So Shakespeare has nothing to do with science fiction. And besides the cast and crew, Joss Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing has nothing to do with science fiction either. But nerds can have culture too, dammit, and you should really see this film. If the involvement of Joss Whedon, Nathan Fillion, etc. are all that motivates you to watch one of Shakespeare’s comedies then so be it. Even if Wedon had not been involved and the end result was the same, you should give it a chance.
We tend to think of Shakespeare in terms of the costumes and stage and a people speaking a funny form of English that we sometimes have a rough time understanding. The trick is to experience these plays with knowing the context of the time and language that they were originally performed in. We might not get all the references but if we pay attention, we can understand. And when we understand we can make it easier for other people to understand. And that is what Joss Whedon attempted and what I feel he accomplished. This new version of Much Ado About Nothing is set in the contemporary world. It is in black and white, but the cloths, homes, cars, etc. are modern. The only thing that is the same is the language. But that shouldn’t stop you from understanding and getting what is going on.
Baz Luhrmann successfully pulled off a modern interpretation with his Romeo And Juliet. The actors in both of these films do is not just stiffly recite lines, they convey the emotion behind the language. To simplify, if you saw a couple fighting in a different language, the woman being more aggressive and the man pleading and being more meek, chances are he did something wrong. You wouldn’t know what is being said, but you know what is happening. Shakespear writes in a version of the English language that we are not used to hearing, but the actors in Much Ado About Nothing, in how they speak their lines, translate what they are saying through their tone and body language so that we do understand the fighting, the sorrow, and the humor. We might not catch every line, but we are still in on the joke.
Much Ado About Nothing works because the people in from of and behind the cameras took pride in their art and obviously enjoyed what they were doing. It wasn’t for the money. The film is only in limited release and may be there and gone within a few days of arriving at any given theater. Movie magic is not just found in special effects. It would be a shame to miss this magic in theaters before it is gone.