ASPECT RATIO: 1.85:1 enhanced for widescreen televisions
RUNNING TIME: 111 minutes
AUDIO: English 2.0 Surround DTS-HD Master Audio, Spanish Dolby Surround, French Dolby Surround
SUBTITLES: English Subtitles for the Deaf and Hearing Impaired, Spanish, French
SPECIAL FEATURES: “The Making of Much Ado About Nothing” Featurette, Trailer
Shakespeare’s battle of the sexes plays out with several couples in the British countryside. An all-star cast, including Kenneth Branaugh, Denzel Washington, Keanu Reeves, Emma Thompson, Michael Keaton, and a very young Kate Beckinsale lead the cast.
Adapted for the screen and directed by Kenneth Branaugh.
An all-star cast brings Shakespeare’s bawdy, breezy comedy to the big screen. Some people don’t care for the rhythm of of Shakespeare’s verbiage, and others don’t care for movies that try to adapt him. In the case of Much Ado, Kenneth Branaugh masterfully reigns in Shakespeare’s words and makes his play highly entertaining cinema. Yes, the casting of Denzel, Keaton, and especially Keanu is distracting at times, but for the most part, they make it work. Branaugh keeps the tone light, so even the implausible exchanges and plot twist (for those who haven’t read the play or seen the movie, I won’t spoil it) don’t drag the proceedings down.
I think sometimes we forget how relevant Shakespeare can be, and how much he has contributed to our language, even today. Those two reasons alone are good enough to take in this wonderful adaptation.
VIDEO AND AUDIO
The video transfer quickly for the 1993 film was surprisingly less than I expected. There was considerable grain, and the print was not cleaned fully. Lint and specks can be seen throughout the film. The film has a deliberately soft look, so the image won’t be as sharp as some may like, but there is some good clarity and colors are bright.
The audio is 2.0 surround DTS, and while it isn’t up to par with current sound film mixes, it is clear enough to catch everything that is being said, which is the most important thing. At the very least, it does not distract from the film presentation.
The special features consist of a behind-the-scenes featurette and a trailer. All of the major actors participate in interviews in the featurette, which makes it interesting (albeit short), but it is essentially a promotional piece made at the time of production. Nothing new has been produced for the Blu-ray, which is disappointing. A few more extras would have helped.
BUY IT OR NETFLIX IT?
OVERALL GRADE: B
I’m not a rapid Shakespeare fan by any means, but I love Much Ado About Nothing. I want my summer blockbusters as much as the next guy, but when they let you down, movies like this can lift you right back up.
Even with a sub-standard video transfer and a lack of extras, I recommend this Blu-ray as a “buy” if you can find it at a good price. Good movies like this should always be close at hand. Better yet, it should be required viewing for young viewers being raised on terrible CGI action flicks and profane modern comedies. We all need a little “nonny-nonny” now and then.
Much Ado About Nothing is now available on Blu-ray from Fox Home Video.