Published Oct 30, 2013Crackling with playful energy perfectly suited to Shakespeare's typically witty, comparatively low-key romantic comedy, Joss Whedon's modernization of Much Ado About Nothing draws its vitality from the intimate group dynamic of a fully invested cast and crew. Clearly, these charming professionals are having a great deal of fun in every frame, and that sort of effervescent commitment to craft is infectious.
Whedon transplants this story of intertwining passion and deceit from the highborn courts of old to the modern equivalent — a socialite house party. The celebrated writer shows off his directing chops, inserting comedy, shifting subtext and adding complexity to a previously one-dimensional harlot, all via choices made behind the camera. Other than altering an anti-Semitic punch line, the Serenity scribe didn't presume to do much rewriting of the Bard, but he fully embraces the responsibilities of presenting his personal vision of a story intended to be reinterpreted visually with each production.
As fans have come to expect, the mind behind Firefly doesn't skimp on special features. This DVD release is graced with an immensely entertaining collection of bonus features, including multiple commentary tracks and behind-the-scenes tomfoolery sure to delight those that appreciate Whedon's unpretentious yet artful mix of high and low brow humour. "Much Ado About Making Nothing" sees the clever brain daddy of Buffy the Vampire Slayer explaining how he came to think that shooting a black and white Shakespeare movie during a brief bit of down time following The Avengers was a good idea.
Any devout follower of the Whedonverse will be utterly unsurprised that the chemistry between Amy Acker and Alexis Denisof had everything to do with the decision to make what started as a casual weekend reading group into a feature film. They are utterly phenomenal as obstinate suitors too busy butting heads to recognize what's right in front of them. Acker, in particular, gives a performance as passionate and nuanced as any this year. Were the Oscars not so commercially driven, she'd find herself nominated.
Each and every member of the vast cast of familiar faces has nothing but praise for the director, excited by any opportunity to work with such a generous personality. Throughout this lengthy peek behind-the-scenes, cast members, including Nathan Fillion and Clark Gregg, pop up to add their impressions of the process to Whedon's thoughtful discourse on his methodology. We get an even greater sense of the wacky camaraderie among this crew during "Bus Ado About Nothing," a mostly candid feature following a group excursion to SXSW for the film's premier. They rented a bus, rock star-style, to travel to Texas, and being a bunch of performers, plenty of footage was shot of impromptu skits and dance parties.
Also included is a music video using footage of the Stebben Twins' acrobatics for the Whedon-composed "Sigh No More," along with two fantastic commentary tracks. In one, Whedon discusses every decision made for the project in great detail, with few digressions. The other is nothing but digressions of the most amusing kind. Inebriated and boisterous, nearly ever cast member shows up to play a drinking game with their host and encourage home viewers to participate. It's not the most coherent commentary track ever, but it's certainly one of the funniest. (eOne)