"Shakespeare knows how to throw a party."
While Joss Whedon was working on his big budget film, The Avengers, he was working on this much smaller but personal passion project. He only needed 12 days to shoot this black and white movie which consisted mostly of actors he had worked with in the past from his TV productions. He filmed this entirely from his home so fans of Whedon might appreciate how passionate he was about the adaptation of William Shakespeare's play. I am a huge fan of Shakespeare's plays, but I usually have a hard time enjoying the films that try to modernize his 16th century plays. That is exactly what happened here, I just can't conceive these characters speaking this way living at the present. It kind of throws me off as I would rather watch a version of this play centered around the 16th century. Much Ado About Nothing isn't considered as one of Shakespeare's best plays either. I didn't care too much for most of the characters and the comedy didn't work too well either. The main themes of the play still come through in this film however. We can see how easy it is to build love out of nowhere or destroy it with words. This is a very different film coming from Joss Whedon, but I guess one of the advantages he has for having so much success is getting to do films he is passionate about. Fans of this play might enjoy this more than I did.
The governor of Messina, Leonato (Clark Gregg), is getting prepared for a much awaited visit from his good friend Don Pedro (Reed Diamond). Pedro who has recently come out victorious from a Civil War is returning with two of his officers: Benedick (Alexis Denisof) and Claudio (Fran Kranz). Along with his brother Don John (Sean Maher) who was on the losing side of the War, they are all going to stay at Leonato's home. Love soon is in the air when Claudio falls for Leonato's only daughter, Hero (Jillian Morgese). Leonato and Don Pedro make plans for their wedding, while at the same time they decide to try to get Benedick and Hero's cousin, Beatrice (Amy Acker), to fall in love with each other despite how much they hate each other. Meanwhile, Don John, who is still bitter about his defeat will try to do what it takes to make others miserable and therefor tries to break up the relationship between Hero and Claudio. Will love prevail or will Don John be able to destroy their love? If you've read the play than you know the answer.
Some of the same basic complaints about Shakespeare's play can be heard here as well, such as how underdeveloped the villain (Don John) is here. He is perhaps one of the weakest villains from his plays. The love story between these two pair of lovers isn't something out of the ordinary either, but the actors give strong performances nonetheless. Fans of Firefly and Serenity will be pleased to see Nathan Fillion in the comedic supporting role here and he stands out from the rest. This is one of Shakespeare's lighter comedies, considering it doesn't end in tragedy, and it has some funny moments, but I just didn't like the way the play was modernized. I never got engaged with the story and I never felt the wit coming from Whedon's other works.