Much Ado About Nothing (Blu-ray)
If you read my review for HAMLET, you know my deep love for Kenneth Branagh. In this review for MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING, it doesn’t change. What I simply adore about Branagh is his attention to detail and passion for any of the Bard’s tales. A story like MUCH ADO holds a heavy cast and Branagh really brings out the perfect match for each character. While many people find that Shakespearian adaptations might be a bit much to handle, this one is more fun that one can imagine.
Love is certainly a many splendid thing, unless you spend more time arguing about the logistics of it rather than just simply falling into it. Here is lies the problem with Benedick (Kenneth Branagh) and Beatrice (Emma Thompson). These two strong willed, like-minded individuals scorn the very thing that is love, especially when they seem to be surrounded by it. Right under their very noses lies the very quickly unfolding romance between Claudio (Robert Sean Leonard) and Hero (Kate Beckinsale). After going through the trials and tribulations of their own love, Claudio and Hero decide that Benedick and Beatrice are meant for one another. This does not prove to be a simple task for the two lovers. Don John (Keanu Reeves) is set on having Hero for himself and will do anything in his pursuit. He makes Claudio think that Hero has been around the block a couple of times, so to speak, therefore his love for her is tested.
What’s so appealing about a story like MUCH ADO is that it provides a bit of lowbrow humor as well as an entertaining love story. It also gives a side-by-side comparison of each end of the love spectrum. Branagh tries to bring Shakespeare to the average film viewer. I think he does this rather successfully with a large cast that includes Thompson, Leonard, Beckinsale, Reeves, Richard Briers, Denzel Washington, Imelda Staunton, Michael Keaton, and the director himself. Each actor brings his or her respective character to life in a way that is refreshing and in no way even slightly annoying. One you might immediately be worried about is Reeves. Don’t worry, he has the role down, mainly due to the fact that Don John’s character shares the some of the same mannerisms that Reeves often brings to the screen. Washington also shows why he is such a versatile actor—the guy can do anything! He spits out the lines like they are second nature. Watch out for Keaton as well, he will quickly win you over.
Branagh’s deep understanding of the material is key for any Shakespearian adaptation he decides to take on. Honestly, he’s the guy who does it the best. I think his mission has always been to bring Shakespeare to the masses in a delightful and enjoyable way. Branagh nails every aspect right down to the scenery, which illuminates every scene presented. For those out there who can’t give Shakespeare a chance or want to score some points with their lady, this is a film they should see.
Video: This Branagh adaptation is not as vivid as HAMLET was, but it still manages to suffice. The color balance seems a little off and there are some light scratches at times. I’m kind of surprised this transfer didn’t get more attention. (1.85:1 Widescreen)
Audio: The most important thing here is taken care of— you can hear the dialogue clearly. I hate having to turn the sound up and down when characters are in heated conversation. The soundtrack also comes through spectacularly. (2.0 DTS-HD)
Much Ado About Nothing featurette: This is the only featurette on the disc and while it’s nice to get some behind the scenes action, you feel cheated. Where’s the commentary with Branagh? Where’s the rest of the special features? Apparently they weren’t important.