REVIEW: PRIDE & PREJUDICE & ZOMBIES

CAST

Lily James (Cinderella)
Sam Riley (Maleficent)
Jack Huston (American Hustle)
Bella Heathcote (Dark Shadows)
Ellie Bamber (The Falling)
Millie Brady (Legend)
Suki Waterhouse (Insurgent)
Douglas Booth (LOL)
Sally Phillips (Bridget Jone’s Baby)
Charles Dance (Dracula Untold)
Jack Huston (The Longest ride)
Lena Headey (Game of Thrones)
Matt Smith (Terminator Genisys)
Emma Greenwell (Dare To be Wild)
Aisling Loftus (Mr. Selfridge)

In 19th century England, Colonel Darcy (Sam Riley) travels to the home of a wealthy family to investigate rumors of a newly infected zombie. He arrives at the home and sits with the family before taking out a small vial containing carrion flies as a means to detect the undead. When the flies land on the house’s patriarch, Darcy kills him. Assured that no one else could have been infected, he leaves. One of the young girls in the house retreats upstairs to check on the niece of the recently dispatched zombie. She discovers the niece devouring a servant; the niece then proceeds to attack her. The Bennet sisters—Elizabeth (Lily James), Jane (Bella Heathcote), Kitty (Suki Waterhouse), Lydia (Ellie Bamber), and Mary (Millie Brady)—have all been sent to China by their father (Charles Dance) to learn in the art of weaponry and martial arts. Mrs. Bennet (Sally Phillips) wants her daughters to be married off to wealthy suitors. As it turns out, the Bingley family has moved in nearby and are throwing a ball, wherein Mrs. Bennet hopes that the young and handsome Mr. Bingley (Douglas Booth) will win over one of her girls. Elizabeth, on the other hand, doesn’t want to seek a husband.
The Bennets attend the ball. Bingley instantly sets his eyes on Jane. When Elizabeth overhears a disparaging comment about herself from Mr. Darcy, she walks outside tearfully and encounters Mrs. Featherstone (Dolly Wells), now a zombie. Before Mrs. Featherstone can converse with Elizabeth, she is killed by Darcy. A horde of zombies then attack the party, prompting the Bennet sisters to fight them off. Mr. Darcy instantly becomes smitten with Elizabeth when he witnesses her in combat.

The Bingley sisters invite Jane over for tea at Netherfield. Mrs. Bennet forces her to go on horseback, thinking she will be invited to stay overnight due the oncoming rainstorm. While on the ride, Jane encounters a zombie and fires her gun. The gun backfires leaving a bite-like wound on her hand. She kills it but then spots a zombie woman with her child. Jane hesitates and is attacked by the zombie. At Netherfield, Mr. Darcy orders her confined to her room, in fear that she may have been bitten. While in Jane’s room, Mr. Darcy releases his flies to detect a zombie, but Elizabeth catches each fly with her hand and returns them now dead to Mr. Darcy.

The Bennets are visited by Parson Collins (Matt Smith), who intends to marry one of the sisters. He initially sets his eyes on Jane, though he is told that she is with Mr. Bingley. He then tries to seduce Elizabeth, and proposes to her, but states that she must give up her life as a warrior, something that she adamantly refuses to do. Mr. Collins later decides to settle with Elizabeth’s friend Charlotte (Aisling Loftus).

