MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING Review: From Marvel to Shakespeare, Joss Whedon Can Do It All


Joss Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing is one of the finest independent passion projects I’ve ever had the pleasure of seeing. Clearly motivated by his own heart and no corporate mumbo-jumbo (still, his Avengers movies are great), Much Ado finds Joss going back to his roots of performing Shakespeare in the living room. Here, we see Joss getting his very best of friends and fellow collaborators together for a couple weeks at his home and shooting an adaptation of one of Shakespeare’s best and funniest works, and it may just be the best feature film Joss has made, all things considered.

No, it doesn’t have the action-heavy thrills of his Avengers movies and it doesn’t have the kickass characters he himself created inSerenity (from the spectacular Firefly ), but just as we saw in his Marvel movies, Joss is a true treasure when it comes to taking pre-established content/characters he truly cares about and bringing them to life on the big screen. Both Avengers films are brilliantly written and still manage to astound because of just how well Joss’ writing brought them life and filled them with a sense of purpose and humanity, and here, we get the opportunity to see Joss working with material he loves just as much as those Marvel characters, the work of William Shakespeare.

For a film made on a low-budget in a small setting for the simple purpose of relaxation (Whedon said in an interview with Kermode & Mayo that making this film was better mental relaxation that sleep would have been), I can’t think of a better choice than Much Ado . The king of the romantic comedy genre, this play brims with heartfelt drama and brilliant situational comedy, and for Joss to choose this from a catologue that consists of Hamlet , Macbeth , The Tempest (and on and on), it was kinda slick and ballsy.

But then again, Joss didn’t neccessarily intend for this to be a monumental film. In fact, he considered it might just be a personal fun thing to maybe be shown at parties, so the fact that we all have the opportunity to watch it and discuss it shouldn’t be taken for granted.

I haven’t really enjoyed many Shakespeare-to-film adaptations (although I haven’t seen as many as I would like), but here is the rare one in the category of Justin Kerzel’s Macbeth and Ralph Fienne’s Coriolanus , although substantially lighter in tone and far more personal than both of those films.

I love this movie so much, and considering the scale of its production and the passion and sincerity behind it, it may be my favorite Whedon film.

(By the way, Amy Acker is lights out as Beatrice. Like, phenomenal.)

One comment

  1. I watched this for a lit-to-film class a few semesters back and thought it was splendid. Great review, Ben. We also watched Kenneth Branagh’s adaptation which had Michael Keaton in the bumbling cop role. Worth a watch, for sure.

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