Saturday, July 20, 2013

nothing to make much ado about

Last month, Joss Whedon's Much Ado About Nothing finally reached theaters. Of course, it didn't reach any theaters near me ... indy movies never come to Central City, and rarely do they play in Grand Island. But my sisters were as excited about this movie as I was, so we decided to see it in Chicago while Blendy and I were visiting Val in Indiana.

I went into the movie fully expecting to love it and anticipating that I'd want to rush out and buy it the instant it hits DVD. Well, that's not exactly what happened ...

You'd think that, as both a Shakespeare fan and a Whedon fan, I'd love this film. But I ended up feeling rather ambivalent about it. It was fine, but it certainly wasn't anything special. In fact, I was so bored during a few segments that I nearly fell asleep.

I'm all about modern-day adaptations of classic tales, but in this case, I didn't think the update really worked. For one thing, while it was a bit humorous at first to hear Shakespeare's words come out of the mouth of someone who was talking on a cell phone, I soon just found it distracting and even absurd. I didn't really buy Alexis Denisof and Amy Acker in their roles as Benedick and Beatrice—I know they were a beloved pair on Angel (which I never watched), but I didn't really think they had much chemistry. And the film is fairly dark—it doesn't carry the light, happy tone I expected. (When I voiced that last objection to Blendy, she said, "Of course it's dark. It's Whedon!" Which is true ... but it's also a Shakespeare comedy!)

That said, the film did do some things right. The scenes where Beatrice and Benedick hear about the other's supposed love for them were hilarious, full of great physical comedy. I enjoyed Fran Kranz as Claudio (Topher!), Reed Diamond as Don Pedro, and Clark Gregg as Leonato. But the best part, hands down, was Nathan Fillion as Dogberry. He completely knocked it out of the park! When I first heard that was his role, I was disappointed—in the Kenneth Branagh version, I always found Dogberry's scenes downright painful. Michael Keaton's Dogberry was gross, unkempt, and probably insane. Fillion's Dogberry was an idiot, but a hilarious one. (Go here to watch a clip.)

As we watched the film, I couldn't help but compare it to Kenneth Branagh's version, and I ended up concluding that the Branagh version is superior in every way except for the portrayal of Dogberry. I even preferred Keanu Reeves's sneering Don John!

All in all, I'm glad we were able to see the movie, but I don't think it's one I'll be adding to my collection.

Have you ever been disappointed by a movie you'd greatly anticipated?

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