When you think of Joss Whedon, you likely go to 'Firefly,' 'Buffy The Vampire Slayer,' or maybe even 'The Avengers.' Few would make the leap to mentioning the work of William Shakespeare in the same breath, but the release of 'Much Ado About Nothing' will, likely, have you reconsidering.
Claudio (Fran Kranz) and Benedick (Alexis Denisof) are travelers who return to their hometown of Messina. Claudio instantly falls in love with Hero (Jillian Morgese) the daughter of the governor they are visiting, Leonato (Clark Gregg). Benedick is skeptical about love, even after a brief fling with Hero’s cousin, Beatrice (Amy Acker) some time ago.
Outside forces seek to sabotage Claudio’s sudden wedding through a series of rumors for their own dastardly reasons while other characters undergo some changes. Comedy ensues. Love may or may not prevail.
Whedon uses the exact dialog from the play, so the language is preserved and transplanted into the present day. Another quirk is that the entire thing was filmed on his property. All of this works a bit better than you would expect. The modern, real, setting gives a clear context for much of the plot and offers a different experience than watching actors wearing silly costumes on a stage. Whether you like it more or less is entirely subjective, but the Shakespearean language translates relatively well under the facade of a standard romantic comedy.
Speaking of comedy, it can be easy to shrug off much of Shakespeare's comedy as simplistic concepts of women dressed as men (and vice versa)/mistaken identity, all's well that ends well fluff that doesn't always translate as well off of the stage. There are some sight gags/and laughs that don't tread upon the Bard's written word but also elevate the fun for those who are less devoted to quick-witted banter. A bit of romance in here will also appeal to many.
Whedon fanatics will recognize most of the cast from his previous projects. He isn't exactly a central character and mostly exists for comic relief, but Nathan Fillion's Dogberry steals every scene he is in.
Special features include: making the film, a look at the bus trip for the film's premiere in Austin Texas, and a music video.
It would be silly to say that all Joss Whedon fans should rush out to see them. A huge number of them would be disappointed and not amused. The familiar faces from his universe and the humor might be just enough to get a few from off of the fence.
Rated PG-13 109 minutes 2013