Much Ado About Nothing - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Much Ado About Nothing Reviews

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Super Reviewer
March 28, 2013
If you dislike Shakespeare or are unfamiliar with the story then stay away from this film.
Super Reviewer
½ November 24, 2013
I'm no Shakespeare aficionado. Save for high school reading and the stellar works of Kenneth Branagh, my exposure has been limited do to my finding a lot of the Bard's work unintelligible. But that didn't stop me from really enjoying "Much Ado About Nothing" and Joss Whedon's fresh, revisionist take. I've always found Shakespeare more palatable on the screen than page... so Whedon's light tone, snappy, jazzy rhythms and all around accessibility was right up my alley. The movie is also really funny. The cast (mainly Whedon regulars) was uniformly great, and at least half of the film's fun comes from them trying to deliver such lines in a not so theatrical way, while inhabiting such an idiosyncratic setting. The contemporary backdrop (Whedon's real home) really works here, and never distracts. It's actually why this "Much Ado" is so entertaining and so damn charming. Make no mistake, this is a minor film; and one that will leave viewers seeking out the next movie from the guy who directed The Avengers baffled. But it is also a fine entertainment and an adaptation for people who don't like Shakespeare and his enthusiasts alike.
Super Reviewer
½ December 25, 2013
I enjoyed it but I found it a bit hard to relate what was being said with the actual action. I would've preferred that they had adapted the dialogue as well. Good movie otherwise.
Super Reviewer
December 14, 2013
Joss Whedon's black and white film noir cinematography and a decent cast (who obviously look like they are having fun) bring a nice air of novelty, but your enjoyment is going to heavily depend on how much you like Shakespeare.
Super Reviewer
½ August 4, 2013
I found this unwatchable. Struggled to understand what the f-* they were talking about. And I love black and white art house films generally! Boring dud with a good cast. I am sure the 80 odd percent claiming to love this must be full of it.
Super Reviewer
September 15, 2012
The funniest and best Shakespeare adaptation made yet. A gloriously entertaining and spirited movie. I truly loved it. A delightful, charismatic, irresistible and utterly enjoyable romantic comedy. A stylish, sexy and extremely well-crafted piece of work that shines with Shakespeare's words and the charisma of the gifted and wonderful all-star cast. Director, Joss Whedon crafts an outstanding and brilliant film that is filled with humor, mystery and energy. Whedon recruits a large variety of his closes friends and co-workers to act and help make this beautiful and tastefully romantic work of art, they definitely all had a great time making this movie at Whedon's actual home, giving comfort and stability for everyone. A masterpiece. Amy Acker and Alexis Denisof are sensational, they have wonderful chemistry together, they worked together on Whedon's show, Angel many years ago and have not lost their touch. Clark Gregg is terrific. Reed Diamond is excellent. Fran Kranz is fantastic. Nathan Fillion is magnificent. Not one actor in this film gives a bad performance, everyone is stunning and charming.
Super Reviewer
½ August 14, 2013
My second favorite film of summer 2013 after "Before Midnight." It's obviously not the uproarious comedy or SFX-laden blockbuster of typical summer fare, but the master of sci-fi-with-heart Joss Whedon's adaptation of the Bard is stylish, thrilling, and romantic with the light energy of a great summer romp. The black and white is sleek, the set design of Joss Whedon's own house is beautiful and sensuous, and the jazzy soundtrack is just ear ecstasy.

Shakespeare's romcom plot 1.0 is a bit...tame? for modern day. A rather huge deal is made over Hero's virginity, so much that when she is suspected of infidelity on top of fornication, Claudio, her betrothed, could enact such vitriolic public reprobation, her family could pretend she died at such horrific slander, and an otherwise gentle noblewoman would defend her cousin's honor by decreeing the slanderer's murder. Despite the dated material, Whedon adds some valiant updated touches: changing Conrade to a woman to add movement and intrigue to the scene with Sean Maher's icy and conniving Don Jon, hinting at Beatrice and Benedick's clandestine no-strings trysts and subsequent rancor because she presumably wants more and he's a confirmed bachelor, having Benedick deliver his Act II Scene 3 monologue while working out.

