Zombie Reviews . . . Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
By A. Zombie
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies delivers a timeless tale, rife with fighting, set in a post-apocalyptic, yet historical era. You can’t deny that it is oddly satisfying to watch a group of accomplished young women mow down a ballroom of zombies with naught but long daggers—which were concealed under their gowns—and some serious martial arts skills. Are there issues meshing the worlds? Of course. In the end, the film is visually satisfying enough to overlook most of it. As a boon, fans of the Pride and Prejudice story still find enough of the source to reconnect with their favorite characters in a whole new way. Or, as is one case, finally come to somewhat like what is possibly the most annoying character in literature.
Sam Riley and Douglas Booth in Screen Gems’ PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES.
The Pride and Prejudice story has enough twists and turns to make it a compelling tale. Adding in the undead posed a particular problem: How to keep the romance in the forefront without compromising a solid story about love’s place in the social structure by changing the setting to the apocalypse. In order to achieve this the quickest way possible, the film doesn’t open with the Bennet ladies and their marriage-worried parents—I will note that post-apocalypse Father Bennet has no interest in wedding off his daughters, only training them to survive. Instead, it begins with Darcy on the hunt for a zombie hiding in the midst of the upper crust. As far as first impressions goes, it’s a pretty sharp introduction. The first zombie isn’t a rotter, held back from the full transformation because he didn’t consume human flesh. Nevertheless, he’s infected and must be dispatched. It’s the first-person point-of-view kill which ruins the scene’s impact. Darcy is cunning and ruthless, then there’s this cheesy head-rolling moment with the camera. When it recovers from the point-of-view shift, the camera pans upstairs to a second, far more detailed zombie before the scene changes. The scene is crammed in before the traditional start to the PaP story, and the outcome of Darcy’s escapade, plus his failure to kill the second zombie, is dragged in again as a way to bring zombies to Bingley’s first party. At least it isn’t a single-purpose moment.
For the most part, the story itself is predictable if one is aware of the source material. There’s very few surprises, like Lady Catherine’s part as a one-eyed, sword-wielding leader in the human forces fighting the dead for control of London and the surrounding countryside. Even Wickham’s true nature, beyond being a cad and a narcissist, isn’t really shocking if one follows the natural progression of how the original book unfolds. I would’ve liked to see more effort to adapt the full story into something different. Lady Catherine remaining on the side of the angels bugs me in particular, seeing as she’s pretty awful to Elizabeth no matter what incarnation of PaP is being told. It would’ve been more shocking for her to side with Wickham over a common undead state than to willingly take in the Bennets, whom she sees as barely above her lady’s maid in social status.
Lily James and Bella Heathcote in Screen Gems’ PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES.
This is one horror film where it’s hard to do what we’re accustomed to: hoping all the lead characters bite the big one. Primarily, PaPaZ is a romance with relatable, quirky characters. The zombie war is there in the background to give Elizabeth and Darcy something to bond over, to put them on equal footing at last. That’s the big difference in this retelling of the classic. Elizabeth isn’t some seemingly-damaged suitcase her parents try to sell Darcy—and any other man without a bride— with no concern for her feelings. Yes, Mrs. Bennet’s marriage obsession plays a huge role in breaking apart the primary couple, as it always does, but it’s not as depressing as usual when looking at what Elizabeth has accomplished without a husband. Her prospects with zombies raiding England are better than they were in the actual historical era, all because their new society saw an education with the key sources far beyond the country’s borders as the only way to survive the menace—looking out to find a way to fix the problems within is something few societies embrace. Her progress in women’s self-empowerment doesn’t stop the entire Parson Collins plot from happening, though. He still arrives, annoys, and marries a Bennet daughter. Only this time around, Collins is somewhat tolerable because Matt Smith made him a bumbling fool, not a man coldly calculating how to sleep his way ahead in Lady Catherine’s good graces. Collins provides another opportunity to sew zombie conflict into the Bennet’s lives, but the potential went unchecked. The writer had a focus; Wickham’s established part as villain would be upheld. But why is he the villain? Why not any of the numerous people in Elizabeth’s life who degraded her for her gender or her place in society? Answer? He took a woman (property in the era) without permission. It’s a trope so old, I really hoped it would remain in the classic story and they’d do something different for the Wickham/Lydia plot.
