No one does Shakespeare like Kenneth Branagh. His Hamlet and Henry V are masterpieces and his Much Ado About Nothing is one of the most delightful films you will ever see. The reason why his adaption work rising above the others out there is that he makes the stories, characters and language feel real. Sure he's also a master film maker with a beautiful eye and visual style but his greatest strength is his ability to relate the bard's work to the modern ear.
He takes the gender-bending, Three's Company like farce As You Like It and sets it in the forests of Imperial Japan. This is another gorgeous to look at film, but honestly, the true strength is how he imbues the story with a strong familiarity. It will make you laugh and cry and forget you are watching dialog written 400 years ago. It's timeless and perfect.
He works amazing performances out of his cast including newbies Bryce Dallas Howard, Kevin Klein, Ramola Garai, Alfred Molina and Janet McTeer as well as Branagh regulars like RIchard Briers, Brian Blessed, and Adrian Lester. He gets them into a rhythm that makes the language fall out of their mouths naturally and the plot flow like a rollicking adventure.
He manages to work some wuxia into the mix without overdoing it and making it silly. He also highlights the tragedy and romance that is a Shakespeare staple. Overall he has made another successful adaptation and I would be happy if this is all he did forever. Please Mr. Branagh make more Shakespeare adaptations.