Whedon alumni Amy Acker and Alexis Denisof take on [their first] leading roles [in the Whedonverse] as attracting opposites Beatrice and Benedick. The pair rattle off Venusian versus Martian barbs, pratfall like seasoned Vaudevillians, and gradually generate palpable and ardent chemistry in the climactic scene of Beatrice commanding Benedick to murder Claudio as proof of his devotion.

The supporting cast is all charming and fun, especially sweet-faced Fran Kranz as the lovestruck Claudio. Having only seen Acker in supporting broad comedy or restrained drama roles on "HIMYM" and "Dollhouse," Denisof as the hair-helmeted ponce, Sandy Rivers, on "HIMYM," and Kranz as the exuberantly nerdy Topher on "Dollhouse" and stoner trope in "Cabin In the Woods," I'm really quite impressed with the acting of these three.

The iambic rhythms of Elizabethan speech did seem a mouthful for most of the cast at first, but it eventually ironed itself out, or I got over it. I'm always leery of contemporary Shakespearean adaptations that rely too much on physical humor and meaningful looks to clue the audience into the arcane dialect, but there was only a minimum of that, and what minimum there was, was organically funny.
Super Reviewer
July 14, 2013
Might not be for every audience but it should be. Full review later.
Super Reviewer
July 1, 2013
it may be much ado about nothing, and because of that the story is so simple, but good shakespeare adaptations capture the heart of the story, which this did, and good films capture many emotions and varying degrees of experiences, and this did that perfectly despite its massive simplicity. the right chords were hit at the right moments. i laughed, i grieved, i laughed, i welled up with thoughts of love, and then i laughed again. the film was well shot and perfectly acted, leaving me wanting more when all was said and done. each character brought a different element, lindhome the sexuality, fillion the humor, kranz and morgese the romance, diamond the good nature, acker and denisof the maturity, maher the deviance, and on down the line. i cant wait to watch this film again.
Super Reviewer
½ June 23, 2013
Shakespeare's blueprint for practically every romcom ever made gets dismissive treatment by Whedon and Co. who spit it up much as a cat does a hairball. Actually I had the feeling that Whedon watched Branagh's version during one afternoon of pot infused revelry and opined that he could make the same film - only cheaper. Only Whedon fans of the staunchest sort should endure this and then only to see their acting favs class it up for a minute.
Markus Emilio Robinson
Super Reviewer
½ June 20, 2013
Directed and adapted for the big screen from a play thought (my many) to be Shakespeare's best comedy (or the outline of the modern romantic comedy) by the nerd-God Joss Whedon and actually filmed during a two week hiatus amidst the post production of "The Avengers", "Much Ado About Nothing" is sadly nothing more than a hollow attempt at a modern independent film. Admittedly this version is only my second exposure to this title, be it film or printed word, but this doesn't change the fact that Whedon's attempt at adapting the beloved love story between Benedick and Beatrice into a relatable and witty romantic comedy, essentially comes off as a comedy where the first laughs enter in after the initial hour. Furthermore, held up to Kenneth Branagh's 1993 period piece, Whedon's version is wildly forgettable.
I shouldn't feel the need to say this, but Tony Stark isn't in this movie. That is to say, many audiences who are going to see "Much Ado About Nothing" on the Whedon name alone, may find themselves bored out of their skulls rather quickly. So know what you're getting into. Filmed in Whedon's own home, long stretches of "Much Ado About Nothing" come off as something reminiscent of a college film production, with an initial hour that's tediousness is unmatched by any film this year. This is pretty much all due to Whedon's direction; or lack thereof. He doesn't really bring much to the table here. There are a few well crafted/aesthetically interesting scenes, which show off his directorial skills, and he injects a jazzy soundtrack which is sure to be overlooked, but essentially this is a William Shakespeare stage play. In fact, this adaptation is so stripped down , that the lack of evocative mise en scene makes everything seems distractingly like nothing more than a bunch of actors spewing off lines of Elizabethan dialogue. Which I guess is a feat unto itself, but if that's all you got, it's simply not interesting enough to watch for 2 hours. But worse than that, his version suffers from the one thing every film director ballsy enough to adapt Shakespeare dreads, which is not being able to transfer the story onto the screen in a manner where the dialogue seems overwhelmingly comprehensible. With this movie, Whedon may be trying to step out of some kind of box given his reemergence of fame. But if co-writing "The Cabin in the Woods" was a giant leap forward, then "Much Ado About Nothing" is a dull leap back. Also, I can't be the only one who wants him back inside the confines of the Marvel box Disney so graciously built for him.
The acting, which should drive a Shakespearian adaptation, mostly falls flat here. I can't put into words how much Clark Gregg irritates me as an actor. I think it has a lot to do with that stupid Julia Louis-Dreyfus show he was on. And Amy Acker, who plays the role of Beatrice, does it with such a quirkiness that seems to drown audiences the same way an alligator would its prey. She never seems like anything more than an annoying thespian while on screen, overdramatizing every line that comes across her lips. Yes, I understand that Whedon has essentially made the role of Beatrice into a slapstick one, but what Acker's performance turns into is something of a bad SNL sketch. And she is no Kristen Wiig! As for Alexis Denisof (who if you close your eyes sounds exactly like John Michael Higgins) he is the only shining light of the entire film. So it's a good thing that he is playing the lead character, Benedick, as Denisof is absolutely the only reason to watch this movie.
Side Note: In this day and age I don't believe that a director can get away with a Shakespearian adaptation, without going the stylized, big budget route (a la "Romeo + Juliet" or "Coriolanus"). Hence, this Whedon venture is sure to be lost in the shuffle this summer, as its simplicity is partially the reason why it all comes off as fairly boring. By the way, I realize that there are still quite enjoyable Keira Knightley, large gown, pouty Brit, period piece films which come out every year, but a Shakespeare adaptation is another story entirely.
Final Thought: Whedon's "Much Ado About Nothing" is the type of film that would be playing in the background during a pretentious hipster New York (or New York themed) party. So, my only advice if you've read this far and are still planning on buying a ticket to see this, would be to not go into "Much Ado About Nothing" cold. That is to say, if you aren't familiar with the original text or have not taken a class where an instructor has spent countless hours explaining to you why this dialogue is so funny, then you might be one of the first in your screening to mentally check out. Oh, and I only pray that "Much Ado About Nothing" isn't your first go around with Shakespeare, because this is an adaptation which is assuredly far too Honors English Lit. to capture the imagination of any novice.

