Pride and Perfection
What do you think you're going to get from a film titled Pride & Prejudice & Zombies?You'll get exactly what you expect, a surprisingly successful combination the Jane Austen classic and zombies or, as the characters in the film refer to them, the unmentionables. In fact the story stays so close to Austen's original text that if you cut out the zombies and filmed a few more scenes, you'd actually have a very faithful and rather good straight film adaptation. Based upon the mash-up novel of the same name, the film adaptation of 'Pride & Prejudice & Zombies' works very well, primarily because the cast, with the notable exception of Matt Smith, play it straight. The film also retains a consistent narrative logic, not just in terms of following the plot of 'Pride & Prejudice' but also in terms of the rules relating to its zombies and the alternative history that the story creates.An excellent cast ensures that the film adaptation is both exciting and believable, with Lily James as the strong-willed Elizabeth Bennet and Sam Riley as the gruff Mr. Darcy. There is great support from Bella Heathcote, Douglas Booth and Jack Huston, whilst Matt Smith's Parson Collins nearly steals the film in a fine comic turn. Charles Dance, Sally Philips and Lena Headey are on had to add some extra gravitas and Burr Steers delivers some solid direction. The zombies act as a backdrop to the film's central love story, which is partly why it's so successful and the film remains true to its central characters. Beautifully shot and with some genuine scares, Pride & Prejudice & Zombies is that rare film that does exactly what it sets out to do but also manages to do it with great style.
Picture QualityPride & Prejudice & Zombies was filmed digitally using the Arri Alexa XT Plus at a resolution of 3.4K but it was finished using a 2K Digital Intermediate (DI). This 2K DI presumably formed the basis for the Ultra HD Blu-ray release and was then upscaled by Sony Pictures to 4K. The film is presented using a 3840 x 2160p transfer in the film's correct 2.40:1 aspect ratio, the disc uses 10-bit video depth, a Wider Colour Gamut (WCG) and High Dynamic Range (HDR), and is encoded using the HEVC (H.265) codec. We reviewed the region free US Ultra HD Blu-ray release of Pride & Prejudice & Zombies on a Samsung UE65KS9500 Ultra HD 4K TV with a Samsung UBD-K8500 Ultra HD Blu-ray player, although the film has yet to be released on the format in the UK.
The Ultra HD Blu-ray perfectly renders the cinematography, costumes and production design
Pride & Prejudice & Zombies may have been finished at a resolution of 2K but the image on the Ultra HD Blu-ray is absolutely gorgeous. The levels of detail are excellent, although in a direct comparison with the regular Blu-ray the differences are minimal. However the image reveals the smallest of facial details, whilst the clothing, hair and props are all beautifully rendered. The 10-bit video and wider colour gamut also help, resulting in a transfer that is free of banding, whilst colours appear more saturated and realistic. Lt. Wickham's red tunic and the lush greens and browns of the English countryside both being beautifully realised. Flesh tones also look natural, except in the case of the ‘unmentionables’ who look suitably decayed.
The image might not have much more actual detail compared to the already excellent Blu-ray but the adoption of HDR adds significantly more definition to the image. Whether it’s the green foliage of the woods and forests or the brick and stone of the buildings the picture retains a wonderful degree of clarity. The specular highlights are effective, drawing attention to the glint of light on the swords or the details in the flames of the massive explosion towards the end. The blacks are are deep but the image retains shadow detail and the increased dynamic range adds greater impact to the visuals. All-in-all this is an excellent picture that takes full advantage off the new format to enhance your viewing experience.
Sound QualityPride & Prejudice & Zombies was originally released theatrically with a Dolby Digital 5.1-channel mixes and it's these that form the basis of the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1-channel soundtrack found on the regular Blu-ray. However for the Ultra HD Blu-ray, Sony Pictures appear to have commissioned a new Dolby Atmos immersive audio mix, which we reviewed using a Denon AVR-X7200WA and a full 7.2.4-channel setup with actual overhead speakers.
