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

#peggyatthemovies ~ “REVIEW OF “MALEFICENT”

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As far as fantasy movies go, I gotta say I pretty much liked this one minus of course, one or two little things..”Maleficent” is basically the modern day ‘prequel’ of the age old fairy tale ~ ‘Sleeping Beauty’  The villainess (or is she??) “Maleficent” played well by the beautiful Angelina Jolie, who lived a wonderful happy life as a fairy child with wings in a beautiful land where nothing bad ever happened.. Until…of course it does.  She faces the ultimate betrayal as a young woman, by “Stefan” (Sharlto Copely) who not only breaks her heart, but steals from her the one thing that makes her who she is, all in the name of greed and to obtain power and control over kingdom and win the princess.  Which he succeeds at, but of course there is a price to pay hence the story of ‘Sleeping Beauty’ The King & Queen have a beautiful child together,” Aurora” (Elle Fanning), and “Maleficent” being whom she is now, a bitter fairy with unbridled powers, puts a curse on the newborn child that on her 16th birthday she will prick her finger on a wooden spindle and fall into a coma and only can be awakened by ‘true love’, which of course she no longer believes exists. 

The plot thickens as the years go by as it seems that “Maleficent” has a heart after all as she spies on the child who is growing up over the years in the care of 3 bizarre & irresponsible fairy’s, and realizes that the key to peace and possibly her own personal happiness, is after all, “Aurora”. She tries to break the spell which is now unbreakable..During all this time, the now “King Stefan” has made it his mission to destroy “Maleficent” and ensure his daughters safety.  Throughout these years “Maleficent” is accompanied by her ‘wings’ “Diaval” played by Sam Riley, who is so under-utilized here as an actor.  If you want to see what this guy is truly capable of, I suggest you watch “Brighton Rock”, “On the Road” or his stunning portrayal of Ian Curtis of Joy Division fame in “Control” and you will see what I am talking about.

Angelina Jolie is as good as you can be in bringing an animated character to life, and though most of the second act of this movie goes off half-baked somewhat with plot points that go nowhere and sorely lags a bit, but have no fear as it does pick up again in the finale portion of the movie. Still, it’s quite predictable in what the ending will be. The imagery of the fantasy land they live in is truly beautiful and stunning at times..it was probably my favourite thing of the whole movie.  Noteworthy ~ in a small but sweet part is Brenton Thwaites as “Prince Phillip”, I predict we will see much more to come of this young cutie pie, yes I just said cutie pie..:D  

Grade: C+

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