It is a truth universally acknowledged that I love Jane Austen. Most people who know me are well aware that Pride and Prejudice is my second or third favorite Austen novel-depending on my mood and my attitude towards Captain Wentworth that day. It is also a truth nearly universally acknowledged that I do love a good parody. I dearly love to laugh, after all.
Therefore, it was with great delight that I read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies back in 2009. I took flack from some friends for enjoying a “rip-off” of Austen, but I didn’t mind. I liked the book. I thought that it continued the original novel’s themes well. I felt that zombification could be used as an analogy for the marriage market that Austen is so carefully criticizing in her original work. I immediately began hoping for a movie adaptation, but that was a bit slow in coming. It appears that many people were interested in such a project, but it took a while to get all of the ducks in order. And then, about about six months ago, it became apparent that all of the ducks were finally in order.
The movie came out yesterday, and naturally, I had to see it on opening night. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I don’t know when the last time a movie (that wasn’t made by Mel Brooks) made me laugh so hard. It was a bit violent, but overall, it was enjoyable. The acting was good. I really enjoyed Lily James as Elizabeth Bennet; I thought she brought the right level of independence and sweetness to the role. I felt that Sam Riley was delightfully gruff. Charles Dance was a pleasant surprise as a Mr. Bennet who would far rather see his daughter alive and in full possession of their mental capacities than happily married to men who would see them leave their zombie-fighting days behind them. Lena Headey was a divine Lady Catherine de Bourgh who reminded me of Madame Kovarian from Doctor Who, and I liked that about her.
However, my one gripe with the film is that while it contained the spirit of Seth Grahame-Smith’s novel, it was not terribly faithful to the novel. It was a true representation of the spirit of the novel, but it left many events out of the film. Now, I understand that this had to be done for the sake of time, but I’d really been looking forward to watching Lily James fight ninjas. Yes, it gave me a strong-willed Elizabeth Bennet. Yes, it gave me many moments of strong, independent women taking care of themselves. I had many pleasant moments of saying internally, “Yes! Sisters be doin’ it for themselves!” But there were no ninjas.
Admittedly, the loss of the ninjas was not the only change. The role of Wickham was changed, but I didn’t mind that too terribly. I felt the changes functioned well in the context of the film. A few things about Charlotte’s relationship with Mr. “Eleventh Doctor” Collins were changed, but that helped with the time management of the piece. Also, Matt Smith did an excellent job of playing an absurd Mr. Collins. But it would have been nice to see a showdown between Elizabeth and Lady Catherine’s ninjas.
Overall, it was enjoyable. I laughed a good deal, and that was definitely worth it. I would recommend it to people who like both Jane Austen and Monty Python. If you don’t like both of those things, you probably won’t like it. The script isn’t the greatest thing ever written, but that’s okay. I wasn’t expecting it to be brilliantly written. I have my Colin Firth-Jennifer Ehle P&P for that.
My official rating of it is a B. I would have given it an A if there had been ninjas, but no ninjas, no A.