Any concerns the soundtrack might be gentle and demure are exploded almost immediately
Pride & Prejudice & Zombies has a fantastic Dolby Atmos mix and anyone thinking that despite the presence of zombies the film's 19th century setting might result in a genteel or subdued soundtrack would be very wrong. Almost from the start the soundtrack is a sonic assault on the senses, with a highly active surround field and massive amounts of bass energy that really immerses the listener. This has one of the most aggressive LFE tracks we've heard in some time and the use of dynamic range and lower frequencies energy really adds impact to the shock moments and zombie attacks.
The additional freedom offered by an object-based mix means that effects can be moved more precisely around the sound field and the overhead channels allow for a greater sense of environment, especially in the large indoor spaces of the various stately homes. The sound designers also use the overhead channels very effectively when it comes to rain and thunder, creating a marvellous sense of envelopment. The use of the surround channels is often quite subtle but very effective, such as the sounds of flies buzzing around the undead. The score is nicely mixed across the front soundstage and even further into the mix when necessary and dialogue always remains clear and centred. Overall this is a superb Dolby Atmos soundtrack and something of a pleasant surprise, much like the film itself.
ExtrasThe US Ultra HD Blu-ray release of Pride & Prejudice & Zombies comes in a black Amaray case with two discs, the Ultra HD Blu-ray and the Full HD Blu-ray. The Ultra HD Blu-ray doesn't use regional coding and neither does the regular Blu-ray. The package also includes a digital HD copy of the film, although you probably won't be able to redeem the code in this country.
All the extras are in HD and included on the regular Blu-ray:
Gag Reel (01:38) – The usual collection of fluffed lines, faulty props, uncontrollable laughing and larking about on set.
Deleted Scenes (09:55) – A collection of nine scenes that don't really add much and were quite rightly trimmed for pacing. The scenes are Girls Get Ready (00:40), The Netherfield Dance (01:59), Caroline Bingley Showdown (01:28),Corinthians (00:22), Collins Gets Ready (00:54), Mr. Darcy's Letter (00:23), Pemberley (02:51) and Liz And Darcy Meet (01:20).
The Badass Bennet Sisters (03:59) – A brief featurette about the actresses playing the Bennet sisters and their various action scenes.
Courtship, Class and Carnage: Meet the Cast (06:54) – A short featurette about the entire cast with plenty of lovey back-slapping.
From Austen to Zombies: Adapting a Classic (06:00) – How the source novel and film merged Jane Austen's original novel with a zombie sub-plot.
Creating the Unmentionables (03:31) – A brief featurette that takes a look at the make-up effects used to create the 19th century zombies.
Mr. Collins Line-O-Rama (02:38) – Numerous and equally funny alternate takes of Matt Smith as Parson Collins.
Ultra HD Blu-ray VerdictPride & Prejudice & Zombies is one those films that does exactly what the title suggests, delivering an enjoyable story that combines Jane Austen’s literary classic with the titular zombies. The film is effectively adapted from the source material, retaining the spirit of Austen’s novel and introducing an alternative history that stays true to its own internal logic. The cast play it commendably straight, aside from an hysterical comic turn from Matt Smith, and the photography, production design, costumes and effects are all first class. Whilst the title might initially put some people off, the film is actually an undiscovered gem that is well worth checking out.
A great film and perfect picture and sound combine to make this a fantastic Ultra HD Blu-ray
If you do decide to watch Pride & Prejudice & Zombies, the Ultra HD Blu-ray is definitely the best way to do it. The picture, sourced from a 2K digital intermediate, takes full advantage of the new format to offer plenty of detail, lovely colours and greater impact as a result of the HDR grading. The Dolby Atmos soundtrack compliments the fantastic picture perfectly, with a surprisingly aggressive mix that includes a staggering amount of bass. Those Bennet girls know how to kick ass and the soundtrack makes sure you feel it. A nice if somewhat perfunctory selection of extras round out an excellent Ultra HD Blu-ray release from Sony Pictures.
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