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Much Ado About Nothing

In theaters June 14, 2013

109 minutes

I saw Joss Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing recently. I have been trying to formulate an “official” review but instead have opted for a more informal reaction piece in the form of this blog post. There were elements that I liked while trying to put a review together but I couldn’t get it to where I liked the review as a whole, the whole was not greater than the sum of its parts.

Then it hit me, that is EXACTLY how I felt about the film. Don’t get me wrong, I liked the film, just not as much as I had expected to. The blending of old school (Shakespeare’s story and verse) and new (modern day setting) was successful, just not as successful as I think it could have been.

One thing that was absolutely perfect was the look of the film. Shooting in black and white was a masterful choice. The setting for the film was Whedon’s actual home in Santa Monica California (which was designed by his wife).

It was fantastic to see so many members of the Whedonverse (from Buffy to The Avengers) together in one film. The cast had phenomenal chemistry and it was a joy to watch them interact. That being said, they didn’t sell me on Shakespeare. There were times where it felt like they were simply delivering lines in verse and not acting like they were from the Victorian age. They threw around words like “Lord” and “lady” and “doth” and whatnot but at the end of the day I wasn’t buying (I would say I was leasing).

The story got cluttered and muddled down. Joss took the text pretty much as it was written by the Bard but I think it could have used some editing. Some of the lines were long winded and it made the story a tad hard to follow at times. The fact that they were speaking but not acting Shakespearean and not dressed like Victorians, it created a disconnect for me and I am someone who enjoys both Shakespeare and Whedon very much. I would have liked to see a little more blending of language with modern speech and a little more Shakespearean costuming to bridge the gaps. Then again Joss wrote, directed, did the score and filmed it in 12 days while on vacation from post production of the blockbuster The Avengers so maybe he deserves a little slack. 🙂

This is a very intelligent film. Anyone looking for a “summer movie” should not go see this film. It requires your full attention and although it has its faults and under-delivers in some areas, it does a good job of keeping it.

This film is very whimsical, however that whimsy works against it at times. This film lacks balance, even if it does so subtly. I am grading Joss harshly because I have extremely high expectations so please note that I am grading on a curve here.

I do recommend seeing this film though. Even though its whole is not greater than the sum of its parts, it has some pretty awesome parts.

You can read this and other reel reviews by Michael at Keeping It Reel.

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