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By: Kimiyo Meadows

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies puts a dark twist on the beloved classic tale by Jane Austen.  Based on Seth Grahame-Smith’s parody novel of the same name, the romance-action flick retells the highs and lows of the Bennet sisters’ respective love stories as you’ll remember them from Pride and Prejudice.  Also woven into the plot is the looming threat of a zombie apocalypse.

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We are introduced to a much different universe than the one we know where leading lady Elizabeth Bennet falls in love with the moody, cryptic Mr. Darcy.  (I would tag this for spoilers, but the book came out in 1813, so…)  This version of 19th Century England is under attack by the undead.  The zombies — dangerously self-aware reanimated corpses — are hungry for brains, and every one of the living must fight back in order to survive.

These circumstances make for an interesting new set of rules and customs.  Each family is just as concerned with propriety as is to be expected in that era, but their norms also include young people of all genders learning defensive arts and handling weapons.  The gravity of the zombie situation requires almost everyone who is physically capable to learn how to fight.  That said, when judging a person’s competence in combat, gender is completely taken out of the equation.  Instead, one would consider where the person was trained, and how they actually fare when they are face to face with a monster.  Pride and Prejudice and Zombies makes it a point to level the playing field in this respect.  A woman who can defend herself is not considered impressive because she is a woman, but because she can defend herself.

The only contention here is that a woman must no longer fight once she is married.  This condition is a major factor in the story of Elizabeth Bennet.  She is determined to continue fighting for the rest of her life, even if this means being unable to settle down.  Early on, she reassures her sister that the “right man” for her would not ask her to relinquish her sword.  Her determination is tested a few times over the course of the movie.

Although there are some well-executed fight scenes and jump scares, if you’re planning on watching for the zombies more so than for the pride and prejudice, you may be disappointed.  It’s a story-heavy flick that goes on for a bit longer than your average zombie movie.  The action scenes are satisfying but sparse, particularly in the middle part of the film which focuses more on politics and relationship development among the sisters, their suitors, and their respective families.

All in all, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is a fun — if ambitious — movie.  Fans of the books will notice some departures from the source material (beyond the obvious ones), but can forego the nitpicking and enjoy this fresh take on the beloved characters who are well-rounded, intense, and very much alive.

3 stars

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