Shakespeare's "Titus Andronicus" comes to live under the direction of Julie Taymor, the creator of Broadway's "The Lion King" production. Where Taymor excelled in bringing Disney's children's movie to life, she fails miserably in halfway modernizing Titus.
The movie starts out with a normal, suburban boy playing with plastic soldiers, and suddenly an explosion crashes through the kitchen. A man comes in, saves him, and pulls him outside, and they are suddenly in the Roman Coliseum. Titus only gets stranger from there. Taymor combines ancient Rome with semi-modern technology and style; sometimes the characters are wearing Roman armor, other times a business suit. Some ride horses, other drive motorcycles. Duct tape exists, as do microphones.
Some movies are successful by being weird. William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet modernized that love story without losing much of the original's impact. Here, Taymor becomes so obsessed with making Titus twisted and strange that she forgets that there is an audience that has to watch this three-hour movie. I wasn't able to watch the whole thing because it is just so messed up.
Titus has a good cast, consisting of Anthony Hopkins, Jessica Lange, and Alan Cumming, and they do a good job, but that is about all that can be said positively about this waste of time.
I would love to watch these actors perform Shakespeare, even "Titus Andronicus," but not when the movie is so consumed with weird visuals. In some cases, simplicity is best, and Taymor should have stuck with what Shakespeare gave her.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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