The zombies in the film range in appearance. For the most part, they’re seen at a distance in groups. Few zombies get the close-up treatment, even fewer actually show grotesque wounds like traditional undead depictions. When the camera does get up close and personal with a zombie, I cringe. The design overall is great. Having undead waltzing around in these grand gowns and waistcoats strikes an oddly-pleasing discord. The illusion blows to pieces when one realizes there’s little practical gore on the actors. Featured dead have digital wounds; presumably to enhance the ick, plus make wounds deeper and move naturally during dialog. However, even the church girls on-screen for all of a minute appear to have digital rot on their cheeks instead of practical makeup. That’s where the design decisions stop making sense and become a headache for genre fans. The film cost enough without making the makeup digital. In a way, it feels we were cheated from a proper zombie battle scene because of the zombie design relying on digital gore. Yes, there’s a rather tense bit toward the end when they finally confront Wickham and the undead at St. Lazarus, but the camera is pulled back. Distance from the main threat in the film leaves the undead with the menace of a mosquito, not a lion hunting the countryside. It robs a little justice from Lydia’s rescue, as well, when there’s no real danger from zombies who are too far away to see clearly.
Overall, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies delivers what it promised: A classic story with zombies wandering in to seriously ruin everyone’s day more than Darcy’s absent sense of humor. Is it a perfect retelling of Austen’s novel? Hell no. Is it a decent zombie flick? Yeah, I’ll give it that. PaPaZ gets four majorly dislocated jaws out of five. Grab the film to enjoy beautiful things covered in blood n guts, stay for the witty snits between Darcy and Elizabeth.
Rating: PG-13 (intense frightening zombie sequences, violence and disturbing images) Starring: Brad Pitt, Mireille Enos, and Daniella Kertesz
First thing’s first, this reviewer is fully aware that World War Z is based on the novel by Max Brooks. However, seeing as they don’t give me any books—just stacks of movies to shuffle through—I haven’t read it. This review will focus solely on the merits of what was on the screen during the film. Nothing else. Now that the business portion is out of the way . . . have I mentioned how much of a pain it is to not only sneak into a theater without freaking out the humans, but also get a pair of 3D glasses to stay on when one of your ears fell off fifteen years ago in New Mexico? Let’s just say there was liberal application of duct tape in the moments before the lights dimmed and the film began.
World War Z starts off with disturbing news reports of a rabies-like virus sweeping over the globe. America is seemingly unharmed by this virus. Our hero, Gerry is happy to be at home with his family and not with his old bosses at the United Nations dealing with the mess. Then everything flips on its head. Gerry and family are caught in the middle of a sudden outbreak of the zombie virus. In seconds, Philadelphia is overrun with the undead. The family escape and Gerry is called in to help the UN figure out how to deal with the zombies. He’s sent to every corner of the earth searching for answers in unlikely places. In the end, it seems the world’s only hope stems from utter devastation.
The opening is slow, designed to lull you into a false sense of security while simultaneously feeding viewers information through numerous television news clips—the tried, true, and vastly overused method of plot progression available to the zombie film genre. This is of course after viewers suffer horrendous vertigo and nausea from the title sequence, which is designed to make maximum use of the 3D format. Essentially, you can get stuck in line for popcorn during the first seven minutes and not miss anything vital to the film’s plot. A zombie movie is a zombie movie, is a zombie movie. Anyone hoping World War Z would prove to be ground breaking and different in this aspect is fooling themselves.
