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PAPAZ

D: Burr Steers / 102m

Cast: Lily James, Sam Riley, Matt Smith, Jack Huston, Bella Heathcote, Douglas Booth, Lena Headey, Sally Phillips, Charles Dance, Ellie Bamber, Millie Brady, Suki Waterhouse

From the 1814 Alternate Universe Almanac, 21 January:

Revealed to a waiting world with all the fanfare that the firm of Butan, McKittrick, Oliver, Portman, Savitch, Shearmur & Thompson can muster, these kindly souls have enjoined us to a world that has no equal or predecessor in the annals of the flickering image. Miss Jane Austen’s latest novel, published to great acclaim last year, has been fashioned into a drab, humourless affair that strains the credulity of every right-thinking person in  the land, and which purports to imagine an England overrun by an army of the dead.

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Preposterous you may say, and this author would heartily agree with you. Concocted with a clear disdain for the exquisite talent of Miss Austen, Mr. Burr Steers and Mr. Seth Grahame-Smith – both Americans, no doubt – have taken her sterling work and made a mockery of its literary merits by inserting strange creatures that resemble vampires, but with the exception that they seek flesh to eat rather than blood to drink. It is not uncommon to find examples of this kind of unabashed traducery made as low entertainment for the masses, but it is for the more discerning viewer of these “tragedies” to be of one voice with his equally appalled brethren and shout loudly, “No more! No more repellent travesties created to provide succour for the poor in spirit and the easily tempted! No more!”

A crueller distraction could no more be found than Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. The subtlety of Miss Austen’s prose is retained for the most part, but be not gladdened by this admission, for it is used in such a paltry way that readers familiar with Miss Austen’s work will be distraught at the way in which emphasis is abandoned in favour of recitation, and her characters speak as if they had not the wit to understand their own utterances. It is a folly to assume that Mr. Steers and Mr. Grahame-Smith have generated this debacle with any concern for the respect Miss Austen’s work has accrued since her debut some two years ago. While it can be said that the settings they have chosen give some degree of pleasure to the eye, as do the ladies chosen to portray the Bennet sisters, it is nevertheless an endeavour that lacks finesse, and proves of little consequence once experienced from beginning to end.

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Be warned: the inclusion of “zombies” marks a low point in our nation’s proud literary and (short-lived) zoetropic history. What possible good can come of this exhibition’s existence it’s doubtful anyone will be able to determine, and this august periodical can see no reason for its existence beyond a scurrilous and repugnant attempt to separate the hoi polloi from what little earnings they make – earnings that would no doubt be put to better use in the purchase of potatoes for the nurturing of their families. For make no mistake, here is no nurturing of the mind or the finer senses to be gained from viewing Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. It is an ill-conceived distraction, filled with moments that are both violent and reprehensible, and which paint such a dismal alternative to the beauteous world we live in that one must question the motives of the men and women who have found this a suitable piece to put before the public.

There can be no doubt that the assembly called upon to inhabit the various roles Miss Austen went to great pains to construct – and with such great artistry – have little to offer in terms of imagination or grace. Special mention must go to the esteemed Mr. Dance, an actor of such renown that his presence here is difficult to fathom, surrounded as he is by artists who lack the graces God gave them to fully articulate the feelings and emotions that occupy our hearts and minds on each and every blessed day of our existence. That Miss Austen wrote of romantic involvement with such subtlety and perspicacity appears to have been put aside in favour of feeble declarations of ardour, declarations that carry the barest weight of conviction.

In conclusion, the efforts of Mr. Steers and Mr. Grahame-Smith have proved to be of such a disservice to those of us who champion the potential of the zoetropic arts that we would be forever indebted to them if they refrained from making any further assaults on our senses. Let us say again: “No more!”

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Rating: 3/10 – a dire movie that plods along in search of a reason to exist (like its titular creatures perhaps), Pride and Prejudice and Zombies sounds like a great twist on an old classic, but in truth is uncomfortable to watch as a period piece, and as a horror movie; when the zombies have more personality – and evoke more sympathy – than your main characters, then you have a movie that’s in trouble in more ways than one, and this movie courts trouble like an aging Lothario looking to impress one young woman too many.

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