A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is both a romantic drama and a horror-action movie, just like the 2009 mash-up book by Seth Grahame-Smith (which itself was inspired by Jane Austen's classic novel). There's a lot of zombie violence, though it's largely bloodless, with more suggested than actually shown. Still, zombies are killed, and there are some scary and/or gross images, as well as martial arts fighting, swords, blades, guns, battles, and explosions. Characters talk a great deal about marrying each other; there's one scene of passionate kissing and a flirty fight scene during which a male character pops the button off the top of a woman's dress, exposing a bit more of her cleavage. Language isn't an issue, and characters drink only in social settings.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Elizabeth Bennet (Lily James) and her four sisters are the daughters of an English country gentleman (Charles Dance). Their mother (Sally Phillips) wants them to marry rich, but their father has trained them to fight zombies, the outbreak of which has spread throughout Europe. As various suitors make their attentions known, including the brooding Mr. Darcy (Sam Riley), it's revealed that a certain group of "leader" zombies might save the day. But as trust is betrayed and hearts are broken, the battle between humans and zombies escalates, and the undead creatures must be contained -- at least long enough for a wedding between Elizabeth's sister Jane (Bella Heathcote) and the handsome Mr. Bingley (Douglas Booth)!
Is it any good?
Perhaps not surprisingly, this is a poor zombie movie, but it is a pretty good Jane Austen movie. When it focuses on humans, the mood is playful, buoyant, romantic, and even funny. Director Burr Steers made his debut with Igby Goes Down (2002), a literate movie about smart characters, and in adapting Seth Grahame-Smith's 2009 mash-up novel PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES, he clearly brings that penchant to Austen's creations as well.
Unfortunately, Steers doesn't seem to care about zombies. His creatures are fast-moving action-movie zombies (i.e. not scary). Plus, the film's fast, jerky cutting is clearly designed to minimize gore, and the remaining visual effects are third-rate. Likewise, the martial arts fight scenes, while well-choreographed, are shot with an equal lack of care. Eventually, action takes over, and the movie suffers through too many dead spots. It's too bad that Steers couldn't have hired a good "B" movie co-director to boost the movie's zombie half.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Pride and Prejudice and Zombies' violence. How much blood and gore is shown? How much is implied? What's the difference in impact? Does exposure to violent media desensitize kids to violence?
Are the zombies scary in this movie? How do they compare with zombies you've seen in other movies?
What is a mash-up? How do you feel about zombies being added to Austen's 200-year-old story? Is it funny? Exciting? Inappropriate?
How does this take on Elizabeth Bennet compare with other versions of the character, either in movies, TV, or print? Is she stronger? More interesting? Less interesting? Do you consider her a role model?
Zombie-killing aside, what conclusions can you draw about the importance of choosing a mate carefully in love and in life?
- In theaters: February 5, 2016
- On DVD or streaming: May 31, 2016
- Cast: Lily James, Lena Headey, Matt Smith
- Director: Burr Steers
- Studios: Sony Pictures Releasing, Screen Gems
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Book Characters, Brothers and Sisters, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- Run time: 108 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: zombie violence and action, and brief suggestive material
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