That’s not to say once the action kicks in, the film isn’t interesting. The mechanics of the zombies alone cause a lot of heart-stopping, breath-holding moments, and even a handful of really well thought out scares. The zombies are fast. Obscenely fast. They have no physical limitations, easily leaping over two cars to take down their prey. Any reservations the person held alive are gone after death, allowing the undead to climb over each other, sacrifice each other in the name of sinking their teeth into something alive, or even bash their skull repeatedly into a car’s windshield in order to get to the gooey yummy treat inside. The makeup ranges from normal looking people covered in blood, to the hero zombies who were desiccated, rotting as they wait for fresh food sources. Two of the hero zombies in the final act of the film were by far some of the best zombies character-wise I’ve seen in any genre film. They were wild, uninhibited in their ferocity and sheer weirdness of undead traits.
Brad Pitt, despite reservations about an A-list actor stepping into a genre film, delivers a wonderful performance with the script he’s given. He brings to screen the only compassion seen from any character, really. Some of the supporting cast shine—most of the good ones don’t get nearly enough screen time. Other members of the cast failed to give a performance capable of making viewers want to see them survive. Isn’t that the point of being one of the main characters? We want to see you live, not listen to you whine, garble lines, and have little to no facial expressions. When a zombie has more facial expressions than the wife of the main character, a main character who’s in mortal danger, there’s something wrong.
What can be learned from World War Z? Duct tape is your best friend. Armor can be made from fashion magazines. The police are indeed people and cannot be relied on after the undead invade your city. And most importantly, if you’re not careful, a can of Mountain Dew could very well lead to your demise.
I’m going to give World War Z four severed hands, out of five. The epic scale of the film was hard to ignore—something genre fans haven’t seen since Romero’s Land of the Dead. Bypass the 3D experience, though. The foot chase scenes in 3D format induce headaches. Chewing on aching brains isn’t good eats. Think of the zombies waiting outside for a snack when you head to the theater.
Rating: PG-13 (Zombie violence and some adult language)
Starring: Nicholas Hoult, Teresa Palmer, John Malkovich, Rob Corddry
Another zombie film has hit the theaters, which means a day pass for yours truly to get out of the Zombie Survival Crew command center’s detention room for a couple hours. What is the latest zombie flick to hit the big screen? An adaptation of Isaac Marion’s novel Warm Bodies.
Boy meets girl. Boy eats girl’s boyfriend’s brain and absorbs his memories. Boy falls in love with girl and saves her from having her entrails spread over the ground. Girl begs her hard-ass father not to kill her undead love. Sounds romantic, huh? Not if you care about a little thing called necrophilia.
I had a hard time with the premise of Warm Bodies from the start. Not just because of my standing as one of the shambling undead. Zombies are, and have been for decades, soulless reanimated corpses who only want one thing—to feast on the flesh of the living. Going into the theater (hidden under a large Hello Kitty blanket), I knew I wasn’t the target audience for the film. The previews and trailers showed fresh-faced kids traversing the zombie apocalypse and surviving on the strength of their love. Call me jaded, but a gun goes a lot further to keep one safe from being eaten than doe-eyed heroic zombies.
The saving grace for the film is the smart, witty performance from Nicholas Hoult. He took what could have been dead (no pun intended) jokes and made them work with a well-timed glance or shrug. His counterpart, Teresa Palmer, started out the film strong-willed and capable of defending herself, however, as the movie progressed she became whiny, cried more than should be allowed in a zombie movie—even one billed as a teenage chick-flick—and could not keep up with the performance of her co-star. The production company did their best to make Palmer into a blonde Kristin Stewart—which is no surprise since the distributor for the film is responsible for releasing Twilight. Is it too much to ask for a young actress to thrive on her own merits? In a time when Hollywood is all about chasing trends and beating them over the head until their brains ooze across the floor . . . no. The film’s producers wanted a young woman with looks similar to someone who has been proven popular and shoved her in a role written to be dependent on a boy. And when things get too rough for her, she breaks down, cries, and then does some of the stupidest things ever witnessed in a post-apocalyptic film.
