HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
HTS Overall Score:85
It’s been a fun couple of years for films that take classic literature, or classic history and turn it into a gory, bloody good time. “Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter” was my personal favorite out of the genre and I know I have watched it about a dozen times and never get tired of the film. Not far behind was “Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters”, which took the old classic Grimm fairy tale and turned it into a cheesy mess of one liners and gory violence that was just what the doctor ordered. Now it’s time to attack Jane Austen with one of her most prized books as the target. As with “Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter”, “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” was actually a book that remade the ancient story by a just, well, adding some zombies. In fact it was by the SAME author who wrote the “Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter” novel as well. It’s a quirky take on the old English romance, but the movie slightly deviates from the source material (and I’m talking about Seth Grahame-Smith’s book, not Jane Austen, although that SHOULD be obvious to everyone), and ends up taking itself waaaaaaaaaaay too seriously for its own good (which is actually kind of strange considering that Seth Grahame-Smith himself went on record saying that it was supposed to be a tongue in cheek book and he did it completely on a whim).
We all know the story of “Pride and Prejudice”. A young Miss Elizabeth Bennet meets the handsome Mr. Darcy, and while they don’t get along at first, the two fall in love after the standard miscommunications are cleared up. Well, this time the Bennet sisters are no longer young ladies in a jolly old England, or at least they aren’t the type of ladies one might imagine. They don’t drink tea with their pinky extended and sit around waiting for a man to rescue them. Instead they are trained in the Shaolin martial arts and carry blades under their dresses at all times, being that there has been a zombie uprising and all of England is on high alert as the undead ravage the land. Instead of MR. Darcy, it is now Colonel Darcy (played by Sam Riley), as his aristocratic status has elevated him to the rank where he is free to hunt down the zombies that infiltrate the human world and kill them. Upon arriving at the Bennet’s home Darcy soon finds himself at odds with Miss Elizabeth Bennet (Lily James), only to find himself annoying attracted to the incredibly talented and independent warrior.
While Elizabeth LOATHES Colonel Darcy due to some poor information and the classic game of telephone, she is also under “attack” by several other suitors that she is repulsed by even more, including her own cousin, the simpering and boorish Parson Collins (Matt Smith, of “Dr. Who”). To make matters worse the zombie hordes are overwhelming the British forces, causing her to team up with Mr. Wickham (Jack Huston), a soldier in the king’s army who has a unique plan of bringing peace to the war, even if it may be on shaky grounds (readers of the book will already get an idea where this is headed).
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=71489[/img]It’s almost like retreading old ground to try and explain the plot elements of “Pride and Prejudice”, but really it’s best to just stick with how it’s DIFFERENT with the addition of flesh eaters. The first half of the movie follows the ORIGINAL novel by Austen decently well, keeping with the theme of how things play out. Darcy comes, Elizabeth and he are at odds, he leaves, she starts trusting in Wickham only to have that trust betrayed. However it is the second half of the movie where thing get interesting and where it actually departs from Seth Grahame-Smith’s book as well. While his take on the whole situation was DEFINITELY a bit different, it stuck with the plot points that Austen laid out. For some reason Director/Co-writer Burr Steers decided to create a whole subplot of the zombies and the 4 horseman that takes a drastic change of direction from the source material. I’m not sure whether I like the change or not, but it is very odd that they chose to do that when Grahame-Smith’s book already had large enough deviations as it was and the ending would have been perfect.
While I liked the movie, I have to say that it suffers from a fatal flaw. That flaw being the fact that it took itself WAAAAAAAAAAY too seriously. The “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” novel was very tongue in and cheek and Grahame-Smith has gone on record saying that it was meant to be that way. The film adaption is very very serious in everything it does, no matter how ludicrous the actions might be. Which in turn makes the film seem even cheesier and more ridiculous than if the audience is chuckling along with the movie. The romance, the action, the gore is all taken with the utmost British seriousness and sadly that’s where I have to see the cracks spread. The acting was well done, and Lily James made a great warrior Elizabeth Bennet, but the highlight of the movie happened to be Matt Smith as Parson Collins, and that was really because he was so foppish that a humor starved audience was able to laugh at his character.
