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Much Ado About Nothing

4.5 out of 5 stars 638 customer reviews


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Editorial Reviews

Shakespeare's Don Pedro pairs Benedick and Beatrice and woos Hero for Claudio around a lively Italian villa.

Special Features

  • Making-of featurette

Product Details

  • Actors: Kenneth Branagh, Michael Keaton, Robert Sean Leonard, Keanu Reeves, Emma Thompson
  • Directors: Kenneth Branagh
  • Writers: Kenneth Branagh, William Shakespeare
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Anamorphic, Closed-captioned, Color, Dubbed, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround), French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround), Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
  • Dubbed: Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: MGM (Video & DVD)
  • DVD Release Date: January 7, 2003
  • Run Time: 111 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (638 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0000714BZ
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,648 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Much Ado About Nothing" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
Since his Oscar-nominated "Henry V" adaptation, Kenneth Branagh has come up with a simple, effective recipe: Blend 3 parts English actors well-versed in all things "Bard" with 1 or 2 parts Hollywood, sprinkle the mixture liberally over one of Shakespeare's plays, lift the material out of its original temporal and local context to provide an updated meaning, and garnish it by casting yourself and, until the mid-1990s, (then-)wife Emma Thompson in opposite starring roles.

In "Much Ado About Nothing," that formula works to near-perfection. A comedy of errors possibly written in one of the Bard's busiest years (1599) - although as usual, dating is a minor guessing game - "Much Ado" lives primarily from its timeless characters, making it an ideal object for transformation a la Branagh. Thus, renaissance Sicily becomes 19th century Tuscany (although the location's name, Messina, remains unchanged); and the intrigues centering around the battle of the sexes between Signor Benedick of Padua (Branagh) and Lady Beatrice (Thompson), the niece of Messina's governor Don Leonato (Richard Briers), and their love's labors won - initially the play's intended title; Benedick and Beatrice are a more liberated version of the earlier "Love's Labor's Lost"'s Biron and Rosaline - as well as the schemes surrounding the play's other couple, Benedick's friend Claudio (Robert Sean Leonard) and Beatrice's cousin Hero (Kate Beckinsale) become a light-hearted counterpoint to the more serious, politically charged intrigues of novels such as Stendhal's "Charterhouse of Parma:" Indeed, the military campaign from which Benedick and Claudio are returning with Don Pedro, Prince of Aragon (Denzel Washington) at the story's beginning could easily be one associated with Italy's 19th century struggle for nationhood.
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Format: DVD
"Much Ado About Nothing" is one of those sparkling adaptations that supposedly couldn't have been done. But Kennneth Branagh (director and star of "Hamlet," and creator of the supremely underrated "Midwinter's Tale") brought an all-star cast in a sparkling Tuscan setting, to bring this tale of bickering loves and sordid betrayals to life as never before.
The sullen Don John has just been stopped in a rebellion against his brother Don Pedro, by young hero Claudio. Now all of them (including Don John, whom his brother has forgiven) are arriving in Messina, the home of kindly Leonato. But when they get there, Claudio immediately falls in love with Leonato's beautiful daughter Hero. And despite the efforts of Don John, Don Pedro manages to get the two young lovers together and altar-bound.
But Don Pedro isn't willing to stop there. Hero's cousin Beatrice has a long-running feud with Claudio's pal Benedick -- they insult each other, they bicker, they argue about everything ("It is so indeed -- he is no less than a stuffed man!"). What's more, both of them swear to stay single forever. ("All women shall pardon me -- I shall live a bachelor!") Pedro and the others conspire to get Benedick and Beatrice to somehow fall in love with each other. And at first it seems that everything is going well -- until Don John manages to cast doubt on Hero's honor
There's a certain timeless quality to "Much Ado" -- not just the dialogue, but the simple costumes and the buildings in it. That leaves the audience free to pay more attention to the dialogue and its plot. And what a plot it is! "Much Ado" is brimming over with funny dialogue, dastardly plots, comedic supporting characters and weird pairings.
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2 Comments 85 of 92 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: VHS Tape
Yes, Keanu Reeves fits in to this Shakespearean production like a tuba player in a heavy metal band, but don't let that scare you off. His leaden delivery can't weigh down a movie this light and bubbly.
Branagh has outdone himself in this tale of young men and women in love. It is set in the gorgeous Italian countryside, all warm sunshine and bright colors. The actors positively glow with happiness and health.
Branagh plays an almost self-parodying arrogant ham with just the right note of swagger and hidden insecurity. His battles of wit with Emma Thompson's Beatrice bring some of Shakespeare's cleverest writing to vivid life. Denzel Washington makes for a truly regal prince, and Michael Keaton puts in a knee-slapping cameo as the Beetlejuice-ish Dogberry.
This is one of Shakespeare's best comedies and Branagh films it excellently, moving the plot along and keeping things light. The title is apt -- the problems the characters face aren't difficult to solve -- and Branagh thankfully doesn't take any of the proceedings too seriously.
This is Shakespeare as it was intended to be. It's not actors dressed in tights histrionically shouting lines; it's funny and vibrant with a strong pulse. It's a feel-great movie and not to be missed, by Shakespeare loyalists or by anybody else.
Comment 64 of 75 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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By A Customer on June 28, 1999
Format: DVD
Branagh is absolutely brilliant. After watching Much Ado About Nothing, I could not believe that anyone could take a work of Shakespeare and infuse it with so much life and vitality! I have watched the movie tens of times and I laugh harder and longer everytime I see it. Michael Keaton is hilarious as the ignorant sherriff, and Thompson(Beatrice) and Branagh(Benedick) are even funnier. I almost hated to see them get together. Denzel - what can I say? I have heard great reviews about all the actors and actresses; however, Keanu Reeves seems to get slam dunked in nearly every one. Though he certainly is not the hottest man around, his seemingly mechanical and irritating style is perfect for the role of the evil brother. This role was tailored for him - EVERYONE loves to hate him. That is exactly the response that Branagh wanted his audience to have!! If you have never read any of Shakespeare's works, see one of Branagh's films. The language is spoken so beautifully and effortlessly, that you won't hate Shakespearan language ever again.
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