Congratulations, you replaced sparkly vampires with shambling corpses. Or did they?
The undead in Warm Bodies are vastly different from traditional zombies. The corpses, as they’re called, retain more of their humanity and are capable of minimal speech. They also move far too fluidly to be truly dead. The minimalistic effects makeup on the corpses made it difficult to tell who was dead and who was alive. I’m not saying they needed to have huge chunks of flesh falling off, but something more than pale skin and visible veins would have been nice. Again, the corpses were awfully similar to vampires.
Warm Bodies was fun to watch for the humor—most of it from R, the main corpse character. There are some cringe-worthy performances; a lot of repeated and unnecessary lines, and John Malkovich’s normal brilliance is buried under teen angst and daddy issues. As one of my undead companions said, it is a chick-flick worthy of a night-in with friends and your beverage of choice.
Overall, I’m going to give Warm Bodies three and a half gnawed-off fingers out of five. It had potential, but fell flat under the pressure to fit the current the teen movie trend of cute and heart-warming monsters instead of standing on its own merits.
I’d like to give a shout out to the Fresno Zombie Society for inviting me out to hang with them for the film’s screening. You guys sure know how to make sure a dead guy has a fun night out.
When it comes to zombie movies we know the drill: some terrible plague or catastrophic event has caused the dead to rise and crave the flesh of the living. Bonds of family and friendship mean nothing to these ambling undead cannibals. They are mindless, soulless and heartless. This is certainly the school of thought accepted by the remaining humans in Jonathan Levine’s Warm Bodies, but one brooding zombie boy might change their minds, and the world.
Rating: R (for sequences of strong violence throughout)
Starring: Milla Jovovich, Sienna Guillory, and Michelle Rodriguez
Another field trip out of the ZSC Command Center and into the world at large. This time around, I was stuffed into the back corner of yet another undisclosed movie theater to see Resident Evil: Retribution. I’ve been looking forward to this film since last year when the first pieces of casting news went out. The main question then was, “How in the world will they bring back these old series favorites?” The answer is slightly disappointing.
The Umbrella Corporation’s deadly T-virus continues to ravage the Earth, transforming the global population into legions of the flesh eating Undead. The human race’s last and only hope, ALICE (Milla Jovovich), awakens in the heart of Umbrella’s most clandestine operations facility and unveils more of her mysterious past as she delves further into the complex. Without a safe haven, Alice continues to hunt those responsible for the outbreak; a chase that takes her from Tokyo to New York, Washington, D.C. and Moscow, culminating in a mind-blowing revelation that will force her to rethink everything that she once thought to be true. Aided by newfound allies and familiar friends, Alice must fight to survive long enough to escape a hostile world on the brink of oblivion. The countdown has begun.
First off, please note the lack of any real, solid information in the synopsis. Alice discovers more about herself, she’s been doing that for the past four films. It’s a given that, at some point, we’ll learn something new. There is always something new to learn about this character. Second, we’re lead to believe that the plot of the story takes us all over the world. Ready for your first spoiler? It doesn’t. The characters are stuck in the same building for the majority of the film. The novelty of how vast the space is wears off very quickly and leaves viewers with a sense of cabin fever about half way through.
There were a few strange style choices made very early on in the film. Do viewers really need to see the same scene played out forward and backward nearly back-to-back? Hell no. They’re not stupid. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out, you’re repeating things—not only from prior films, but from this film as well—in an attempt to find more content. Wouldn’t it have been easier to write in an actual plot that covered more, instead of rehashing old Resident Evil plot lines to try and tie them up with pretty little bows made of infected intestines? The only breath of fresh air came from characters they brought over from the video game franchise. Even then, they weren’t given enough screen time to truly get to know the characters.
