Pride & Prejudice & Zombies looks…okay?
I’ve been writing about Pride & Prejudice & Zombies almost as long as I’ve been writing for LaineyGossip. Once upon a time, it was developed as vanity project for Natalie Portman, but she ended up abdicating the role of Elizabeth Bennet—though she did stay on as a producer—and what followed was a merry-go-round of casting and director changes that finally resulted in Burr Steers (Igby Goes Down) coming in as the writer/director and Lily James taking on the role of Lizzie Bennet. The last I wrote about PPZ, I didn’t have a lot of faith in the project.
And now I have even less, because at least back in 2011 I didn’t know how truly godawful Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter would turn out—it BLOWS. It took a really fun and cool book and turned it into absolute garbage, the result of director Timur Bekmambetov’s ability to render any story incoherent and a hatchet job in editing. I maybe trust Burr Steers a little more—Igby Goes Down holds up—but something about Seth Grahame-Smith’s writing seems to baffle filmmakers. He basically does in writing what Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement do in film, which is balance taking a premise completely seriously and telling a story with tongue planted firmly in cheek (Waititi is going to direct Thor: Ragnarok, which is PERFECT). But for some reason no one has been able to translate Grahame-Smith’s novels to the big screen.
Has Steers cracked it with Pride & Prejudice & Zombies? The first trailer is here and I’m not sure he has. I’m into Lily James’s voice over, but that may just be leftover affection from Cinderella. And I like the shot of the country house and lake, clearly referencing the famous Colin Firth BBC Pride & Prejudice lake scene. But then…it’s weirdly serious. And this was a big part of what sunk Abraham Lincoln—taking it too seriously. You have to commit to outlandish material like this, but you can’t take the actual story too seriously—check out What We Do in the Shadows to see how it’s done—and this looks a little too earnest. The end of this trailer is going for epic badassery where it ought to be going for a laugh. Pride & Prejudice & Zombies is a comedy, but looking at this trailer, I don’t think anyone involved knows that.
PS: The dudes in this movie do nothing for me. Nothing.