If you are a die hard Jane Austen fan, like me, then perhaps you are or were skeptical about the merits of a book that adds blood, gore and the undead into the prim and proper world of Austen’s Regency Era story. Guess what…the resulting work is simply astoundingly fun! A match made in
heaven or rather…hell!!
Let me assure you…the movie is no less awesome than the book! I was worried that the film adaptation might skimp on the story and go straight for the gory, but the sweeping romance of Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet’s love story was not sacrificed.
I was also skeptical about Sam Riley’s, Mr. Darcy. He does not have the countenance that I have come to expect from my Darcy’s. But I have to tell you on the scale from Colin Firth to David Rintoul…I’d place Riley above below Matthew Rhys, but above Elliot Cowan. If only because I’ve never met a Darcy I didn’t like and there are 10, in my estimation, that deserve ranking. Sam Riley definitely gave a solid Darcy performance and upon multiple viewings, I expect him to rise in esteem. The curious thing to me was the timber of his voice. It had a gravelly quality to it that at first I did not care for. But given the dark nature of the zombie apocalypse it started to fit in better than a more refined English accent. All in all, a very charming addition to the Darcy family.
As high as my standards are for Mr. Darcy, they are even higher for the second oldest Bennet sister. Perhaps it’s because I identify so closely with her that I hold her in such high and lofty esteem. Lily James has everything that an Elizabeth Bennet should have. A love of longs walks, a ready wit and oh yeah, she kicks serious zombie ass…a quality I never knew I always wanted in Elizabeth Bennet. Her chemistry with Sam Riley is tangible. Especially in the famous proposal scene, where Mr. Darcy makes his love and his reservations about their match known. Let’s just say Elizabeth, a trained warrior, doesn’t take the insult of his proposal lightly and more than just verbal sparring ensues.
It’s the first time I was ever rooting for Mr. Collins, even if just slightly. The incomparable Matt Smith enters the scene as the silly, ridiculous, irreverent Mr. Collins. But where his predecessors have played the role with nauseating smarm, Smith manages to make Collins seem charming (the only other Collins who achieved a level of charm is Maxwell Glick’s Ricky Collins from the You Tube sensation The Lizzie Bennet Diaries.) It probably helps that I’m incredibly biased towards loving all things Matt Smith, seeing as he is Doctor Who and all! He will always get my vote. I was happy that Charlotte Lucas got to have such a delightful match, though Charlotte herself in this film is quite forgettable.
Lady Catherine de Bourgh
I cannot go further without mentioning another powerhouse in the world of geeky fandom. Lena Headey, Cersei Lanister herself, rounds out this cast as Mr. Collin’s benevolent patroness, the Lady Catherine de Bourgh. Except once again, with delightful twists in store for the fan of this classic story. Lady Catherine is no mere aristocrat sitting on her laurels and passing judgement on the Misses Bennet. She is a hardened warrior who has slayed hoards of zombies and even has an eye patch to show for it (a patch used for necessity, not vanity.) When she confronts Elizabeth about whether or not Darcy has made her an offer of marriage, she does more than ask a few tough questions.
The rest of the players are aptly cast, though widely forgettable. Except for the nefarious Mr. George Wickham who is played by the very charming Jack Huston. So charming, in fact, that I was hoping Wickham would end up being as delightful as the man who played him. Alas, Wickham remains a scoundrel in this adaptation as with all the others.
The Walking unDead
As a fan of all things zombie and all things Jane Austen…my standards on both sides are always very high. I equally expect my romance to be sweeping and my head shots to be brutal. So I am happy to say that I was as satisfied with the portrayal of these beloved characters as I was with the zombie effects. The shots were so resounding that I could feel them in my chest. The zombies were believable…the blood and guts visceral. And the action was fast paced and hard-hitting. It’s as much an action movie as it is a romance. What better way to get boys to appreciate the wonderful world of Austen…just add zombies!
All in all, a really fun movie. I watched the entire thing with a gigantic smile on my face. But, reader… I did not walk away unscathed…
Thanks to Lootcrate for infecting me with the zombie virus!!