Written by Markus Robinson, Edited by Nicole I. Ashland

Follow me on Twitter @moviesmarkus
Super Reviewer
½ January 25, 2013
Joss Whedon nails his adaptation of the Shakespeare classic, with terrific performances, direction, music and cinematography. It truly succeeds in both capturing the modern setting and staying true to the class of the Bard.
Super Reviewer
½ March 10, 2013
'Much Ado About Nothing'. A wonderful adaptation with all the love and jest you could ask for. A ridiculous ensemble. In Joss we trust.
Super Reviewer
November 13, 2013
Joss Whedon adapts William Shakespeare's comedy Much Ado About Nothing into a stylish film noir. Shot in black and white, the cinematography is especially rich and textured. And, the film is given a classic, timeless feel by juxtaposing the Shakespearian language against a 1950s aesthetic. Starring Amy Acker, Alexis Denisof, Fran Kranz, Nathan Fillion, and Clark Gregg, Whedon has assembled an impressive cast from his company of actors, and they all deliver excellent performances. An inspired interpretation, Joss Whedon brings an exciting and compelling vision to Much Ado About Nothing.
Super Reviewer
July 6, 2013
Wow. Joss Whedon never ceases to amaze me. I find it astounding that the same man made this, The Avengers and Cabin in the Woods, all of which I LOVED. Much Ado looks incredible, the acting is phenomenal, and for a guy who respects, but has never been able to actually READ Shakespeare, I am so thankful this movie exists. It brings a landmark piece of literature to a whole new audience, myself included. And it's just such a cool movie! It's modern, yet timeless. It's completely respectful of the source while very much carving it's own path. It's incredibly artistic while never feeling overly artsy. I could not recommend this more highly. LOVED IT.
Super Reviewer
½ July 1, 2013
With the wars being over with the exception of the constant bickering between Beatrice(Amy Acker) and Benedick(Alexis Denisof), Leonato(Clark Gregg) sees it as a prime opportunity to reconcile with the illegitimate Don John(Sean Maher). Except he has other ideas, like conspiring with his henchpeople, Borachio(Spencer Treat Clark) and Conrade(Riki Lindhome), to undermine Don Pedro's(Reed Diamond) efforts to woo Hero(Jillian Morghese) on the behalf of Claudio(Fran Kranz).

