The most amazing thing about this movie is that it works. It’s actually fun. The reason it works and is fun is that it sticks very closely to the original novel of Pride and Prejudice, even to as much of the actual dialogue as will fit. So you have a genteel comedy of manners about a life and death battle with zombies. During the first part, there are minor changes. Lord Darcy is introduced as a top zombie hunter. The scoundrel, George Wickham, clearly has an agenda much greater than running off with Lydia. Mr. Bennett had his five daughters trained in martial arts in China.
The scenes are priceless. The Bennet sisters say the lines from the novel while practicing their martial arts skills, slamming each other across the room. They dress for a ball in their exquisite dresses. As they dress, they attach their swords and knives. At the ball, all is formal until the zombies attack. Instantly, the five sisters whip out their weapons and go to war.
Later, in the scene where Elizabeth tells off Darcy for his bad attitude towards her family, the words are from the novel but she uses her martial arts training. He defends himself and they say their politely angry words while dueling with swords and knives.
All the best scenes are like that and I realized something. I have read Pride and Prejudice several times over the years. I love it and yet, there is an emptiness at its center. The society portrayed in such detail is focused on superficial etiquette and values. Elizabeth is so intelligent and strong willed, you long for her to do something meaningful. Her society gave her no work she could do without losing status. What was lacking was an attack by zombies where all these gracious ladies and gentlemen have to become warriors.
So the movie works until near the end when it has to depart from the novel in order to have some really big battle scenes. These are okay (yawn). The fate of the world is at stake (yawn). In other words, the movie becomes ordinary although there is a nice scene where Elizabeth rescues Darcy.
The final scene seems to set up a sequel. If so, I don’t think I’ll watch it. This was my first zombie movie and I’ve concluded I don’t like zombie movies except when written by Jane Austen!
Reviewed by Marian Powell