Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Movie #447: Much Ado About Nothing

Much Ado About Nothing is a movie based on the play by will.i.am Shakespeare, directed by Joss Whedon, and stars Amy Acker, Alexis Denisof, Clark Gregg, Sean Maher, Reed Diamond, Nathan Fillion, Fran Kranz, Jillian Morgese, Spencer Treat Clark, and Riki Lindhome.

So, it's the play with some minor edits, but in case you don't know: Leonato (Gregg) is a politician welcoming Don Pedro, the prince (Diamond) back from war, along with young Claudio (Kranz) and the witty and bitter Benedick (Denisof). Claudio is in love with Leonato's daughter Hero (Morgese), and Benedick has feelings for her cousin Beatrice (Acker), though both Beatrice and Benedick are vocal in their criticism of love and marriage. Meanwhile, Don Juan (Maher), the prince's bastard brother, is just here to make trouble.

So Claudio is set to marry Hero while everyone sets up Benedick and Beatrice, which totally works, but then Don Juan's cronies (Lindhome and Clark) make it seem like Hero was totally getting it on with some guy the night before her wedding, and that makes everyone go nuts, but then the city watch captures the aforementioned cronies while they're confessing their crimes out loud (like you do), Claudio marries Hero, Benedick marries Beatrice, Don Juan flees the country but is caught, there's dancing, all is well.

I have to say, I give Whedon some shit for some of the more problematic stuff he's done, but it's hard to hate him because he does really quality work when he doesn't get too far up his own ass. Watching Shakespeare in an intimate setting (this was filmed in Whedon's house, basically because he needed to decompress after The Avengers) performed by skilled actors is awesome enough, but the movie is filmed in black-and-white, giving a weird comedy/noir sensibility to it all.

Acker and Denisof are standouts, as is Diamond (took me half the movie to remember that he played Daniel Whitehall in Agents of SHIELD) but really everyone in the movie is on their game. Watching the behind-the-scenes footage, it's clear that everyone did this as a labor of love, which might be why it turned out so well.

My Grade: A
Rewatch value: Medium

Next up: Multiplicity