Seating myself in my local theatre (called The Globe), I suffered through the trailers (Pacific Rim the only gem, and I geeked out over Idris Elba and Ron Perlman), and then was treated to a black-and-white scene before my eyes, the grayscale of delicate tones that immediately had me in the mood for Shakespeare. Then came the names, the quick dialogue, and the adapting. This is true of any Shakespeare play, and the trick is to not work so hard at it. Let the dialogue come at you, pay attention, but don't strain yourself. Tossed into the world, I embraced it, and quickly discovered I was not focusing on it so much, that while I was not getting all of the dialogue, the body language of the characters, their expressions, and the highly emotive responses made this transition much easier. This is also a charm of this onscreen-play - its humour! The actors fell into their roles with abandon, whether that be villainous dark purpose, or comic relief, each actor, even with only moments of screen time played their roles to delight the audience. The physical humour by Amy Acker (Beatrice) and Alexis Denisof (Benedick) stole the show. Sometimes you have the main characters outshone by the supporting cast, but here it felt like these two were front and centre (as they should be), the rest of the cast only making them shine brighter. Even Nathan Fillion (Dogberry) with his easy comedy that he does so well, is hilarious, but is just another piece in the puzzle of that made this movie so much fun to watch.
The strengths are built up from Shakespeare's play, but capitalized by Joss Whedon's acting directions, music, scene setting, and power of adaptation. Whatever the actors have in terms of Shakespearian acting was outdone by their just plain old good acting. I can see the elements of all the characters in their roles previous to this one, and after seeing this, I can say that it was only a small leap over a only-slightly-dangerous-canyon that Joss Whedon made, the play playing on his strengths.
I recommend to everyone that you go and see this movie. And I need to give props to Sean Maher (Don John) for playing his dark brooding villainous role. It felt like he was drawing you into his conspiracy whenever he was on the screen, and that you could not resist his call to arms to perform dastardly deeds on his behalf.