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Pride And Prejudice And Zombies (Blu-ray Review)

Pride-Prejudice-ZombiesBased on the best-selling novel by Seth Grahame-Smith and Jane Austen, PRIDE + PREJUDICE + ZOMBIES debuts on digital May 10 and on Blu-ray, DVD and next-generation 4K Ultra HD May 31 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. In this reimagining of the classic tale, the Bennett sisters and  Mr. Darcy must unite to fight a zombie outbreak that has taken over 19th century England. Lily James (Cinderella) leads an ensemble cast featuring Sam Riley (Maleficent), Jack Huston (The Longest Ride), Bella Heathcote (Dark Shadows), Douglas Booth (Jupiter Ascending), Matt Smith (“Dr. Who”), Charles Dance (“Game of Thrones”) and Lena Headey (“Game of Thrones”).  Written and Directed by Burr Steers and based on the novel by Seth Grahame-Smith, PRIDE + PREJUDICE + ZOMBIES is produced by Marc Butan, Sean McKittrick, Brian Oliver, Natalie Portman, Annette Savitch, Allison Shearmur and Tyler Thompson. Stephen Meinen served as co-producer with Sue Baden-Powell, Kimberly Fox, Edward H. Hamm Jr., Phil Hunt, Nick Meyer, Compton Ross and Lauren Selig as executive producers.

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Film 

A zombie outbreak has fallen upon the land in this reimagining of Jane Austen’s classic tale of the tangled relationships between lovers from different social classes in 19th century England. Feisty heroine Elizabeth Bennet (Lily James) is a master of martial arts and weaponry and the handsome Mr. Darcy (Sam Riley) is a fierce zombie killer, yet the epitome of upper class prejudice. As the zombie outbreak intensifies, they must swallow their pride and join forces on the blood-soaked battlefield in order to conquer the undead once and for all.

Well, this one really came and went from the theaters in a hurry.  Not a big marketing push either.  Usually means the studio doesn’t even believe in it, so why should you.  While I was a hint curious, I was sort of dreading getting through this movie.  Not quite rock bottom expectations, but hesitant ones.  To my surprise, I kind of, sort of, maybe found some enjoyment in this damn thing.

With a movie title like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, expecting some form of high art can be thrown right out the damn window.  I’d probably do the same with the book too.  Which, I’m not familiar with the book outside of picking it up years ago, looking at the cover and getting a nice snicker about it and then placing it back on the shelf.  With a project like this, I feel like they did everything they probably could have done right for it, its just the material probably isn’t strong enough to carry this over like they’d be expecting.

However, the film seems to realize that.  No, its not some meta “wink wink” kind of movie.  Its one that just kind of realizes that its trashy and dopey and runs with it.  The film trims the fat or makes its “dramatics” or dialogue connective scenes about as overdone and silly as they can.  All doing so while wearing a straight face.  If this is by accident I’m giving praise to this stuff, then sure.  But, the way this film was edited, shot, acted and narrated, I have to believe there is some intention behind most of it.  And I’m not sure its the kind of humor that will fall into a comfortable or recognizable place with a lot of audiences (or execs).

I found myself actually enjoying this cast and their performances.  Lily James, Sam Riley, Lena Headey and Matt Smith all ham it up for the camera pretty well and make for a goofy bunch.  Plus, the movie never forgets to toss in some zombie action.  It keeps a pace that never forgets that the film isn’t that great and needs to toss in a sacrificial zombie here and there to appease us viewer gods.  The gore and such is a mix of enjoyable stuff and some obvious CGI, but it works in a fun way.

Yes, I’m sort of defending this film here, but don’t take this as a rave or that I’ve found some hidden gem from 2016 that need to be seen or reanalyzed.  I’m just saying, if you were curious about this movie or you just like zombie stuff, you might find yourself enjoying it more than you expected.  Its a nice casual watch that surprised me by not being complete trash, or by the fact it kind of realized it was and ran with it.

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Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1

Clarity/Detail:  Pride and Prejudice and Zombies comes to Blu-ray in a lovely looking little transfer.  The film is a bit of darker looking one by design, but that adds a bit to the sharpness and crispness of the picture.  Details on all the luscious period clothing are terrific as you can see the fabric texture and patterns in abundance.  Blood spattering and carnage detail comes through nicely as well.

Depth:  I can’t remember if this was released as a 3D film or not, but there is some really good spacing on display here between foreground and background.  Movements are smooth and clear.  

Black Levels:  This is a very dark film, but the transfer handles it quite well.  Hair follicles, dark fabrics and surfaces all still maintain detail.  Dark scenes manage to still capture plenty of the details as well.  No crushing was witnessed.

Color Reproduction:  While a dark period piece, colors still come through with a nice strong, bold appearance in this palette. Its not a flashy one, but its colors do have a rich feeling to them.

Flesh Tones:  Skin tones are more on the colder side and maintain that appearance throughout the film’s duration.  Facial details likes cuts, scrapes, stubble, wrinkles, lip texture and make-up come through good in close-ups and medium shots.

Noise/Artifacts:  Clean.

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Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, English Descriptive Audio Service, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital

Subtitles: English, English SDH, Spanish

Dynamics:  This is a nice and eventful 5.1 mix to watch your pride, your prejudice and your zombies.  Environments are well covered and the dialogue scenes sound lovely.  This is an expertly mixed track as some of these scenes are lower mixed to make way for some jump scares and loud horror offerings.  It goes for an “in your face” approach and totally succeeds.

Low Frequency Extension:  This is a booming track where explosions, destruction, punches, head explosions and the like are all thumped to you by the subwoofer. 

Surround Sound Presentation:  Every channel here brings something to the table and is not laid to waste.  During the battles, there are sounds specific to the environment and goings on of other places in the field.  Movements and distances are accurately portrayed in this mix as well. 

Dialogue Reproduction:  Dialogue is loud, crisp and clear.

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Extras 

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies comes with an UltraViolet Digital Copy of the film.

Gag Reel (HD, 1:38) 

Deleted Scenes (HD, 9:55) 

The Badass Bennet Sisters (HD, 3:59) – A little EPK bit about the girls’ training and fighting in the film coupled with the elegant dialogue with which they speak.

Courtship, Class and Carnage: Meet the Cast (HD, 6:54) – This is that EPK featurette where they talk about casting and start patting everyone on the back for their different shades of brilliance.

From Austen to Zombies: Adapting a Classic (HD, 6:00) – This one talks about the books idea of the setting of the film, but seems to accredit all of it to the director.  They point out all the obvious points of the stories, but now with zombies.

Creating the Unmentionables (HD, 3:31) – A short piece on coming up with the look of the zombies and executing it for the final film.

Mr. Collins Line-O-Rama (HD, 2:39) – Some outtakes and alternate line readings/goofing around from Matt Smith.

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Summary 

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies probably has scared you off because of its very low key marketing, box office bombing and unfavorable scoring on aggregate sites.  However, its not at the theater anymore.  You don’t have to leave home, spend money on gas, buy popcorn and make time for travel to go see it.  No leaving the home.  I’m not saying this movie is an unappreciated gem, but there is a level of enjoyment to be found with it and its not the film I was dreading going in.  Its trashy, dumb and fun.  The Blu-ray comes with a great presentation and some very EPK extras.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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