Much Ado About Nothing Movie Review
The Avengers just wasn't big enough for him. Complaining about limited budget and scope, director Joss Whedon set out to make a true epic: a black-and-white adaptation of William Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing, filmed with a bunch of friends at his house while on vacation. The result? A decent endeavor that proves what a few days filming can do, and that modern-day Shakespeare adaptations don't offer a whole lot.
Whedon's Much Ado About Nothing plays out exactly as you'd expect, in that it's a romantic comedy about two sets of lovers - one pair who are desperately in love with one another, another desperate to prove to themselves and the world that they are not. Amy Acker and Alexis Denisof play Beatrice and Benedick, while Fran Kranz and Jillian Morgese star as Claudio and Hero. Clark Gregg and Nathan Fillion also have parts.
I've never been a huge Shakespeare fan, or at least not someone who is going to rave about a Shakespeare adaptation simply because he's the greatest scriptwriter of all time, blah blah blah. Adaptations set in modern day are especially tough, because the prose just doesn't work in modern-day settings. Some critics may say otherwise, but they are wrong.
Despite its natural limitations, Whedon makes the most out of a little. The movie is whimsical and harmless, and will appease people who don't care whether the story is set in the 16th century or the 27th. The film looks fine and the actors give it their best. It's impressive he filmed the entire story in 12 days, in his own house.
The movie gets better as it goes along, primarily because it took me a while to clue into what was happening (the dialogue takes some getting used to) and also because it takes Whedon a while to find his rhythm. He loosens up as time progresses, inserting more physical comedy in the second act and in turn some much needed energy.
Still, Whedon's Much Ado About Nothing can't escape the fact that it is a modern-day Shakespeare adaptation, and modern-day Shakespeare adaptations can only be so good. There will be a vocal minority who disagree with me, but it's hard to rave about this movie in the way others have. Much Ado About Nothing is fine, but it doesn't elicit strong emotions one way or the other. That's not a good thing.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.