Monday, October 7, 2013

What's Next On My List? Much Ado About Nothing


People, this is my absolute favorite Shakespeare play and I REALLY wanted to see this movie and I was very disappointed. There are two version that I like very much, you can read about them here!

The Prince Don Pedro and his men after the war reside at the houses of Signor Leonato of Messina. With the Prince came three, among all other soldiers, who play an important part in the story. Benedick, the brave Claudio and Don John the bastard, the Prince’s brother, in his life previously accused of treason. In the house we have the only daughter of Signor Leonato, Hero, her cousin, Beatrice and two maids Margaret and Ursula. Benedick and Beatrice hate each other, to the point that they start to irritate pretty much everyone. So the Prince comes up with the idea of telling the two, that the other one is in love with them and to disguise their affection, starting to act as if they hated the other. This plan works perfectly and the two declare love for one and the other. On the other hand, Claudio falls in love with Hero. But Don John is highly bored and decides to mess with their heads.
He manages to make Claudio believe that Hero is already cheating on him. He and the Prince are easily deceived and at the wedding Claudio makes a scene. Afterwards the otherS decide to lie, and tell the men that Hero had died out of pain in her heart. Two basically idiots, the comic relief guys in the story happen to be two seeking to become detectives and they catch Don John’s men. The plot is then discovered, but it is too late, since Don John has already fled. Claudio is destroyed by the thought of having killed her beloved Hero and decides to take whatever punishment Signor Leonato chooses. He tells him that he shall marry his brother’s daughter. But that ends up to be Hero and they party happily together.

Here is the problem: NOTHING NEW HAPPENED! Movie is a fantastic medium as it can do a lot of things that books and theater cannot. Except for here! AS NOTHING HAPPENED. You know what this was? A Whedon cast reunion! I didn't mind as far as Alexis Denisof, Sean Maher, Nathan Fillion and Amy Acker goes, because they did OK in their part. Nobody else did! Like the guy playing Claudio? He was f*cking awful!
Here is the deal: In the original story Claudio loves Hero so much that just the mere thought of losing her drives him insane! That is why Don John can mess with his head! Here I just couldn't believe that Claudio loves her - not for a single second - therefore he comes off as a passive-aggressive idiot who is far too easily tricked into believing ANYTHING. Who the hell would want to marry this idiot?! Oh, and I guess Agent Coulson is here, as he has only one scene where I can look away from the fact that Loki killed him. (Avengers joke, you are welcome!)

I love this story so much that even I know it by heart and I just kept feeling that the movie does not do justice to it! There are far more comical elements in it and yet only a few have been really added here. They are funny nonetheless - like when Benedick hears the guys talking about how Beatrice loves him. That really made me laugh. But other than the music that enhanced Don John's evilness, - he was by far the most entertaining character in all of the movie - not much can be credited to the story as the main thing that kept interrupting the natural flow of the story was the real Shakespearean dialogue. I'm OK with modernizing - except it didn't modernize! At the very end Whedon remembered 'Oh, we have cellphones now. Let's just show Don John being caught on that and that'll be fine.' That is exactly it, in such a technological world, it is really impossible to believe that Claudio would blame Hero without asking a single question or looking for further evidence - emphasis on the evidence part...
And the photographer? There is this girl who keeps taking pictures and I swear I thought that she would be used to make a photoshopped picture, or to help Dogberry uncover the truth about the matter - nope. She had absolutely no f*cking function whatsoever. Why was that there? No clue.
Another thing is the setting. A house? In all the other plays you have this huge area, the whole of freaking Messina is available to us while here we have about 8 people or so. Am I really supposed to believe that Claudio didn't ask if anybody else had sex in Hero's room? That they keep calling Dogberry neighbor yet he is supposed to be just a bodyguard? The setting DOESN'T fit the original dialogue!

I'm OK with modernizing - like for example the BBC's version of the play. But there they managed a setting that adds to every single character and the dialogue is modernized in a way that makes the flow of the story more natural. Here? No.
While talking about it with my sister, she actually came up with a great story, think about Jesus Christ Superstar musical movie (1973): Friends get together and play out the story for fun. That would've been a great idea as it would explain why they speak Shakespearean - also it would greatly add to the fact that we never leave that stupid house. Hero fainting? Benedick and Beatrice reconnecting? Everything would've made much-much more sense if this was a gathering among friends! Hey everyone, we are here let's have fun and reenact that famous play for our friend Joss, who kindly invited us and have fun this weekend! And then, it would be clear why Don John gets away with what he did! JUST THINK ABOUT IT!

Speaking of reconnecting, we are given this extra story line in which Beatrice sleeps with Benedick, who afterwards leaves without saying anything. This would give reason to why she hates him, so OK, I'll buy that. But, then we have Benedick's original monologue where he admits to have never before noticed Beatrice for the woman that she is. YOU SLEPT TOGETHER! The whole scene is unbelievable because we already know that he does see her as a woman and even if he had no feelings for her when they did - it still doesn't explain why he is being just an ass to her!
What I adore about the love between these two has always been the fact that they love each other without ever realizing it! Not to mention that one can fall in love even if they have never had the pleasure to hold them or to kiss them! The fact that they had sex only decreased the value of their affection in my opinion. Yes - they have ruined one of my favorite couples. I will give you that the one sentence Beatrice has: "Use it for my love in some other way then swearing by it.", was the most beautiful execution of that line in any adaptation.

If the main goal was to really have 'much ado about NOTHING' - then congratulations as you have achieved your goal! Whedon, you are considered by some the God of nerds - so how'bout you stick to the kind of movies and series you are actually good at instead of ruining my favorite plays? I really hope nobody sees this movie.

Until the next item on my list!
Do read my other review about the good adaptations here!
_ _ _ _ _ _ 

Beatrice Amy Acker
Benedick Alexis Denisof
Hero Jillian Morgese
Claudio Fran Kranz
Leonato Clark Gregg
Dogberry - Nathan Fillion
Don JohnSean Maher
MargaretAshley Johnson
Prince Don PedroReed Diamond
_ _ _ _ _ _

UPDATE (2017.08.09)

About two months ago I attended a university recital in which the drama group prepared their own version of this masterpiece. Now... I gotta say, with all of my heart, that it was a one hour play which surpassed this pile of shit by mileeeeeess!!! I just still cannot wrap my head around the fact of how boring this was... They decided to make the university drama group the characters of the play, who are, in the meanwhile, preparing for the performance (thus justifying the need to speak in the original Shakespearean!). First of all, Claudio wasn't a loser and you feel his rage. Second, the Prince, without whom there would be no story, did not make me want to fall asleep... actually they made me want to watch the performance over and over again! The Prince made me feel for this group of people, they made me care. Something that completely got me invested from start to finish! They also merged the comic relief characters into one, justifying less cast members and as such there was no need to make a useless story line about detectives or body guards... she alone held the story together by being the one who causes turmoil and thus is also the only one who can set it right (having the evidence in hand). Above all there was a sex change and Don John was a woman, and to quote them "You are the only one who can do it justice!", and she was perfect... And finally, I did not feel that Beatrice and Benedick got together because it was already written in the script... See, a group of university students made a better rendition of this classic than the wonderful Whedon and I have no understanding of why people liked this movie... I just give up. 

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