For Reel


Much Ado About Nothing (1993)
August 16, 2017, 3:34 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Kenneth Branagh
4 Stars
Much Ado About NothingKenneth Branagh’s adaptation of this Shakespeare comedy ranks as one of the most clever adaptations of the bard’s plays, wisely condensing and rearranging much of the material in order to suit it better to the medium. It is also the most inconsistently cast—little good can be said about Keanu Reeves’ performance, which finds no motivation for Don John’s actions throughout the story, and even Michael Keaton’s admittedly amusing turn as Dogberry is so outlandish and distracting that one is shocked that Branagh fails to rein in him. Despite these pitfalls, however, Branagh’s delightful indulgence of the idyllic vistas and eroticism injects the adaptation with a sense of urgency and excitement that the play deserves. Branagh also uses the medium to add insight into certain character motivations—Don Pedro’s (Denzel Washington) flirtation with Beatrice (Emma Thompson), for example, is given an intimacy and sincerity that distinguishes the man as the play’s most quietly tragic figure (in the play, on the other hand, one might interpret Pedro’s flirtation as being a simple jest). Similarly, the scenes in which Beatrice and Benedick (Branagh) are fooled into loving one another intelligently focus on the vulnerabilities of the key figures as much as they do the inherent comedy of the scene.

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Thor (2011)
May 27, 2011, 8:57 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Kenneth Branagh

In my short tenure as a comic book fan, Thor was the superhero that I took the biggest liking to. Rather than being a self-serious and cynical series, the books were almost surrealist and obscure – his is a familiar fish-out-of-water story that just happens to star a Norse God space alien. Branagh’s adaptation captures the tone of the series and wisely sees the comedic potential in it without neglecting the familiar narrative stakes of a summer blockbuster. It is also pleasurable to see a super hero movie without a drawn-out origin story – Thor is an established figure from the first frame, and his relationship with his fellow Asgardians suggests a mythical history that the audience can interpret for themselves. Although the film ultimately caves in to too many familiar genre cliches (the “Destroyer” – essentially a giant robot – makes an appearance in a particularly recycled sequence), as schlocky, low-brow summer entertainment, it is an amusing guilty pleasure.