After Jane recovers, the sisters attend another ball thrown by the Bingleys. There, Elizabeth meets a soldier named Wickham (Jack Huston), who seems to be charming and polite. He tells Elizabeth that he has history with Mr. Darcy and does not wish to further challenge him. Another group of zombies attack the party, resulting in Bingley injuring himself, and Mr. Darcy joining Elizabeth in fighting the horde. Elizabeth travels with Mr. Wickham to the In-Between, an area outside of walled-in London but inside a royal moat, to a church filled with zombies, who feed on pig brains to keep themselves from going completely savage. Mr. Wickham wants Elizabeth to join him in helping the zombies. He also suggests that she run away with him, but she remains conflicted. Elizabeth and Mr. Wickham then meet with Mr. Darcy’s aunt, Lady Catherine de Bourgh (Lena Headey), a notorious zombie killer with major authority and wealth, to try and persuade her to come to peace with the more “civilized” zombies. Mr. Darcy and Lady Catherine blatantly refuse. When she arrives home, Elizabeth is told that Mr. Darcy has convinced the Bingleys to move away. When Mr. Darcy approaches Elizabeth with a proposal of his own, she expresses her outrage at his actions and fights him in a duel. Mr. Darcy pins her to the ground, but offended by her accusations and hatred towards him, he lets her go and leaves.
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Mr. Darcy writes Elizabeth a letter to apologize for his actions and to state that he separated Jane and Mr. Bingley for fear that Jane only wanted to marry Mr. Bingley for his wealth, having overheard Mrs. Bennet drunkenly mention it. Mr. Darcy also mentions that Mr. Wickham had tried to elope with Darcy’s fifteen-year-old sister for her fortune. Mr. Darcy’s letter states that he is battling zombies in London, and that they have overrun the walled city. Elizabeth is then cornered by Lady Catherine and her bodyguard Wilhelm (Ryan Oliva). Lady Catherine states Mr. Darcy has been intended to marry her sickly daughter, Anne, from their youth and confronts Elizabeth about rumors over Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy. When Elizabeth denies it, Lady Catherine instigates a fight between Elizabeth and Wilhelm in place of Lady Catherine who Elizabeth has refused to fight. Elizabeth overpowers Wilhelm. Afterwards, Lady Catherine decides to protect Elizabeth’s family from approaching zombies and takes them to her estate. Elizabeth later finds out that Mr. Wickham ran off with her younger sister, Lydia and decides to go rescue her.

Elizabeth joins Mr. Darcy in London and helps him battle the undead. Mr. Darcy encounters Mr. Wickham at the old church and rescues Lydia in the basement. While fighting Mr. Wickham, Mr. Darcy impales him and reveals a bite mark on his chest, revealing Mr. Wickham has been undead all along. When a horde of zombies, who had been living normally until the pig brains they had been eating were switched with human brains by Mr. Darcy storm the cellar, Mr. Darcy escapes with Lydia.

While heading for the last bridge from London, Mr. Darcy and Mr. Wickham fight once more with Wickham gaining the upper hand. Before Mr. Wickham can kill Mr. Darcy, Elizabeth rides in and chops Wickam’s arm off and knocks him unconscious. Mr. Darcy rides with Elizabeth across the bridge as the army destroys the last remaining bridge to keep the zombies trapped within the In-Between on the inside of the moat. Mr. Darcy is injured in the explosion and is rendered unconscious. Elizabeth tearfully admits her love for him. After Mr. Darcy recovers, he finds Elizabeth and they share their first kiss, agreeing to marry. The two have a joint wedding with Mr. Bingley and Jane, officiated by Mr. Collins.

In a mid-credits scene, the now one-armed Mr. Wickham is leading the zombies toward them, ready for war.Despite mixed reviews for this horror/period drama mash-up based on the bestselling novel of the same name, I for one thoroughly enjoyed it. A romp from start to finish, this isn’t what casual cinema-goers who haven’t read the novel might expect – less zombie apocalypse, more Austen pastiche; the movie crackles with the tension between Sam Riley’s Mr Darcy and Lily James’ almost unbearably desirable Elizabeth Bennett. However, it is arguably ex-Doctor Who and real-life paramour of Lily James, Matt Smith, who pretty much steals every scene he is in; his interplay with James, Riley, and the Bennett paterfamilias (a patrician Charles Dance), as well as his typically bonkers manner, are absolutely delightful, and as Mr Collins, the unfortunate gooseberry in the relationship between Elizabeth and pretty much every man she meets, his performance alone makes this worth watching.

