Much Ado About Nothing (2012) 12A
A bit of a palette cleanser after the monstrous production of Marvel's Avengers Assemble, director Joss Whedon turned his attention to an adaptation just about as different from his superhero ensemble as you can get. Shot in black and white over twelve days in his own home, here Whedon gets together a bevy of former collaborators and recognisable "him/her from that thing" faces to adapt Shakespeare's most famous rom-com.
Revolving around two parallel love-stories, one a full on head over heels sort, the other a love-disguised-as-hate sort, there certainly is a lot to keep on top of. When Governor Leonator (Clark Gregg) gets visited by Don Pedro (Reed Diamond), his two friends - Claudio (Fran Kranz) and Benedick (Alexis Denisof) - fall in love with two of the governor's family members; his daughter Hero (Jillian Morgese) and niece Beatrice (Amy Acker) respectively. This being Shakespeare, marriage is spoken of within minutes, but bad guy Don John (Sean Maher) has evil intentions for the happy couple(s).
There are even more supporting characters - played by the likes of Nathan Fillion, Spencer Treat Clark, Ashley Johnson and a load more - and their own individual subplots to take into account, so at times it can feel a little overwhelming to keep track of everything and everyone. There's also a slight lethargy to some of the scenes which almost demanded a more energetic approach for them to hit home properly.
Aside from this, Much Ado is still one of the better and funnier Shakespeare adaptations to date. Whedon is a master when it comes to writing his own dialogue, and he deserves recognition for not only "modernizing" the language, but also wringing the most emotion - be it positive or negative - from Shakespeare's words. At times Much Ado is properly hilarious, be it due to a perfectly timed zinger or the fantastic physical comedy that the actors pull off, but also finds new dark corners to the otherwise joyful love story.
This is definitely not going to be for everyone - this is not Joss Whedon's Easy A - but for those looking for something a bit more cultural in the sea of summer blockbusters, then this is for you.
Story by Rory Cashin | 09:48 | Wednesday 2nd October 2013 | DVD review