TIFF 2012: Much Ado About Nothing and the Whedon Phenomenon

Posted by Sandstorm in Movies, Reviews, Uncategorized on September 16th, 2012.
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Joss Whedon shows off his versatility once again in this near perfect adaptation of the play by Shakespeare.

I just have to admit it: I was never much of a Whedonite. Up until one or two years ago I didn’t even know who he was. That changed when I got wind of the whole Firefly story from of a Whedonite friend of mine. Suddenly I began to see Whedon’s name popping up on all the sites I visited and came to the conclusion that his man apparently made entertainment for my specific demographic. After my friend kept nagging me to see Firefly and hearing him and the whole of the internet say that this was such a great show, I finally got intrigued and ordered the boxset.

I was disappointed. Not that the series was bad, but it wasn’t the revolution I had expected. That being said, I watched all the episodes in a 2 day period, so apparently it did something well. As the interaction between the crewmembers was good, and the characters were great I did for a full 100% understand why people were outraged by the cancellation of the show. It had massive potential. While I did want to see the movie Serenity afterwards, I wasn’t that blown away by the series that I immediately bought it or began watching any of his other series. It was good, but didn’t floor me.

More recently I got to see Cabin in the Woods, written and produced by Joss Whedon. This movie gave me another push in the Whedonite direction. Great characters and a clever take on the horror genre made this movie one of my highlights of the year. Shortly thereafter of course, The Avengers was released and once again great characterization and humor resulted in a great movie experience that caused everyone in the theater to leave with a smile on their face. That’s a talent. But still, I wasn’t THAT into Joss Whedon that it made me order Serenity and Dollhouse and made me interested in Buffy.


Whedonites assemble!

On a quiet afternoon at work I was just browsing the internet when I found out the Toronto International Film Festival had begun the day before. A couple of months earlier I looked on the website to see what was playing and if I could already buy tickets. I saw at that time that the new Joss Whedon movie was going to be shown, but as I couldn’t buy a single ticket on the spot for that movie and did not know if I would have the time to watch more than a couple, I figured I would check back later and forget it about for that time.

And forget about it I did.

When I did discover that the festival had started however, I decided to see if there were some nice movie premieres where I could go to do some Star spotting. Because hey, probably I wouldn’t be in such a prime position to experience the whole Hollywood vibe and all the crazy stuff surrounding it like this again. So while I checked the schedule for some red carpet premieres, Much Ado About Nothing caught my eye again and I looked if there were tickets left for a screening of the movie. There were, but only for a day screening on a Friday. Very much intrigued, but not blown away by his work, I figured I would go and check out the red carpet premiere of this movie (alongside others) to see the director and the actors, and then decide if I would buy the ticket. 

When I came to the premiere, I found myself surrounded by some hardcore Whedonites carrying Buffy books, Firefly comics and Dollhouse DVDs. One girl even carried a Captain America shield with her. When all the actors and actresses arrived it occurred to me that the majority of the actors in these movies played roles in Whedon’s older projects as they were all signing the aforementioned books and DVDs. While all of this took place I was just standing there enjoying this devout fandom. Whedon himself arrived quite late and therefore probably did not sign anything. The fan reaction however was great and somewhat inspiring. Whedonites are something special in their own right and this experience made me decide that I was going to see this movie the week later. 


So what about the movie?

That decision was a great one. Let’s begin by saying that the venue, the Elgin Theatre, was worth the visit in itself. Old elevators that take you down to the washrooms, beautiful red carpets on the floor, golden details, in short: it’s a beauty. During the introduction it became clear that once again Whedonites surrounded me. Cheers arose from the crowd during the introduction when Firefly and Buffy were mentioned and even the programmer who introduced the movie lauded Whedon for his work, saying something along the lines of Whedon being the one of the best and original creators of this time. All of this resulted in a great atmosphere to watch a movie in. 

And what a movie it was. Presented in black and white and featuring the original text of the play Much Ado About Nothing by Shakespeare, this movie tells a story about the relations between members of two or three factions (or families) and all the consequences they have. The majority of the story is, ofcourse, about love and in particular, about love between Beatrice (Amy Acker) and Benedick (Alexis Denisof), whose relationship is what you can call a difficult one. 

I’m going to keep it at that concerning the plot for two reasons. First as I’m not a native English speaker, at times the exact plotpoints were a bit difficult to follow as everything was in Old English, without subs. Secondly, because the story isn’t the most interesting part of the movie.

The genius of this movie lies in the wording of the dialogue, courtesy of Shakespeare and the way Whedon manages to bring that to life and enhances it. The interpretation is simply top notch. The timing of all the jokes is exquisite and the details he puts in the actions of the characters when they don’t have lines all result in increased comprehension of the situation and more laughs. In addition to that, he uses the modern setting in a great way to add even more jokes and details to the piece in a way that you don’t see very often and Seldomly have I been to a movie where laughs were so consistent. What is even more impressive is that he manages this while the whole movie is spoken in old English. Whedon makes you understand what Shakespeare meant, even if you don’t exactly get the finer details of the text. A huge achievement.

The performances of the cast were also of a great level throughout the movie. They all had great diction and performances that guided you through the lines. Especially the very imaginative insults were carried over with much verve. Crowd favorite Nathan Fillion and Tom Lenk deserve a special mention as their performance of two “police officers” were nothing short of hilarious. Of course not all is fun and games in this play. There is some drama present, but it’s never too much. The source material is written in such a way, that every time the movie takes a darker turn, it lightens up quite quickly afterwards. The darker sequences only make you pine for the characters more, leaving you to want them to get the ending they deserve. it’s probably because I’m an emotional wreck (Pixar gets me everytime) but the ending did give me goosebumps.


To be or not to be (a Whedonite)

So yeah, sorry for that, but the answer to that question for me is probably yes. While I’m not such a die-­‐hard Whedonite that I would read all the comics yet, this movie got me to a point that I seriously want to get my hands on more of Whedon’s previous work. It says a lot that he has such a devout fan-­‐base and a group of great actors who keep coming back to work with him. But above all, a director who can make a good space western, a great horror movie, an excellent Super Hero movie an a near perfect Shakespeare adaptation is something special. Period. I really hope that this movie gets a worldwide theatrical release. It’s one of those films that just conjure a smile on your face that you can’t wipe off until a couple of hours after movie. For me this was one of the most memorable cinema experiences I had.

So, go and see the movie!






3 Responses to “TIFF 2012: Much Ado About Nothing and the Whedon Phenomenon”

  1. […] enjoying my first TIFF experience very much (read the review here) I decided to check out another screening before the festival ended. That movie was Tai Chi 0. From […]

  2. […] Nothing. In short, it was totally awesome and if you want to read more about it just check it out here. After that great experience (I can wholly recommend anyone to see a movie in the Elgin Theatre!) I […]

  3. Nestor Moss says:

    Whedon, who created “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Angel” and wrote and directed Marvel’s upcoming ” The Avengers ,” wrote and directed the movie, an individual close to the project told TheWrap Sunday night.

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