This review will contain spoilers. I mean really – it’s got “Pride & Prejudice” in the title. At this point, if you don’t know the premise… I don’t think I can help you that much. So I am, in this case, not going to worry about spoilers.
Overall, (TL;DR) I was incredibly disappointed. The screenplay was not so much adapted as ‘I stole the name’ and the characters were not as strongly represented as possible. Someone in the movie’s leadership decided it should be a zombie movie with a romance tale in it. The book managed to maintain a romance which just happened to have zombies in it. It makes a difference.
I try to give some grace to screenwriters who are adapting a book to film. I really do try to forgive when they need to cut out beloved characters, combine some “bit parts” into a single role to make it less confusing, or adjust scenes/elements of plot to fit a book into the time length allowed in film. I mean, it’s possible to make a 9-hour film, but not many people will sit that long in a theater. All this to explain that I think this film was a tragedy of an adaptation.
Rule number 1 I think anyone in Hollywood needs to be told if they are adapting a book: keep the book’s plot!
If you want to switch the plot, maybe you shouldn’t buy the rights to the book and get far enough away from the book that you don’t need it. IF you want to use the name of the book – stick to the book. It was popular for a reason (I assume you are making the book into a movie because the book was successful). Don’t try to play with the plot more than you need to for the film-length.
The writers did that in PPZ. They messed with the plot. It’s not like they needed to. They are already adding zombies to the classic tale. They don’t need anymore twists. Seth Grahame-Smith already added all the twist you needed! The screenwriter added the apocolypse – like four horsemen and anti-christ and everything. Because you know, zombies weren’t enough? So about halfway through the film, they basically threw out the “Pride & Prejudice” plot line and tacked in this concept of there being something WAAAY more sinister. It felt incredibly forced and the entire tale ended up seeming very rushed. Everything moved over the course of days and hours instead of weeks or months.
Then there is Mr. Darcy. Who they started to do a “Colonel” thing with and then they just let that drop/disappear. And although I think the actor was decent – wardrobe failed him. He wore this leather-y thing. That you could hear the leather squeak whenever he moved. It was like a black shiny pleather disaster. And his hair.
Dear god… he’s supposed to be this impeccable gentleman who is handsome and put together and drool-worthy. Most of the time his hair looked like he just got out of the shower and he hasn’t had a haircut in two years. And it’s only made worse because he is clean-shaven. Maybe if they had just gone for the rough-and-rugged look (you know, Han Solo style) he could have pulled it off. Instead, he looked super young and just… off the character. It was very disconcerting – especially in contrast with the neat and tidy Mr. Bingley and the amazing Lady Catherine’s truly impeccable appearance (albeit she was way too young. Beautiful and well acted… but no way had a sixteen year old daughter unless she had that kid at like 12).
I’m not going to go into depth here, but even on my first viewing there were some camera/shot choices that I thought were not strong. Framing or camera motion (either stay still or rotate, don’t stop-and-start). I feel like the director (?) doesn’t know how to make a romance film.
My one positive is Matt Smith. When I heard he was going to play Mr. Collins I thought “noooo! not the Doctor!” – but he made a fabulous Mr. Collins. Really put his own fingerprints on the role – and managed to be hilarious and smarmy at the same time. Shocker, he knew how to act! (/sarcasm)
There was so much potential here – and I was really looking forward to this movie. There were options for what they could have cut. They could have done some unique twists that haven’t been done before because it didn’t need to take itself as the “serious romance” of Pride & Prejudice. Instead, it just floundered by trying to put the P&P trappings around a zombie movie.