Finally got around to watching Joss Whedon and Friends' version of "Much Ado About Nothing" (which, as copperbadge noted, is basically "Joss Whedon has some people over for dinner and then Shakespeare breaks out").
I think that the decision to use black and white was fascinating- and given that the Brannagh/Thompson version was so lushly colorful, it made sense. It also added to the vaguely mid-century feeling. I mean, it was clearly modern; people had smartphones and there was a very modern-looking photographer running around, but the overall vibe was definitely reminiscent of classic films from the 1940s and 50s, especially given that the soundtrack tended towards jazz.
The cast also played it straight, sticking to the script. There was one major addition- an opening scene of Beatrice and Benedict, which is sort of potentially hinted at later by Beatrice but never stated outright; not sure how I feel about the decision to have them have had a one-night stand. I mean, yes, she DOES later say that she had lent him her heart, etc., and in the modern context it makes sense to say, "Oh, that clearly means that they had a one-night stand," but it does change the dynamic a bit.
Because they still had the "and the prince will now arrive with his fleet of black cars and guys with guns, having captured his evil half-brother and said evil half-brother's henchpeople" thing going on, it also kind of felt like this was a mafia story, which was interesting.
Claudio continues to be an utter ingenue character (is there a masculine form of that word?). Seriously. He's the kind of guy who would elicit, "Well, bless his heart" from people across the American South. I did fully realize this time in a way that I hadn't before that of COURSE Prince John et. al. decide to throw a wrench into the wedding by framing Hero; Claudio has already shown himself to be utterly willing to believe whatever people tell him about the woman he loves.
Someday, I want to write a scene where you have the hapless male love interest and his superior being supposedly shown exactly how his true love is betraying him with another man only to have the love interest and her snarky female friend/relation show up and be all, "Good evening, what are you doing out in the... gaaaaah, who IS THAT IN MY ROOM AND WHAT ARE THEY DOING I AM GOING TO HAVE TO BLEACH EVERYTHING GAHHH." Mostly just to see the male characters' reactions, really, followed by the realization that perhaps they are being overly credulous idiots.
I also want to see something where the hapless male love interest then has to agree to a second marriage alliance as part of his "penance," only to either have the heroine turn him down flat or to have them have to make it work. That, of course, would require a heroine who was NOT Beatrice (who would pretty much devour Claudio alive, even if she weren't in love with Benedict).
Nathan Fillion was fantastic as Dogsbody, and clearly having a wonderful time-- his costume was a perfect mix of ill-fitting clothes and possibly the worst tie job I've ever seen. And he actually recited his dialogue with total seriousness and gravitas, which really brought out how completely ridiculous Dogsbody's lines are. Michael Keaton's portrayal was just as obsequious, but a lot more spazzy and frantic, which meant that the humor was about the physical portrayal even more than the nonsensical dialogue.
Beatrice and Benedict, very nicely done; still one of my favorite Shakespearean pairings.
Anyway; highly recommend it, planning on watching it with the commentary at some point, and now feel the urge to track down the earlier version (even though a large part of my reaction is wanting to smack Claudio upside the head).