certainly vary.

Firstly, the film sooner or later couldn’t help but land at the point where my dislike for certain elements of Austen’s work could no longer be contained, and not just the part where I’m never quite sure why I should care for whom these upper class people marry or not.

I loathe the way Austen turns their oh-so-important characters’ servants into mere furniture but I can cope with that and understand it as the writer being part of her time and social stratus. Watching a film made in 2016 that does take the time to add zombies to the whole thing but still doesn’t do more with servants (who are of course apart from that guy that gets dragged in the cellar nameless) is quite a different thing. Also not changed from Austen is the general philosophical outlook where characters complain a bit about playing the game of their society but actually not playing it (or at least dying dramatically trying that) is something that doesn’t even cross their minds. I do understand the whys and wherefores of that, too, but I never can get distracted by the writers’ wit enough to ever really get over it and relax into things. As a sort of Austen adaptation, the film unfortunately really doesn’t change any of this.

It even does add a few troubles all its own. I found the treatment of the intelligent still human zombies absolutely wrong, with the idea of finding a way for peaceful co-existence with them something that is relegated to the plans of bad guys (and is there an Austen version that treats Wickham as a person instead of a sexy panto villain?). Even worse, there’s that scene where the audience is supposed to cheer for Darcy’s cunning plan to feed actual human brains to these half-human zombies so that they turn from people into ravening beasts, which is the sort of thing we call a war crime around here. Consequently, I found myself rooting for the zombies.

Now, if you can stop yourself from overthinking all this quite as badly as I do, this is a well-made, well-acted film, though I’d argue one that could have done with doing a bit more thinking itself.

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