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on 6 October 2009
There are plenty of detailed critiques of the performances and production on here which I won't attempt to emulate; this review is rather for the casual browser who is hovering around the 'add to basket' button. So - Yes! I bought this at a price pretty much equivalent to rental - and I would heartily recommend it as great value and good entertainment. It has its weaknesses - the DVD transfer is not particularly high quality (I'd like to see a fully restored, Blu-Ray version) and has no supplementary material. Of the performances, only Keanu Reeeves' is really dubious - he brings to the part of John the Bastard an impressive physique and little else. There's also some of that rather cloying best buddies quality that accompanies Branagh's core troupe. However, overall it trips along with a light touch and is very entertaining - genuinely so on the strength of the play, not just for the interest of the interpretation. The cinematography and scenery are superb (though again, some colour restoration would have helped, and some of the cast had gone very pink in the Italian sun!). I enjoyed Keaton's perfomance as Dogberry, though I struggled to hear everything he said, and it did remind me of Beetlejuice. I'd forgotten how luminously beautiful and engaging the young Kate Beckinsale was before she became Hollywood Barbie (sigh..), and was very impressed by the naturalness of Denzel Washington's delivery, as Branagh's integration of US actors sometimes jars.

You don't have to be a Shakespeare fanatic to enjoy this, but there is equally plenty there to satisfy the enthusiast. Hit that button!
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on 2 December 2012
I wish we had been able to watch this version of Much Ado way back in the early eighties, when it was part of my English Lit A level, because Ken Branagh (ably assisted by his then wife Emma Thompson) really knows how to bring Shakespeare alive. I remember having an argument with my teacher, who felt that Benedick and Beatrice had been tricked into marriage - to me, it was obvious from their very first lines together that they are in love, even if they don't realise it at the beginning.

Keanu Reeves plays an excellent villain - he has just the face for it! What did puzzle me greatly, however, was Denzel Washington could be his brother. I'm certainly not being racist, but wouldn't a black man be unlikely to be in such a position as he was at that time in Italy? If he were, we could surely expect some comment in the script, as happened in Othello. As for Michael Keaton and Ben Elton with their imaginary horses ... superbly played! "And do not forget ... I am an ass!" Every one of the main characters was an A list actor.

Beautifully shot, lush countryside, fabulous acting by all - you'd be mad to miss it, even if you only rent a copy.
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on 5 November 2006
Kenneth Branagh's adaption of Much Ado About Nothing is a sheer delight to watch. I first saw it six years ago to prepare for a performance of it at school. The whole class fell in love with the film and while it may fall behind Hamlet or Romeo and Juliet in pure greatness, it soars ahead in sheer fun and exuberance.

As with Hamlet from 3 years later, the set is moved forward a few hundred years which just gives a fresh and vibrant touch to the film. Branagh himself plays Benedick and the chemistry between him and his (then) wife Emma Thompson as Beatrice makes you wonder why they could ever have split up. It is the war of words between these two that provide some of the main highlights of the film, especially their initial exchange:

Benedick: 'God keep your lady in that so some man may 'scape a pre-destinate scratched face'.

Beatrice: 'Scratching could not make it worse onto such a face as yours'.

Benedick: 'Well you are a rare parrot teacher'.

Beatrice: 'A bird of my tongue is better than a beast of your tongue'

Benedick: 'I wish my horse had the speed of your tongue'.

Branagh is also not afraid to throw in American actors and their effect ranges from the fish in water (Denzel Washington's Don Pedro), to the aquittable Keanu Reeves to the outstanding thespian but altogether too Yankee Robert Sean Leonard. However the real American star of the film is Michael Keaten with his sidekick Ben Elton who give a Monty Pythonesque twist to Dogsberry and Verges.

Branagh directs the film with style and his choice of music is outstanding. The all-star cast deliver as expected and it all adds up to one of my alltime favourite films.

One little criticism is the actual DVD itself. There are no extras whatsoever; it would have been nice to hear Branagh's views on the film. And although the scene selection by 'act' is quaint, it is annoying trying to find one particular scene.

Do not let that disuade you though, watching this film on a flip book while listening to it on tape would be enough. It is a beautifully written and performed play.
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on 3 August 2009
Kenneth Branagh has produced an excellent dramatisation of this play. Well cast and filmed in a beautiful Italian location it has all the sparkle and wit you would expect from one of his productions.

As an introduction to Shakepeare, perhaps for someone who is unfamiliar with his works, or for someone studying the book for GCSE or A-Level, it works extremely well (which I believe was Branagh's intention in popularising Shakespeare through his productions).
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on 20 November 2013
The acting was not only brilliant but it was filmed outside in France. The sun was shinning, the actors were getting sun kissed and the whole thing was up lifting. I understood the Bard perfectly through this film. A must for anybody doing exams about the theatre, the Bard or history.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 12 June 2017
An absolute delight. Beautifully directed and with the exception of Ben Elton & Michael Keaton as Dogberry and Verges and a "one trick pony" from Keanu Reeves - exceptionally well acted. This is a nice print although not as good as a 70mm should be perhaps but still perfectly adequate. It brings a clarity and immediacy to Shakespere that means it can be appreciated by a wide (fairly!) audience! Filled with energy and clever ideas it does not try to be a showcase for the director but trusts the play itself. What a pleasure that is!
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on 10 March 2014
Excellent film/ Delivery ok (as far as I can remember). Amazon have produced each time and I do recommend your business.
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on 18 February 2015
Kenneth Branagh adaptations always have something what does not belong into Ito edit Shakespeare or and something what is missing - as he would like to edit or abridge Reader digested . The acting is overriding meaning for Audience to see it.
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on 30 December 2013
Excellent. Prompt delivery and so enjoyable to watch and be transported to a different world. Pure escapism and it will be watched again and again.
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on 22 August 2014
Good quality, played well. Arrived on time
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