I don’t really intend my blog to turn into a movie review site, but there has been more than the usual amount of activity in the period movie arena lately, begging some kind of response. (See previous post for my thoughts on Far From the Madding Crowd and Unleashing Mr. Darcy.) Most recently, we have the much delayed debut of Pride & Prejudice & Zombies. I can hardly allow such a thing to pass without comment, can I?
I know I said I didn’t plan to go see it. And I meant it at the time. I read the book years ago, not because I thought I would enjoy it (zombies not being my thing at all), but because I felt I needed to keep up with what was going on in my corner of the literary world – specifically Jane Austen Fan Fiction. My reaction to the book:
- intriguing concept (for the first few chapters)
- quick and easy way to write a book, when someone else has already written 3/4 of it for you (at least Seth Grahame-Smith rightly gave Jane Austen top billing)
- novelty quickly wears thin and then the concept is unsustainable
I shouldn’t admit my other thought at the time, which was, “Darn! Why didn’t I come up with the idea first?” I wouldn’t really have been interested in spending that much time thinking and writing about zombies, but I wouldn’t mind the paychecks associated with the franchise.
At any rate, one serving of zombies was quite enough for me, I decided. No need to see the movie version of P&P&Z.
That is, until it came out. I began hearing some pretty positive comments, and I was forced to reconsidered. Perhaps I should be more open minded and not prejudge. Perhaps it would be right (my duty, even) to support with my ticket purchase any company willing to risk millions producing a film paying tribute, however irreverently, to Jane Austen. After all, no one will make more Austenesque movies (The Darcys of Pemberley, I might suggest) if those already made lose money.
The deciding factor in the end was my husband saying he thought we should go see it together. Eureka! Date night!
In general, our tastes in movies cover very little common ground. My husband’s extensive private collection is mostly sci-fi, action, and adventure – lots of gun battles, car chases, and explosions, always with the fate of the entire world (or even the universe) hanging in the balance. By contrast, my more modestly sized collection heavily features romantic comedies, period dramas, and all things Austen. Finally, with Pride & Prejudice & Zombies, we had a movie that combined our interests into one. The basics of the timeless love story are still there, just with the escalated stakes and swordplay of a horror movie.
So we went; we watched; we both enjoyed. Even laughed out loud in spots. It turned out to be more campy fun than graphic gruesomeness. And the story made better sense than in the book, from what I can remember. This may be one of those rare occasions when the movie actually improves on the novel on which it’s based. Or maybe it helped that it only had to hold my attention for two hours, not twelve. Overall, though, I’d give it a B. The jury is still out on whether P&P&Z will earn a spot in his/mine/our home movie collection.
- Weak point: a less-than-swoon-worthy Mr. Darcy
- Highlight: a decidedly different take on Darcy’s first proposal to Lizzy
“Do you think any consideration would tempt me to accept the man who has been the means of ruining, perhaps forever, the happiness of a most beloved sister?” As she pronounced these words, Mr. Darcy changed colour; but the emotion was short, for Elizabeth presently attacked with a series of kicks, forcing him to counter with the drunken washwoman defense. She spoke as they battled: “I have every reason in the world to think ill of you…” (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith)
What say you? Have you seen it or plan to? Laughed out loud or hated it? I fear in this case there is very little middle ground.