Joss Whedon’s jazzy, black-and-white version of Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing” is going down smooth as silk with reviewers. The film, which Whedon shot at his Santa Monica home in a 12-day period before “Avengers” post-production began, is easily the critical winner for the weekend.
Which, admittedly, isn’t hard. The latest Vince Vaughn-Owen Wilson man-child endeavor, “The Internship,” is being slammed as profoundly unfunny, while Ethan Hawke is taking a bit of a bruising post-“Before Midnight” with bloody thriller “The Purge,” which is receiving mediocre scores.
Meanwhile, Brian De Palma’s “Passion,” starring Rachel McAdams and Noomi Rapace as a boss and protegee caught up in some psycho-sexual game-playing, is sitting with some of the poorest critical reactions of the weekend. Anna Kendrick-Craig Robinson apocalyptic comedy “Rapturepalooza” also isn’t hitting the mark, and is being overshadowed critically by Seth Rogen’s upcoming apocalyptic comedy “This Is the End” (June 12).
Aside from “Much Ado,” the weekend openers are bleak, but micro-release documentaries “Evocateur: The Morton Downey Jr. Story” and “Hey Bartender” are worth hunting down. You might be better served tracking down Oscar-nominated doc “Chasing Ice,” a riveting and dramatic portrait of National Geographic photographer and climate activist James Balog which Cinedigm released on multiple digital platforms on June 4.
Chasing Ice Dir: Jeff Orlowski, USA | Cinedigm | Cast: James Balog | 96% fresh | Time Out: “Still an eco-sceptic? Clap your eyes on this lot. Awe-inspiring, terrifying, transcendently beautiful, and absolutely weighted with significance for the future of the planet.” | Our TOH! interview with Orlowski
Much Ado About Nothing Dir. Joss Whedon, USA | Lionsgate | Cast: Alexis Denisof, Amy Acker, Clark Gregg, Fran Kranz, Jillian Morgese, Nathan Fillion | 81% Fresh | The New York Times: “From its very first scenes, Mr. Whedon’s film crackles with
a busy, slightly wayward energy that recalls the classic romantic sparring of
the studio era.” | Our TOH! review | Immersed in Movies: “Much Ado About” Shooting Shakespeare in Black-and-White
The Purge Dir. James DeMonaco, USA | Universal Pictures | Cast: Ethan Hawke, Lena Headey | 43% Rotten | Total Film: “James DeMonaco’s blood-splattered thriller begins well before
expiring slowly from multiple improbabilities.”
The Internship Dir. Shawn Levy, USA | Twentieth Century Fox | Cast: Owen Wilson, Vince Vaughn | 33% Rotten | Variety: “This big-hearted underdog comedy from director Shawn Levy
is, much like its two leads, exceedingly affable and good-natured despite being
undeniably long in the tooth.” | Our TOH! review
Rapture-Palooza Dir. Paul Middleditch, USA | Lionsgate | Cast: Anna Kendrick, Craig Robinson | 30% Rotten | Los Angeles Times: “Chris Matheson’s script focuses its energy on small,
wickedly funny gags, half of which Robinson seems to have sputtered out as
Passion Dir. Brian De Palma, USA | Entertainment One | Cast: Rachel McAdams, Noomi Rapace | 25% Rotten | Indiewire: “Passion simultaneously parodies its plot while elevating it
to a strangely involving exercise in cinematic drama. The filmmaker has either
lost control of the material or maintains the same calculation of his
protagonists. But the entertainment value associated with that uncertainty is
the essence of his career.” | Our TOH! Q&A with Brian De Palma