December 5, 2013 -- This new adaptation of the Shakespearean play is set in modern times, but it is shot in black and white, and it retains the language of the original. The result is very odd looking, like a modern film done on the cheap, in an ancient language, viewed through a 60-year-old television set. I saw this on a DVD release. The subtitles were a big help.
Sometimes it seems you can add 20 points to your Metacritic score just by shooting a film in black and white (like “The Artist”). That seems to apply here. This adaptation of “Much Ado About Nothing” works, but not as well as you might think it does based on the way the majority of critics rate it. While the women in the show, particularly Amy Acker, who plays Beatrice, and Jillian Morgese, who plays Hero, provide some spice, most of the men in the movie are bland most of the time.
Oh, there are thespian eruptions by the men here and there, Clark Gregg (“The Avengers”) erupts in unrighteous indignation at a wedding as Leonato, the morally wounded father of the bride (Hero). The bridegroom, Claudio (played by Fran Kranz of “The Cabin in the Woods”) likewise gets emotionally wrought in the same scene. Although this is a romantic comedy, there aren't too many laughs in it and it seems a bit thin on the romance angle as well. Benedick (played by Alexis Denisof of “The Avengers”) scampers around comically in a scene where he overhears some people talking about him and Beatrice has a similar scene.
The story is about a groom, Claudio, who is deceived into thinking his bride, Hero, is a slut. He and Hero's father both reject Hero at the altar. It is also about a matchmaking conspiracy to create a romance between the sharp-witted Beatrice and Benedick, who is a confirmed bachelor. It gets melodramatic for a time, but it all ends well. The setup for the final scene is a little underdeveloped, but the final scenes work well as the various matchmaking and morality schemes are brought to fruition.
When I was watching this, I couldn't help but remember how much better the 1993 adaptation of the same play was, starring, and directed by, Kenneth Branagh. In particular, Michael Keaton's crazed 1993 interpretation of Constable Dogberry was inspired. In this new film, Nathan Fillion plays the witless Dogberry in a less manic, but less comic style. This film rates a C+. Skip it and watch the 1993 adaptation instead. It is better, even though it was filmed in non-artistic color.
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