LA Weekly Review

Shakespeare was 30 when he wrote Titus Andronicus, and quite apart from
bristling with the sort of gruesomely inventive, melodramatic bloodshed one
associates with our own first-time filmmakers, it vividly prefigures the
themes and characters of the Bard's mature tragedies. Before she became
better known for taking Disney's The Lion King to Broadway, theater director
Julie Taymor made her reputation mounting Titus onstage, using abstract,
surrealist masks of her own brilliant design. Now -- The Lion King's clout
having paved the way -- she translates her vision to film (her first, a
terrific debut), mixing masks, ancient ruins and modern high-rises to
complement the fiery, disobedient spirit that marked early Shakespeare.
Anthony Hopkins is Titus, the victorious Roman general who snubs the people's
offer to make him emperor -- a cavalier gesture that costs him dearly. The
queen of the Goths -- whom Titus wronged when she was his captive -- is
suddenly raised to the station of Roman empress, and Jessica Lange enacts
this avenger with every ounce of fury and beauty in her arsenal. The theme
that power, justly earned, should never be shrugged off foretells Lear.
Taymor has done an inspired job of resurrecting one of Shakespeare's
unruliest works, just in time for the new century.

--F.X. Feeney