Writer-director Burr Steers' film adaptation of Seth Grahame-Smith's quirk book classic "Pride + Prejudice + Zombies" was released in cinemas on Feb. 5 to mixed reviews. But that's not really surprising since, despite the success of the book, the story is still a diluted version of a literary classic, and an Austen classic, no less.
The film adaptation has been in the works for a long time, with its announcement made in 2009, the same year the parody novel was released. Yet, after several changes to the production team and the cast, the project only truly began in the middle of 2014.
The plot is just as the title suggests: Jane Austen's classic "Pride and Prejudice," but with the characters prepared to battle the hordes of zombies that arose due to The Black Plague thrown in.
"It has to be said that the first two-thirds of Steers' film has stretches that aren't too bad. That's because it is a fairly standard, albeit cheapo version of Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice," Jordan Hoffman says. "[T]he third act, which splits into an original story for long sequences, is a bore."
The actors pretty much did an excellent job with their respective characters, but considering the fact that two genres were meshed to appeal to a wider audience, much of the story has become a free-for-all bait that does not fully satisfy any specific audience.
"The problem is that the movie offers just enough to tantalize both fan groups - the Austenites and the horror fans - but not enough to fully satisfy either," Sean Means says. Also, if you're a member of the Jane Austen or Zombie fandom, you might agree after watching it.
That's not to say the production didn't try. It is just possible that the focus slipped, and instead of getting the two genres to come to terms with each other on the big screen, Steers may have focused more on bringing as many popular and excellent actors in the film to pique the interest of the audience.
"The writer-director Burr Steers came prepared for battle, if not much else, with appealing actors ... But as one zombie brain after another is pulverized ... the story's lone joke and its grinding literalness grow dull," Manohla Dargis says.
Now, genre mash-ups are not too bad, but it is possible that much of the negativity comes from the major chunk that belongs to Jane Austen and her much beloved novel.
It is only one thing to imagine an alternative history of someone's life, since not everyone's lives are fully documented - except, perhaps, those who are addicted to selfies and social media. Grahame-Smith's "Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter" made for a good alternative universe fan fiction of the president's life. However, it is another to take an established classic from the Literary Canon and add so much chaos in it, turn it into a film and make the characters deviate from how they were constructed.
"In truth, though, 'Pride and Prejudice and Zombies' isn't about finding space between two entities but about a perceived need to make boring old Jane Austen palatable to geek culture. ... [N]ot enough has been preserved from Austen's book to give it any presence," Scott Tobias says. "The only true zombie metaphor here is the impulse to turn everything into fodder for teenage boys," he concludes.
Whether you agree or not is up to you, but we have to agree with Tobias that, perhaps, not all those leg shots were necessary to show that the Bennet sisters were capable fighters.