Rated PG-13 for zombie violence and action, and brief suggestive material.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=71497[/img]While the audio for a Blu-ray and a 4K UltraHD Blu-ray can be graded on the same plane, The video encodes are not due to the expanded resolution and differing qualities that are not available on standard Blu-ray, thusly, while I graded the film a 4.5/5 for both formats a 4.5/5 UltraHD will definitely be different and better than a 4.5/5 Blu-ray. The 2.39:1 AVC encoded UltraHD manages to look simply spectacular, employing a unique set of optical effects and color grading tones to achieve a beautiful looking image. Colors are usually rather bright, with the rich red of the British soldier’s uniform and the deep black and blues that Lizzie wears, as well as some softer hues of white and amber to create the standard period piece “look”. With that being said, there are several portions of the movie (mainly the area around Lazarus) that look a bit drained of color and employ a grey color tone that looks rather desaturated and grim. Also there are some strange optical effects during those bits that give it a sort of hazy/gauzy look. The strangest of the optical effects is that once in a while there would be a scene where the center of the screen was in focus, and as the picture moved out to the sides, away from the center of focus, it got progressively more out of focus. Basically drawing your gaze directly to what was in the center of the screen. Whites are pushed a bit high, creating some blooming effects around the girls faces as well as their white evening dresses The HDR allows from some simply BRILLIANT colors at times, with deep deep reds that surpass the Blu-ray edition as well as a sense of depth in the shadows that easily surpasses what we’ve seen before. The shadows don’t suffer from the fleeting banding that I noticed on the Blu-ray and the dark seems to show MORE shadow detail upon closer examination. The movie was given a 2K upscaled digital intermediary which I assume is where the master came from on both the Blu-ray and the 4K edition and while it has some very unique color grading and optical effects, the 4K edition just looks that slight bit better, allowing for richer colors and sharper clarity where it really counts.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=71505[/img]While I rate the video differently the audio will always be on the same sliding scale as Atmos and DTS:X tracks are already on Blu-ray releases so comparing the audio on a 4K release with a Blu-ray release will be on par with each other. As a result I'm bumping up the rating on this version as the Blu-ray is left with a 5.1 DTS-HD MA track, while the 4K edition is given the fully decked out Atmos track (with a Dolby TrueHD 7.1 core for those of you without Atmos setups). I have to say that the movie gets a distinct uptick in quality as the surrounds feel a little more accurate and the bass really kicks it up a notch with a fuller and richer embrace. Dialog is crisp and clean as usual, but the surrounds get some great used with the added 2 channels in the rear as well as the object oriented sounds that come from the heights. The zombies shrieking and roaring come from above, behind and in front, and the clashing of blades and slashing flesh encompasses the viewer just ever so slightly more. The same great quality that I experienced from the DTS-HD MA track is there in spades, but just expanded and given a little more range and depth making it ever so slightly better. Below is what I wrote for the DTS-HD MA track (in bold) so it can expand on what I'm saying
“Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” is blessed with the best part of the movie being a simply fantastic 5.1 DTS-HD MA track. Sadly the Blu-ray does not share the Dolby Atmos track that the 4K UltraHD Blu-ray does, but it is still spectacular nonetheless. Dialog is crisp and clear so that you can hear every bit of old English vernacular without fear of straining. The dynamic range is actually quite expansive with soft spoken words switching dramatically to loud explosions and the throbbing base line that accompanies the Bennett sisters before they slaughter a horde of undead flesh eaters. The surround activity is incredibly well done, with a nuanced directional shifting that puts the viewer right at the center of the action when combined with the very active front stage. LFE is punishing at times, sweeping the room with deep waves of bass that comes into play during the copious combat scenes as well as for dramatic effect when necessary. Said LFE is not ALWAYS present as with many action movies, but knows how to judiciously slide into the background when it is not needed. Simply a superb 5.1 experience and one that would have been labeled a 5/5 at one time, but with the advent of Atmos and DTS:X it has to slide back just a hair.
• Deleted Scenes
• Mr. Collins Line-o-rama
• Gag Reel
• Four Featurettes:
- “The awesome Bennet Sisters”
- “Creating the Unmentionables”
- “Courtship, Class and Carnage: Meet The Cast”
- “From Austen to Zombies: Adapting a Classic”
“Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” is a fun little excursion into the ridiculousness, and while it doesn’t live up to the more entertaining (and certainly crazier) “Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter” and “Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters”, it has its own charms and appeals that allow for good solid popcorn fun. I tend to hesitate on this one over the above mentioned not for the blood, the gore, or the lunacy of zombies amongst classic literature, but for really taking itself too seriously and not acknowledging the sheer lunacy of the situation as the others did. Audio and video are nothing short of spectacular, but and the same extras that were included on the Blu-ray also port over to the 4K disc (although not IN 4k sadl). Recommended for a fun watch.
Starring: Lily James, Lena Headey, Same Riley, Jack Huston
Directed by: Burr Steers
Written by: Burr Steers (Screenplay), Jane Austin (Novel)
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 AVC
Audio: English: Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 Core)
Runtime: 107 minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: May 31st 2016
Buy Pride and Prejudice and Zombies On Blu-ray at Amazon
Buy Pride and Prejudice and Zombies On 4K UltraHD Blu-ray at Amazon
Recommendation: Fun Watch
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