Movie Review: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
By Kaitlin Hooker
Set to release on February 5, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies creates a compelling, female-empowered twist on the classic love story by Jane Austen. Star Lily James of Downton Abbey and Cinderella portrays our heroine, trained both in Chinese martial arts and traditional English manners. This adaptation of the 2009 novel of the same name by Seth-Grahame-Smith, flips gender roles and female representation from our standard expectations and is not to be missed!
The main change in this surprisingly heartwarming re-imagining of the Jane Austen novel-turned-movie is, of course, zombies. However, this addition gives way to an arguably larger and more significant alteration of the story: female characters in positions of power. In the original Pride and Prejudice, the only power women possess is that of refusing marital proposals. Even this power is not absolute and is often treated with shock and scandal. In director Burr Steers’ 2016 adaptation of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, women train in combat and are often more skilled and capable at protecting themselves than the men around them. This is especially true in the case of bumbling Parson Collins, expertly played by Matt Smith, and the often ridiculous Mr. Bingley, who seems more concerned with what will be served for dessert than with the safety of his guests.
During scenes in which Elizabeth Bennett and her four sisters gave the camera stony looks and drew their various swords and daggers to enter battle with the undead, the audience in the packed El Con Mall theater hosting this early showing clapped and whooped and yelled, “Go girl!” Although most likely a biased sampling of future viewers of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, the preview audience comprised of highly supportive viewers of the new female power dynamic. Even Lady Katherine, played by the fierce Lena Headey, an imposing figure in the original story as well, is a famous warrior who ultimately comes to respect Bennett because of her prowess as a warrior and for her “resolve as a woman”. This emphasis on female empowerment throughout the adapted story is both wonderful to watch and does not in any way damage the romantic relationship that develops between beloved characters Bennett and Darcy, who seem to be equals in every way, fighting zombies side by side as well as enjoying a beautiful wedding at the end–though, is it the end?
The cast is packed with talented English actors: Headey and Charles Dance of Game of Thrones, Smith of Doctor Who and model turned actress Suki Waterhouse. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is a must see!
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