So apparently Joss Whedon directed an adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing while nobody was looking, and stuffed it, unsurprisingly, with Whedon alumni. Could be good, could be not; with Whedon I always reserve judgement until I see it, because Whedon’s stuff swings wildly along the quality arc for me. I also tend to reserve judgement on performances until I’ve seen them – that having been said, judging by this poster it looks like Amy Acker and Alexis Denisof are playing Beatrice and Benedick, and although you never know until you see the actual performance, my gut tells me these are two spectacular miscastings. I like both actors, but neither seems right for the part.
If I was going to describe Amy Acker’s specialty, it is in portraying characters who have at their core a sense of fragility to them: her characters always feel brittle and she’s very good at bringing that out of them, even if they are really quite tough when you get down to it (like, for example, Fred). But Beatrice isn’t a fragile character: she’s arguably the toughest of all of Shakespeare’s female protagonists, able to blast Benedick or outsnark Don Pedro with not an ounce of fear or worry in her.
As for Denisof: he plays characters that are, at their essence, clean-cut straight-man sorts, men who are creatures of society first and foremost, people who fit in. (Even when he plays later-years Wesley as a burnout, the influence is still there.) But Benedick isn’t that guy: Benedick is the direct forerunner of Han Solo. Benedick is a guy who actively spurns his best interests in society (marriage, being a proper gentleman as the rules of society dictate, going against his own boss if need be, etc.) and plays by his own conscience – and yes I know someone’s going to say something about Wesley here but the point is that there’s doing this sort of thing out of a sense of duty and doing it just because you want to. Nathan Fillion’s in this movie too, and he’s much more a Benedick than Denisof is.
But then again, Shakespeare wouldn’t be Shakespeare if people didn’t think they could take chances with it. So I’m curious to see how it goes. Presumably Claudio is impaled on something sharp in the final act.