There's magic to filmmaker Joss Whedon and what he does. That was present on every frame of The Avengers. It is truly fascinating that he chose to follow up that uber-blockbuster with a modern, black-and-white rendition of a Shakespeare classic, Much Ado About Nothing. Wait, what?
See, the key to the success of The Avengers in many ways, is it is a tale told by a great storyteller. Since Shakespeare’s follies are considered some of humankind’s best yarns, looks like Much Ado About Nothing should be astounding.
In fact, it is that and so much more. Whedon takes Shakespeare’s tale of a weekend getaway and all its romantic and intriguing trappings and sets it in Los Angeles in modern times. The beneficiary of that bold move is the audience.
It is a well known lore in Hollywood that Whedon took a troupe of his favorite actors and instead of taking a vacation, which he so needed after the laborious The Avengers shoot, the filmmaker made a Shakespeare movie in about a dozen days in his hometown of Los Angeles.
S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Phil Coulson, Clark Gregg, is Leonato, while Firefly’s Nathan Fillion is Dogberry, Amy Acker (Angel, Cabin in the Woods) is Beatrice, and that is just the tip of the iceberg of talent that comprises Much Ado About Nothing.
The standout of the bunch is Alexis Denisof, whose Benedick is equally slithery and sublime. He is the actor whose performance on which the entire film turns. Denisof, veteran of Angel and The Avengers, has an absolute ball throughout the film. It is as if he has never had a part so rich in a project so resonant -- which is most likely true.
When it comes to highlighting the stars, who tease their brilliance in the Much Ado About Nothing trailer, the spotlight has to shine on the man behind the camera.
Whedon’s storytelling skills have only improved with time and experience. The fact that he had such success with The Avengers only gave him a shot in the creative arm and it is downright scary to think about what he does next. For those legions who believe he can do no wrong, prepare yourself for the next chapter of the Whedon wizardry of film that is showcased with his ode to the Shakespearean sonic symphony of verbal vibrancy.
What is also so fantastic about this film is how if even a fraction of those Whedon fans who bought tickets to see The Avengers, or purchased the complete Buffy the Vampire series DVD -- or even enjoyed Cabin in the Woods -- show up to see Much Ado About Nothing, the Bard will have conquered yet another generation with his storytelling brilliance.
This Much Ado About Nothing review counts that as the greatest victory of all.