As a Joss Whedon superfan, I felt obligated to see Much Ado About Nothing even though I couldn’t care less about Shakespeare. I never read the play nor have I seen any other adaptions including the 1993 film with Keanu Reeves. I went in with an open mind with next to no knowledge of the story. That’s why I was generally surprised to find a pretty enjoyable film that Shakespeare fans should definitely check out. But if you’re like me and just there for Joss Whedon, you’ll find his great visual humor but it’s not really worth a trip to the theater.
“Much Ado About Nothing” is a straight adaption of Shakespeare’s play (confusing dialogue and all). Shortly after arriving home with his friend Benedick (Alexis Denisof), Cluadio (Fran Kranz) declares his love for a woman named Hero (Jillian Morgese) who is the daughter of Leonato (Clark Gregg), a powerful government authority. Meanwhile, Benedick has playful debates with Beatrice (Amy Acker), Leonato’s niece, which then starts to form into a bizarre romance. “Much Ado About Nothing” follows these two relationships through many twists and turns.
If you’re a fan of Joss Whedon’s work, you’re probably turned off by that plot synopsis. But Shakespeare crafted a very solid story through these two relationships. Quite a few aspects might seem pretty goofy and nonsensical by today’s standards but those aspects make the film all the more entertaining.
Besides some minor tweaks from the original text (I read the SparkNotes after seeing the film to see if anything was changed), Joss Whedon’s screenplay is more or less Shakespeare’s words. The confusing dialogue is all there meaning you’ll have to pay close attention to the film if you’re not already familiar with the source material. It might be a turn off for some but I personally found it fun trying to figure out what the hell was going on. It almost felt like a game.
That game was made easier due to Joss’s phenomenal direction. The actions in the film are wonderfully “documented” making the events on screen a lot easier to take in. The black and white in the film was beautiful and the environments were spectacular. Joss Whedon’s great score is calmly placed in the background fitting the tone of the film but really reaches its full potential when it takes center stage.
The performances in the film are all solid. Clark Gregg, Amy Acker, Alexis Denisof, and the rest of the cast all did a great job. They conveyed the dialogue flawlessly but they all stood out through their actions and facial expressions. Most of the entertainment I got from the film was seeing these actors go so over the top during some of their scenes and act so goofy which fit the film unbelievably well.
Much Ado About Nothing isn’t perfect though with my biggest gripe coming from the “modern day” aspect of the film. Much Ado takes place in 2013 or at least the 21st century. Desktop computers running Windows 8 and a smartphone are all seen in the film but they are so barely used that it took me out of the experience when they came on screen. The dialogue and overall story obviously fits an older time so seeing the modern day technology in those few scenes took me out of the film.
Aside from the unnecessary “modern day” aspect of the film, Much Ado About Nothing is a great adaption of the play. The Shakespeare dialogue is a little tough to follow sometimes but Joss Whedon’s direction helps you comprehend it. Great performances, gorgeous images, and a nicely placed score make Much Ado About Nothing one of the better Shakespeare adaptions out there. Just don’t go in expecting another Joss Whedon classic.
For reviews and more from me, Petey Oneto, you can check out my blog but be sure to check back with Resident Entertainment for more of my posts in the future.