Speaking of characters…What the hell was up with Jill Valentine? Okay, sure, she’s all, “Umbrella Corp is cool” in the film. However, that is no excuse for the director making the actress come across horribly. Jill Valentine was great the last time she was in a RE film. A character so many were looking forward to returning got really poor treatment. And the other characters who seemingly came back from the dead? Spoiler number two: Filmmakers used the tired troupe of clones. Yes, clones. The only entertaining thing that came from it was a joke the youngest character popped off.
Things I learned from Resident Evil: Retribution – There is such a thing as too much slow motion. A Roomba can be refitted to shoot buckshot. There are no laws of physics in the Umbrella Corp facility. Undead Soviet Soldiers have bad aim.
I’m giving Resident Evil: Retribution three and a half gnawed on spleens out of five. If you want to go watch an end-of-summer film with lots of pretty fighting, fancy sets, and no over-complicated plot to get in the way, go for it. You get what you expect going in to watch a RE movie, blood, guts, and women in form-fitting costumes. And on the off chance that you dig that sort of thing, don’t worry. RE:R leaves plenty of room for another film.
Rating: Unrated (mild violence and adult language)
Starring: Dominic Monaghan, Ron Perlman and Larry Fessenden
I stepped outside my norm with this film. First, I Sell the Dead is a period piece. Secondly, this isn’t so much a zombie flick as it is a movie that happens to have zombies in it. Third, I let the casting sway my decision to watch. Hey, Dominic Monaghan made an impression in those movies about a ring or some such. Curiosity forced my hand. Good thing I’m not a cat, huh?
The film takes us through the career of a grave robber while he’s delivering his gallows speech to a no-nonsense priest. Right off the bat, what caught my attention was the humor laced in the script. There were moments that felt like one of those weird stage shows, very Waiting for Godot without all the, you know, waiting. Well there was some waiting, but that was me waiting for zombies (until I got impatient and looked in the mirror).
Via flashbacks we watch our friendly neighborhood grave robber become an apprentice and learn how, exactly, to break into a coffin. As time progresses he teams up with his mentor to grave rob as a full time job. They are forced by the tight grip of the law to look to other sources outside graveyards to procure corpses for the doctor that’s hired them. Their first try introduces the pair to the reality of vampires. After they successfully deliver the vampire’s body, the strange dead and undead begin to find them. Including the corpse of an alien, which sparks a turf war between rival grave robbing gangs. Apparently, being a ghoul is profitable enough to kill over. Who knew!
Eventually, as always happens, the final bit of fun and games happened when someone accidentally discovered packing crates filled with zombies. Our grave robbers are led into the fray by a pair of perky breasts disguising a ruthless heart and there’s a proverbial tug of war with the animated corpses that ends with someone losing their temper…and several important body parts.
While witty, some viewers may find the pacing of I Sell the Dead a bit of a turn off. This is not your usual horror flick with tons of jump scares, though it has a few moments where you don’t know whether to laugh or shriek. I give this movie three and a half severed arms out of five. If you want a dose of British humor with a swig of the morbid and dash of paranormal monsters, check out I Sell the Dead.
Starring: Brandon Routh, Sam Huntington, Anita Briem, and Taye Diggs
Zombies, and vampires, and werewolves… oh hell.
Poking around the internet usually leads me to a few shining gems as far as zombie movies goes. This isn’t exactly a zombie movie, but yet another film that utilizes zombies in some fashion. Never one to discriminate against my fellow undead, I decided to give Dylan Dog: Dead of Night a chance.
The film follows a private detective, Dylan Dog, and his assistant Marcus as they are dragged back into the realm of the supernatural for a murder case. This isn’t Dylan’s first trip around the paranormal merry-go-round and his past quickly catches up to pay a visit as he uses old connections to investigate the death of his client’s father. Luckily he’s used to dealing with the dead, while working Marcus meets with the toothy side of a zombie and is turned, without losing an ounce of his sense of humor.