While probably not the best version of "Much Ado About Nothing," Joss Whedon still mostly manages to overcome the typical awkwardness of tranposing Shakespeare to the modern day to deliver an entertaining adaptation that hits the right notes, both high and low. All of which is aided by Whedon displaying a hitherto unknown visual flair while employing physical comedy to good effect. Plus, there is Alexis Denisof and Amy Acker, already previously adept at supernatural tragedy elsewhere, proving they can also handle romantic comedy together while nobody does clueless quite as well as Nathan Fillion.
Super Reviewer
April 13, 2013
Amazing that this was done in such a short time at Whedon's home. The story is familiar to many. It is a prototype romantic comedy with a minor fake tragedy built in for tension. There are a few clever visuals like the one used in the poster artwork. Modernizing the setting worked in most cases, except Sean Maher's character of the evil brother Don John didn't make a lot of sense. Nathan Fillion is hilarious as the bumbling security chief Dogberry. The young couple played by Kranz and Morgese are sweet and a bit foolhardy. The real stars though are Denisof as Benedick and Acker as Beatrice. The opening scene explains their history a bit and why their love is masked by insults when they meet again. Alexis Denisof, who looks better in a beard I think, does some funny pratfalls and posturing. However, I was especially impressed by Amy Acker as Beatrice. She too does a little physical humor, but her wit and strength and femininity shine through in every scene. Acker is what really makes this version worth watching.
Super Reviewer
June 29, 2013
I am such a fan of Kenneth Branagh's 1993 screen adaptation of MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING. It made me want to go to Tuscany, get a tan, and just sit and watch Emma Thompson seduce an entire world with her considerable charms. Branagh took this Shakespeare comedy and demonstrated his great ability to splash sexiness and vibrancy across a screen. Branagh clearly had a burning desire to elevate the material to bring sheer joy to an audience.

Joss Whedon's motivations for this new version are somewhat murkier. Shot in 12 days, mostly at his lovely house, this modern day adaptation has some lovely performances, clever new interpretations, and seductive cinematography, but it felt like an aesthetic experiment coupled with having a barn and shooting a movie with one's friends. It's the lark of someone who came off a huge blockbuster (THE AVENGERS) and wanted to make a simple, heartfelt movie as a palette cleanser of sorts. It shows. There's no burning desire for this movie to exist, no deep yearning or passion here. It's pleasant, and the actors are clearly invested and having a great time.

Clark Gregg and Nathan Fillion in particular bring a loose sense of fun to their performances, and Amy Acker as Beatrice is simply lovely. She has warmth combined with a bit of slapstick chops, and she's definitely one to watch. There's also eye candy for days with this utterly sexy, gorgeous cast. No matter your sexual orientation, there's sexiness oozing from any part of the frame, thanks to Reed Diamond, Sean Maher, Riki Lindhome, Ashley Johnson, Joshua Zar, and on and on. The very talented Tom Lenk plays Fillion's right hand man, and brings a humorous bewilderment to the party.

Technically, this very low budget film benefits from cinematographer Jay Hunter's black and white use of the EPIC Red camera. Having cut his teeth on reality television, his camera work is alive and yet there are many occasions where he brings beautiful compositions to the screen. Rest of the tech credits are modest, coming off like a low budget indie wherein the crew used what was at hand to accomplish their goals.

I don't want to sound harsh about this film, because the language is lovely and there's a breezy spirit to the whole thing. It simply pales in comparison to Branagh's memorable achievement. When I go to a film, I want to see the filmmaker's desperate need to tell a story and not see them go through the motions in order to clear their head. In a nutshell, Branagh celebrated ravenous love, while Whedon celebrates simple sweetness. I guess it all depends on your hunger needs.
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