A visit by Don Pedro and his fellows re-ignites a "merry war" betwixt Benedick and Beatrice. Claudio swoons for Hero. Don Pedro hatches plans to usurp Cupid in matters of love. But Don John tries to ruin it all.
Jason L. Mitchell
Adam R. Brown
Wray Nerely is a struggling actor who starred as a spaceship pilot on Spectrum, a cult classic science fiction series. He navigates the odd people and incidents he encounters along the way while learning to love the fans he has.
Leonato (Clark Gregg), the governor of Messina, is visited by his friend Don Pedro (Reed Diamond) who is returning from a victorious campaign against his rebellious brother Don John (Sean Maher). Accompanying Don Pedro are two of his officers: Benedick (Alexis Denisof) and Claudio (Fran Kranz). While in Messina, Claudio falls for Leonato's daughter Hero (Jillian Morgese), while Benedick verbally spars with Beatrice (Amy Acker), the governor's niece. The budding love between Claudio and Hero prompts Don Pedro to arrange with Leonato for a marriage. In the days leading up to the ceremony, Don Pedro, with the help of Leonato, Claudio and Hero, attempts to sport with Benedick and Beatrice in an effort to trick the two into falling in love. Meanwhile, the villainous Don John, with the help of his allies Conrade (Riki Lindhome) and Borachio (Spencer Treat Clark), plots against the happy couple, using his own form of trickery to try to destroy the marriage before it begins. A series of comic...Written by
It is Ursula & Hero whom are 'meddling' (talking about Benedick's love for Beatrice as she eavesdrops). In the following scene, Claudio relays to Don Pedro that it was Margaret & Hero that were meddling. See more »
I was pleasantly surprised to discover this movie on Hulu a few night ago, and since Much Ado About Nothing is one of my favorite Shakespeare plays, I was eager to dive in.
For the most part, it doesn't disappoint. Whedon, as usual, has a good eye for mood and for how dialog impacts action. The visual of the "mourners" coming down the hillside with candles was in itself an amazing feat of cinematography and setting, for example. The acting was superb as well, and in general this modern translation of the play captures its essence and impact.
Some specifics for me:
1) The actress playing Beatrice -- amazing job. Hate to say this, but I think she may have done a better job of interpreting the role than Emma Thompson in many ways. Very believable incarnation, and this helped to make the humor of her biting wit more comprehensible.
2) The backstory -- Not that every little piece has to be specifically addressed, but I didn't quite get what Don Pedro was the "prince" of. Not sure if he and his "soldiers" were Mafia, or actual royalty, or what, but that lack of clarity seemed to hurt the credibility a bit.
3) The actor playing Benedick -- I've seen him before in other things, and he's generally good, but I don't think this was the role for him. As much as Beatrice sold her role to the audience, Benedick did not, especially in the dramatic scenes. He was okay in the purely comedic scenes, granted, but for me and others, his lack of "presence" hurt the relationship between him and Beatrice. Benedick is a difficult role, and perhaps another Whedon associate could have done it more justice. Tudyk, perhaps? Or put Fillion there instead of Dogberry?
4) General interpretation -- Lots of little things throughout to really help make the action and the words clear, or perhaps to put a little different twist to things. When Claudio sees Hero faint, for example, he instinctively starts to go to her but is restrained by Pedro; nice touch. The music is fun, and I'm going now to find this version of "Hey, Nonny, Nonny." Not quite sure why black and white was chosen, but no complaints; it adds some "classiness" to this movie. Acting in general was good -- Don John, Don Pedro, Leonato, Claudio, Ursula -- nearly everyone gave Branaugh's version a run for its money.
5) Diversity -- Not sure why this was so very, very white. I think there is a danger in diversity for diversity's sake, but no major roles in other ethnicities at all?
6) Dogberry -- It's going to be difficult for anyone to top Michael Keaton's take on Dogberry, but Nathan Fillion does a pretty good job here. I think one weakness is that somone (Whedon?) decided that Dogberry ought to have some credibility, so Fillion had to navigate tricky waters with the character. Not sure it completely worked, but Fillion did what he could with what he was given.
All in all, a fun rendition of a great play. I enjoyed the risks Whedon took, and the overall feeling of "a party gone wrong and then put right again."
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