Pride and Prejudice and Zombies 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Review
Sometimes a successful book can be seductive to Hollywood. The logic is sound; if a book sells a million copies, then there’s no reason to believe a movie based on the book wouldn’t be equally so. But the strange thing about PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES is that while I know several people that have read the novel from Seth Grahame-Smith, I haven’t actually met anyone that liked it. Opinions seem to vary from people that think it’s disrespectful to Jane Austen’s original work to people that believe it features way too much “Pride and Prejudice” and not enough “Zombies”. After sitting through the film, you can count me solidly in the latter category.
The story follows the exact plot outline of the Jane Austen novel, except with an impending zombie apocalypse in the background. The Bennet sisters are all looking for husbands, save for Elizabeth (James), who is more focused on her training to fight zombies and is only willing to marry for love. The sisters have a few sisters, ranging from the courageous but slightly obnoxious Mr. Darcy (Riley) to the bumbling coward Mr. Collins (Matt Smith). As the normal back and forth between the sisters and their suitors transpires, we follow the zombie storyline where each character has a slight variation to make them fit in. Mr. Darcy, for example, is a colonel in the army, intent on ridding the earth of the undead. All of the sisters are trained in various fighting styles. The crux of the story revolves around Mr. Wickham (Huston) and his relationship with Mr. Darcy and with Elizabeth.
In a film like this, director Burr Steers (17 AGAIN, CHARLIE ST. CLOUD) had to choose between going full-on zombie movie or full-on period piece. Instead, he tried to tow the line and ended up not delivering on either genre. As the movie progressed, I kept wanting him to go full-on zombie movie and give us more action scenes. The Bennet sisters were set up as being really cool characters that could crush some zombies. But we only got to see them in action once and that early scene was over almost before it started. Too much of the film was spent on the period-specific politics of courtship, much like the original novel from Jane Austen. Those films have their place, but if you go to the trouble of putting zombies in your film and creating a world in the middle of a zombie apocalypse, then you need to deliver on the promise.
Lily James didn’t have much to work with here, but I did enjoy the Downton Abbey star’s performance. I always like Jack Huston and he also did fine, but he deserves better than this. The only actor that underperformed was Sam Riley, who’s nasal delivery of every line started to weigh on me after a while. We also got a Lannister reunion with Lena Headey and Charles Dance showing up for some small parts. Headey’s Lady Catherine was another source of frustration since she was set up to be an all powerful warrior, but we never saw her in action. Again, another missed opportunity.
PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES is an odd film that could have been really fun. But it took itself too seriously and focused too much on Jane Austen’s source material and not enough on the zombie aspect. This could have, and should have, been a really fun, lighthearted movie. Unfortunately it never lived up to its potential.
4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY REVIEW
Video: To appreciate the 4K transfer of PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES, you’re really going to have to focus on the nitpicky details. This isn’t an overwhelming upgrade over the Blu-ray release, but as I’ve said with many Sony titles, I’m not sure if that’s an insult to the 4K transfer or a big compliment to their wonderful Blu-ray release. But with PPZ, the 4K benefits occur with some of the details, especially in the dimly lit scenes like when Elizabeth is fighting with her sisters in the basement. During that scene, you can see the details in the wood and the threads in her dress. Again, this isn’t going to blow anyone away, but the differences are there if you look for them.
Audio: The Dolby Atmos was a nice upgrade, but again, the upgrade is subtle.
There are no 4K exclusive features included on the 4K disc, but it does include a copy of the Blu-ray, which includes the following special features.
Deleted Scenes (10:40): Eight scenes in total, none of which made much of an impact.
Gag Reel (1:37): Traditional gag reel
The Badass Bennet Sisters (4:00): A quick featurette looking at the women that played the Bennet sisters.
Courtship, Class and Carnage: Meet the Cast (6:55): Another quick look at the cast of the film.
From Austen to Zombies: Adapting a Classic (6:00): A brief rundown of the challenges of combining the classic novel with a supernatural theme.
Creating the Unmentionables (3:30): Over three minutes dedicated to zombie makeup.
Mr. Collins Line-O-Rama (2:40): Matt Smith gives us some extra humor
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