• PG-13, 1 hr. 48 min.
  • Comedy
  • Directed By:    Joss Whedon
  • In Theaters:    Jun 7, 2013 Limited
  • On DVD:    Oct 8, 2013
  • Roadside Attractions

Much Ado About Nothing Reviews

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Omar L ½ September 14, 2014
The complexity of Shakespeare's dialogue belies the simplicity of the plots of his stories, especially those of his comedies. The mistaken identities, the messed-up intentions -- at their core, the plots are no deeper than that of an average episode of Three's Company. But it is the very simplicity of the characterizations and plot that is the reason for why these stories have endured for centuries. The changes in time and setting allow the essences of the stories and writing to shine, and Whedon's modern-day setting highlights just how dated some of the dialogue is.

Part of the problems with Shakespearean dialogue is that some actors deliver the lines as poetry, making the intention difficult to understand. Those actors that grasp the meaning of the story ignore the rigidity of iambic pentameter and sell their character through nuance. The best performer in this version is, in my opinion, Fran Kranz as Claudio, whose energy, hope, and despair bring to life a man who loves and wants to be loved.
Carrie S ½ September 13, 2014
Nice to see the band back together again.
Christopher B ½ March 13, 2013
Whedon-ites may remember, from dvd-extras, that Josh occasionally invited cast members of his TV shows over on weekends to do impromptu readings of Shakespeare. Acker, Fillion, and Denisof basically auditioned for these parts several years ago. Hopefully there will be a few cameos of others as well.
Joachim V June 27, 2013
It may have it's moments, but it does not compare to Kenneth Branagh's version at all.
Alysha A ½ March 15, 2014
modern day environment plus Shakespearean language = not my thing.
Katie S ½ August 16, 2014
An elegant interpretation of a classic.
Jesse M August 14, 2014
Somewhat darker in tone than I was expecting of a Shakespeare comedy, especially in light of previous adaptions. While Beatrice is the exception, sometimes the lines spill forth as if the actors have no idea what their memorized lines mean. In some ways, it still rides on the coat tails of Baz Lurhman's 1996 "Romeo & Juliet".

It's never bad, but it's far from a definitive Shakespeare experience
Eric F October 7, 2013
Shot in 12 days, pictured in black-and-white, and filmed entirely at Joss Whedon's home during his time-off from filming "The Avengers", this modern take on what is possibly William Shakespeare's dullest work brings a bright, simple touch to it's eternally over-done source material, and makes it shine like new.
I've always said that everything Whedon touches turns to gold, but this film proves once and for all that he is the king Midas of live-action storytelling (that's a compliment, I promise). "Much Ado About Nothing" is one of my least favorites of Shakespeare's many works, but here we see these otherwise boring characters coming to life in a brand new (and thoroughly hilarious) fashion.
There are many great films that benefit heavily from being shot in (or mostly in) black-and-white ("Sin City", "Psycho", and "The Artist", just to name a few), so it's not really all that surprising that this particular color scheme could help breathe life into "Much Ado", but what is most surprising is just how perfectly it fits. By shooting the film in such a simple color palette, Whedon's leaving everything up to the acting and the dialogue: normally this would be a risk regardless of how good your script and your cast are, but this is Shakespeare we're talking about -- the dialogue is so good by nature that it almost acts itself out.
As I said though, it's not just the dialogue, but also the acting has to be quite good -- and it is. Amy Acker and Alexis Denisof (both of whom are part of Whedon's usual "posse") are especially good in this one, and Clark Gregg (who has also worked with Whedon before) makes an electrifying Leonato.
The idea for this film sprung out of a tradition that Joss Whedon has had with many of his actors and friends for many, many years: getting together at his home (or other places) one night a week for private renditions and readings of various Shakespeare plays. The evolution of this concept into a full-blown movie is clearly something that sat within Whedon's imagination for a long time before finally coming to fruition.
The daringness of Joss Whedon's "Much Ado About Nothing" is in the bare simplicity of the visuals as they allow the genius writing to take full control and mesh effortlessly with truly absorbing performances, backed by a quiet musical score and natural lighting and sound designs. To all those who are fans of Shakespeare, fans of Whedon, fans of this play in particular, or just plain fans, Whedon's retelling of this classic is sure to impress -- or in the very least is sure to delight. I can promise to all that have been let down, time and time again by overbearing, gaudy visuals and directorial mediocrity in past Shakespeare adaptations, Whedon's version of "Much Ado" is a masterpiece of minimalism and it has the charm and elegance that a classic story of this grandeur deserves.
Greg W ½ October 9, 2013
the bard gets an up date grrr8 cast
Ethan Perregaux Ethan Perregaux March 11, 2013
While undoubtedly probably a great adaption of the play, I have no knowledge of the story, the script is very dense and the black and white atmosphere makes a bland Shakespeare film even harder to stay interested in. I only watched about 20 minutes before I got bored.
Eric H May 2, 2013
This films claustrophobic, black and white cinematography is a constant, confident reminder that what we are watching is not reality, nor does it ever want to be.This picture shows the audience the pure talent that a lot of Whedon's pool of actors bring to the table and that they can shine outside of television and sci-fi roles as well.I'd recommend this movie for both fans of modern transpositions of Shakespearean works and Whedon fans alike.For me watching Shakespeare is almost like watching a play or film spoken in another language and they're almost always impossible to completely follow or get into. I had the same exact problem with this film as I've had with others. The movie took me a really long time to get involved in, and was rather dull at first, but once I got into it I was hooked. I loved all of the performances. This is one fresh film and I highly recommend if you want to see something different.
Katie G July 24, 2014
An amusing modern adaptation.
Anthony A May 10, 2013
Wonderful modern adaptation of Much Ado.
Jacob G July 14, 2014
Joss Whedon's magic touch continues with Much Ado About Nothing.

It's one of those cases where the summary sounds exceptionally droll: b&w film, modern setting enactment of a Shakespeare play, using the same language as Shakespeare.

And yet those same things that make the movie sound droll actually work to its benefit.

Even though my exposure to the Shakespeare play is limited to a read-through in Shakespeare class and, perhaps, watching a stage adaptation, Shakespeare's sharp language here allows the movie to crack with familiarity.

Yet the modern setting allows us to see things in a new light. While at first blush the setting and archaic language seem at odds, not modernizing the words keeps Much Ado from becoming a fluff piece like so many other modern versions of Shakespeare plays.

The modern setting allows us to see the absurdities of some of the events for what they are, such as the insane swiftening of marriage. But shooting in color film would (probably) make the whole thing feel overwhelmingly modern. I dunno. I guess its a case of one aesthetic vs another, but I'd argue Whedon made the right choice.

That said, if you're like me and have trouble following Shakespeare because of how he uses words, turning on subtitles is highly recommended.
Federico P March 9, 2013
One of my favorite movies, top 5 for sure
Les E July 6, 2014
Wrong in just about every way bar the script.
André-Claude L November 21, 2013
pleasantly odd and very nice
Kristen G April 28, 2013
The trailer makes this movie look really full of itself, but it's Joss Whedon, so I'm willing to give it the benefit of a doubt.
Tracie J July 3, 2014
Very enjoyable and good visual comedic acting.
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