8 items from 2016
Austen and the undead fail to raise laughs or shocks in a misfiring mashup
A damp-squib reception for Timur Bekmambetov’s Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter in 2012 seemed at one point to have driven a stake through the heart of this long-gestating project. Now it finally arrives, helmed by Igby Goes Down director Burr Steers, who also wrote the screenplay from Al:vh author Seth Grahame-Smith’s 2009 bestseller. Sadly, Steers has solved few of the problems that have long made this mashup movie such a tricky balancing act. The 19th-century narrative imagines Britain as a walking graveyard and gives us combat-trained Bennet sisters with daggers in their garters who must navigate the treacherous waters of marriage proposals and costume balls while dispatching walking (and, irksomely, talking) corpses. Cinderella-star Lily James is well cast as the spirited Elizabeth, Sam Riley brings a touch of dourness to the role of Mr Darcy, Sally Phillips »
- Mark Kermode, Observer film critic
Hollywood fumbled the ball during a quiet Super Bowl weekend at the multiplexes as new releases such as “Hail, Caesar!” and “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” failed to make much noise.
For the second weekend in a row, DreamWorks Animation’s “Kung Fu Panda 3” easily topped box office charts. The animated sequel added $21 million to its $69 million domestic haul. The film is playing particularly well in China, where it is being distributed by Oriental DreamWorks, a $330-million East-West joint venture. It crossed the $100 million mark in the People’s Republic this weekend after opening day-and-date in the U.S. and China on Jan. 29.
Universal’s “Hail, Caesar!,” a sendup of the Hollywood studio system from the Coen brothers, fared best among the new entrants, though that’s grading on a generous curve. It picked up a mediocre $11.4 million for a second place finish. A C-minus CinemaScore could spell trouble for the film’s long-term prospects, »
- Brent Lang
Zombie films are second only to slashers when it comes to the sheer volume of horror titles released each year, but as popular as they are very few of them seem to make it into theaters. The handful that avoid the direct-to-dvd fate typically feature something extra in the form of a big star (World War Z), a genre lean towards comedy (Zombieland), or an existing franchise (Resident Evil: Retribution). Pride and Prejudice and Zombies checks off one of those boxes — possibly even two if you consider the literary works of Jane Austen to be something of a highbrow franchise. Elizabeth Bennet (Lily James, Downton Abbey) and her four sisters are proper young Victorian ladies trained in both the fine arts and the martial arts — the better to charm the living and decapitate the living dead — and while their father (Charles Dance) is focused on teaching them survival skills their mom’s (Sally Phillips) primary concern is »
- Rob Hunter
As a concept, “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies" is the sort of absurd brainstorm that won't just sit on the page. The phrase almost giggles for you; we were doomed to experience it the moment it became a repeatable thought. The 2009 novel by Seth Grahame-Smith reworks Jane Austen's 1813 novel just enough to amplify the heroic qualities of a few characters into modernity, with some social conflicts replaced with zombie battles. And ninjas. The book also has a bunch of ninjas. The ninjas didn't end up in this film, but the movie directed by Burr Steers ("Charlie St. Cloud," "Igby Goes Down") keeps much of the rest of the span of Grahame-Smith's revamp, with Lily James delivering a muscular and effective star performance as Elizabeth Bennet. "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies" is not a particularly good zombie movie, and it is never an inventive one. Nor is it much of a comedy, »
- Russ Fischer
George Clooney, Nicholas Sparks and some zombie hordes will take the field against the Denver Broncos and the Carolina Panthers, as a few brave movies try to hold off Super Bowl mania in what is shaping up to be a quiet weekend at the multiplexes.
The hope for “Hail Caesar!,” “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” and “The Choice” is that the three new releases can make enough money on Friday and Saturday to tide them over through Sunday when millions of Americans will be glued to the big game. Football’s starriest weekend is traditionally a fallow period for movie-going — 2008’s “Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert Tour” holds the record for a Super Bowl gross with $31.1 million, with last year’s “American Sniper” slightly behind that result with $30.6 million.
None of the trio of newcomers will come close to matching those figures. Barring an upset, »
- Brent Lang
More a concept than an actual novel, the 2009 best-seller “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” is merely the Jane Austen classic (which is in the public domain) with some brief zombie inserts by the writer Seth Grahame-Smith, best known for turning Abraham Lincoln into a vampire hunter. It’s just a silly title and a dumb passing idea, and now it is a movie written and directed by Burr Steers. Steers, a descendant of Aaron Burr and nephew of Gore Vidal, previously wrote and directed the literate “Igby Goes Down” before giving the world two Zac Efron vehicles, “17 Again” and »
- Dan Callahan
Before he moved behind the camera to make movies like Igby Goes Down and the upcoming Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Burr Steers was actually an actor in Hollywood. and there.s a very good chance you vividly remember one of his scenes. In Quentin Tarantino.s Pulp Fiction, he played .Flock Of Seagulls,. a.k.a. the guy on the couch who gets shot and killed while Samuel L. Jackson.s Jules interrogates Frank Whaley Brett about the mysterious briefcase. This is one of the most iconic scenes of the film, and as a result modern cinema, however, there is one thing you may not know about it: Steers repeatedly messed up takes due to his animated reactions to the sequences. gunshots. I recently attended a press day for Pride and Prejudice and Zombies in Los Angeles, and after a long one-on-one conversation with Burr Steers about his new »
If you were one of the five people who enjoyed the genre mashup "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter," then "Pride And Prejudice And Zombies" is probably right up your alley. After all, it's based on another book by 'Vampire Hunter' author Seth Grahame-Smith and is exactly what it sounds like: Jane Austen's beloved book populated with the undead. And while we'll have to forever dream of what David O. Russell would've done with the material (he was fleetingly attached to write and direct), Burr Steers ("17 Again," "Igby Goes Down") is now at the helm. Read More: The 100 Most Anticipated Films Of 2016 Starring Lily James, Sam Riley, Jack Huston, Bella Heathcote, Douglas Booth, Matt Smith, Charles Dance and Lena Headey, the movie promises all the gowns and period detail you'd expect from Austen's story, but twisted into something much weirder and more gnarly. Check out the two new clips below to »
- Kevin Jagernauth
8 items from 2016
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