 

 

 

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REVIEW: MALEFICENT

CAST

Angelina Jolie (Mr and Mrs Smith)
Elle Fanning (Super 8)
Sharlto Copley (Powers)
Lesley Manville (Vera Drake)
Imelda Staunton (Paddington)
Juno Temple (Horns)
Sam Riley (Control)

Maleficent (Angelina Jolie) is a powerful fairy who lives in the Moors, a magical forest realm bordering a corrupt human kingdom. As a young girl, she meets and falls in love with a human peasant boy named Stefan, whose love for Maleficent is overshadowed by his ambition to become king. As they grow older, the two grow apart, and Maleficent becomes protector of the Moors. When King Henry (Kenneth Cranham) tries to conquer the Moors, a grown Maleficent forces him to retreat. Fatally wounded in battle, he declares that whoever kills Maleficent will be named his successor and marry his only daughter, Princess Leila. Stefan visits Maleficent in the Moors, where he drugs her but cannot bring himself to kill her. Instead, he cuts off her wings and presents them to the king as evidence of her death. Maleficent awakens to find herself wingless. Overwhelmed by Stefan’s betrayal, she declares herself Queen of the Moors, forming a dark kingdom with Diaval (Sam Riley), a raven to whom she gives human form. He acts as her wings, her spy and confidant.

After some time, Diaval informs Maleficent that Stefan (Sharlto Copley), now king, is hosting a christening for his newborn daughter, Princess Aurora, with his wife, Queen Leila (Hannah New). Bent on revenge, Maleficent arrives uninvited and curses the infant princess: on her sixteenth birthday, she will prick her finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel and fall into a deep sleep from which she will never awaken. When Stefan begs for mercy, Maleficent offers an antidote: the curse can only be broken by true love’s kiss. Stefan sends Aurora to live with three pixies – Knotgrass (Imelda Staunton), Thistlewit (Juno Temple), and Flittle (Lesley Manville) – until the day after her sixteenth birthday, while he destroys all the spinning wheels in the kingdom and hides their remnants in the castle dungeon. He sends his armies to find and kill Maleficent, but she surrounds the Moors with an impenetrable wall of thorns. King Stefan slips into madness and paranoia trying to prevent the curse, even neglecting to see his wife on her deathbed.

Despite her initial dislike for Aurora, Maleficent begins to have feelings for the girl. After a brief meeting with the young Aurora, Maleficent watches over her from afar. When Aurora (Elle Fanning) is fifteen, she encounters Maleficent. Knowing that she is being watched over, she refers to Maleficent as her “fairy godmother.” Realizing she has grown fond of the princess, Maleficent attempts to revoke the curse, but is unsuccessful. In the forest, Aurora meets Prince Philip (Brenton Thwaites), and the two are instantly smitten with one another. On the day before Aurora’s sixteenth birthday, Maleficent, invites her to live with her in the Moors. The pixies inadvertently tell Aurora of her past and reveal Maleficent’s true identity, and a distraught Aurora runs away to her father’s castle.

After a brief reunion with his daughter, Stefan locks her away in her room for her own safety. However, the power of the curse draws Aurora to the dungeon, where remnants of a spinning wheel pricks her finger. She falls into a deep sleep, fulfilling the curse. Maleficent, intent on saving her, abducts Phillip and infiltrates Stefan’s castle, but Phillip’s kiss fails to awaken Aurora. At her bedside, Maleficent apologizes to Aurora and kisses her forehead. Aurora awakens, as the motherly tenderness proves powerful enough to break the spell. Aurora forgives Maleficent, but as they attempt to leave the castle, Stefan and his guards spring an ambush, trapping Maleficent in an iron net. As her attackers close in, Maleficent transforms Diaval into a dragon freeing her, but they are driven back by the guards. Stefan beats and taunts Maleficent, but before he can deliver a killing blow, her wings are freed by Aurora and fly back to Maleficent reattaching themselves. Fully empowered, Maleficent carries Stefan to the top of the castle’s highest tower. At the precipice, she cannot bring herself to kill him. Stefan attempts to kill her, however, and both plummet from the tower. Maleficent is able to break away, and Stefan falls to his death. Soon after, Princess Aurora is crowned Queen by Maleficent, unifying the two kingdoms in peace.

Maleficent is the perfect blend of excitement and fairy tale.