Apparently in the universe of the film there are two types of zombies, those who feed on humans and those who don’t. Zombies who abstain from flesh eat worms and other gross things to get necessary nutrition. They are somewhat frail and decay quicker than their flesh-eating counterparts. All of the zombie rules were run through pretty quickly after Marcus awakes in the morgue, conveniently run by a pair of the vegan-esque zombies. I’m glad to see that for once the undead aren’t the bad guys, but instead function as comedic relief and sidekicks. About time, if you ask me.
Despite Marcus’s undead state, he and Dylan go on to do their sleuth thing. They go toe to fang with vampires and werewolves, even taking on the mother of all zombies. Oh and insert random demon, because we didn’t have enough paranormal entities to keep track of. (I had to take notes, no kidding!)
Dylan Dog: Dead of Night had a lot of potential. Unfortunately this movie suffered from casting problems. Actually, only one big, glaring problem… Routh as the jaded Dylan Dog. The character was written for someone at least ten years older. Unless there is a plot point, such as Dylan has an extended lifespan and only appears to be around 30, there’s no way to believe some of the dialog coming from his mouth. He talks of old times with the vampires and I can’t help but think, “What, you were chatting up vampires in your Pampers, dude?” If they’d tweaked the character I would have enjoyed Routh’s performance more. Instead it felt like he tried to do a bad Constantine impression.
I’m going to give Dylan Dog:Dead of Night three and three-quarter decaying feet out of five. Most of that goes to Sam Huntington for amusing me so much as a newly dead zombie. Brought back fond memories.
There comes a point where you judge a movie by its cover… and fail miserably—complete with flailing arms and desperate cries of agony. No, the cries weren’t from victims of a zombie attack on the screen. It was me. Crying and beating against the door of my cell. Lets just get this review of DIE-ner over with, shall we?
Here’s the story we were promised: A serial killer hitches a ride to a failing diner in the middle of nowhere. Realizing the opportunity handed him when the place is nearly deserted, he kills the minimal staff and sets up his own sort of murderer’s paradise. That is, until his victims start coming back to life with a hunger for flesh.
What came across felt, for the most part, like a string of bad auditions. There was even the bad audio where one actor could be heard clearly while the other’s performance sounded muffled as they stood behind the camera. Top that off with plain ol’ bad acting and five minutes in I wished for someone to come put me out of my misery. Only one actor, the guy playing the witless sheriff, seemed to be trying to do his part with any believability.
Normally I’d say, well… if the acting sucks and the script isn’t worth a damn, lets see how the makeup effects hold up. These too were disappointing. Protip for wannabe filmmakers: fake blood from the Halloween store looks awful on screen. Opt for a higher quality “Stage Blood” or make your own. A gallon of homemade blood is cheap and doesn’t look like you dipped your actors in red food coloring, then left them to dry in the sun.
This is one of those movies where everyone, even the zombies are Too Stupid To Live. That does not make for entertaining viewing. And where I’d normally try to find something nice to say, I can’t in this case. Oh wait; there was lots of duct tape. Everyone likes duct tape, right?
DIE-ner is bad heaped on bad, topped with bad. I give it one-and-a-half severed feet out of five. Save yourself the misery and avoid this film.
We in Zombie Survival Crew Command are always supportive of the projects and causes of those on the crew. Today, we bring your attention to an independent movie that two of our command crew happen to be working on.
Our Li’l Gangsta Anthony Guajardo and Second Lieutenant Viviana Chavez have a new project on the horizon and they’re looking to raise donations to help fund it!
It’s October 2001 and Andrew is a high school senior who has been in the care of his step-grandmother Stella for the better part of his life. He has no job, no friends, no girlfriend, no car and no money. Over the course of his life he has developed an anti-social personality largely in part to his Grandmother’s strict household and religious beliefs. Andrew has found an outlet in music and a girl he has a crush on named Rose. Our story takes place over the course of several days when Andrew’s routine life comes to a head.