REVIEW: “PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES” (2016) Lionsgate

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Featuring a talented, mostly younger British cast of actors that I truly like and admire, I must admit I have been looking forward to this take on Jane Austen/Seth Grahame-Smith’s mash-up of “Pride and Predjudice and Zombies” for some time now. And yes, it delivers – if of course what you are looking for is a sure-fun little take on an iconic story. Here the zombie apocalypse has landed in the middle of Austen’s prim and proper story, including the now-famous attraction between Elizabeth Bennett (Lily James) and Mr. Darcy (Sam Riley).

Anyone expecting the seriousness of Ms. Austen’s 1813 novel will be disappointed ~ hence the title should have provided a pretty solid hint of that to most. While her characters and general story line act as a structure here, I expect most critics to destroy this one because it’s made simply for fun, not for art.
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Of course, any Pride and Prejudice spin-off ~ even one with zombies ~ must pay meticulous homage to Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy. In this versions, it turns out that Elizabeth and her four sisters are highly trained warriors raised to survive and fight against the undead. Mr. Darcy is billed as a zombie hunter and protector of Mr. Bingley, the rich bachelor hooked on Jane Bennett. We follow suit on the original story as things are still made topsy-turvy by the devious Mr. Wickham, Lady Catherine de Bourgh, and especially the flamboyant Parson Collins. The interactions between the characters juggle between loyalty, romantic attraction, emotional chaos and hand-to-hand combat – with just enough comedic elements that most viewers will find plenty of opportunities to get some good laughs in. Make no mistake though, this is no ‘Walking Dead’ rip-off and it’s nowhere near as gory with it’s details.

Lily James and Bella Heathcote in Screen Gems' PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES.

Lily James and Bella Heathcote in Screen Gems’ PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES.


And yes, this talented cast is all in. They play it mostly straight to achieve the balance between somber and silly. Lily James and Sam Riley again, are both fun to watch as Elizabeth and Darcy. They are the film’s best fighters with both swords and words. Jane (Bella Heathcoate) is “the pretty one”, who is wooed by the simply stunning Douglas Booth as Mr. Bingley.
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Lena Headey makes an impression in her limited screen time as an eye-patched Lady Catherine de Bourgh, and Jack Huston is well cast as the devious Mr. Wickham. Screen veterans Charles Dance and Sally Phillips take on the role of parents to the five Bennett daughters, but it’s Matt Smith, who turns the film fun with his comedic timing and his unconventional twist on the oddball Parson Collins, who pretty much steals each of his scenes.
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Even though this entertaining film offers plenty of fun with laughs, action and romance, I am hoping it doesn’t kick off a new zombie-adaptation trend as that would truly get annoying and mundane. Personally, I just like to be entertained, even sometimes in the silliest ways like this film did for me.

Grade: C+
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Nationwide release on Friday, February 5, 2016

REVIEW: “THE IMITATION GAME” (2014)

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Note: “The Imitation Game” release date in the U.S. is November 28th, 2014 ~ this review contains no spoilers as the movie is based on historical fact already known.

Do you know who Alan Turing is? I’m going to guess not. After you watch this movie you will most likely be saddened by this fact as I know I was.

Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch) was a master mathematician who finds himself plunged into the secret code-breaking underbelly world of Bletchley Circle in World War II when he’s hired by the British government – along with a team of code breakers – to crack Nazi Germany’s supposedly impenetrable Enigma code and end the war. He makes no friends in his inner circle all throughout his life, but not due to the fact that he doesn’t want them, he is one of those people who are of such true genius they never really learned how to be socially adept. the ig 1

Turing wrestles with a multitude of impediments – shyness, homosexuality (which at the time was illegal) and the overriding pressure of heading up such a mammoth venture would be daunting for anyone trying to stay true to his heart and his extraordinary skill along the way. Not only was Turing unconventional, but his methods were as well. His deterrents included Naval High “Commander Denniston” (Charles Dance) who tries to shut him down more than once, and in the beginning, most of his team, the somewhat caddish “Hugh Alexander”(Matthew Goode), Keira Knightley as “Joan Clarke”, who becomes Turing’s main confidant and for a moment in time, his fiance, the spy amongst them, “John Cairncross” (Allen Leech) and “Peter Hilton” (Matthew Beard) who’s heartbreaking moment occurs when he realizes even though they have broken the code, they most likely can’t save his brother serving on a naval ship due to the nature of the beast that is war and the secret games that must still be played to ensure the safety of millions rather than just one. the ig 3 Mark Strong comes in as MI6 specialist “Stewart Menzies” another small but brilliant turn here as he is probably the only one that has Turing’s back during all this..well him and the man who lives at 10 Downing Street at the time, Winston Churchill that is. 😀 the ig 2 I would also be remiss in not mentioning Rory Kinnear as “Nock” the police detective who is really at the root of Turings out-ing so to speak as he, along with “Sergeant Staehl” (Tom Goodman-Hill) & “Supt. Smith” (Steven Waddington) are the ‘bobbies’ who dig into Turings past after a reported robbery at his home. Even though once Nock interrogates Turing and finds out his whole story, he is reluctant to move forward, the damage has already been done.

the ig 4 The story behind this film is just as harrowing as the one being solved. Here is a man who should have been touted as a worldwide hero in history books everywhere, who’s face should probably be on some type of pound currency, yet we’ve never heard of him as he was persecuted by his own nation for being homosexual and made to either undergo chemical castration or serve 2 years in prison because of this fact. Think of all the people in the city you live in ~ as it might not have existed if not for Alan Turing. Here is a man who saved 14 MILLION lives, yet killed himself due to the fact he was shunned by his own country instead of celebrated just because of who he was sexually. And yes, he was the inventor of what was for years referred to as the ‘Turing Machine’ yes ladies and gentlemen..what we now call ‘computers’. Finally in 2013 this was changed by Queen Elizabeth and rightfully so because it’s the true shame of a nation to deny this man his rightful place in it.
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This film is a tour de force for me, not only because of it’s place in history, but because of the man himself. I believe this powerful film will stay with me for some time to come and I can only hope it does the same for anyone who sees it. It even more elevated by strong performances across the board of not only Cumberbatch, who is definitely in the performance of his career so far, but his strong supporting cast as even Knightly, who usually dismal performances can break up the direction of a film, carries on well. Come Oscar time I’m betting on the fact we will see some nominations here of not only film, but performances as well.

Grade: A

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