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Elizabeth: The Golden Age
4 reviews

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Movie Details

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Directed By
Shekhar Kapur

Written By:
Michael Hirst, William Nicholson

Cate Blanchett, Morne Botes, Abbie Cornish, Jazz Dhiman, Tom Hollander, Rhys Ifans, Jordi Molla, Samantha Morton, Clive Owen, Geoffrey Rush, Eddie Redmayne, Adam Godley, Dave Legeno, Christian Brassington, Coral Beed, Robert Cambrinus, Jeremy Barker, Hayley Burroughs, Robert Cambrinus, Luke Mowatt, Vidal Sancho

Elizabeth: The Golden Age (2007)
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Movie Review by Jarrod
October 13th, 2007

Out of all the sequels that have been released this year, 'Elizabeth: The Golden Age' is perhaps the most surprising. One just does not expect a follow-up to an artsy historical drama. Yet, here it is, directed once again by Shekhar Kapur, and with Cate Blanchett reprising the title role, for which she earned an Oscar nod back in 1998. Blanchett is still exquisite as Elizabeth I, but this movie simply is not as good as its predecessor, it is more an exercise in opulence and style, than it is of narrative, and it seems to spend most of its time admiring and meditating on its own sumptuous beauty, with elegant costumes, appropriately authentic, lots of ruffles and long dresses, there is never a sense that we are anyplace other than late 16th century England. In the first Elizabeth, she had just become queen and was dealing with potential assassins. This time, she has many of the same problems, only she has to face Spain, and its king, Philip II (Jordi Molla), who wants to reclaim Britain for Catholicism, and remove Elizabeth from the throne. Philip II is supported by the Vatican, and he has a huge armada that he plans to send to English shores.

Of course, we know that his famed Armada is destroyed in 1588, but he doesn't know, so he is more than confident that his fleet can crush Elizabeth's, which admittedly is less impressive. As a successor, there is Mary, Queen of Scots (Samantha Morton), Elizabeth's Catholic cousin, who eventually loses her head. This is part two, if you will, in the saga of Elizabeth's life and reign. Maybe a third installment would profile her death, in 1603, and her nurturing of some of England's greatest literary figures, Shakespeare, Marlowe, and Ben Jonson among them, though Shakespeare would thrive even more fully under James I, whose most famous and significant contribution is a translation of the Bible.

Elizabeth I was 52 years old when these events took place, yet she looks young and vibrant, which is probably how she should look. Blanchett is 38, so she isn't that close to Elizabeth's real age at the time, but this really doesn't matter. Clive Owen is Walter Raleigh, the dashing man Elizabeth falls for, or at least becomes romantically interested in. Raleigh is shown here as an action hero of sorts, the kind you would see in old Erroll Flynn swashbucklers, he was more of a poet than a warrior, but then accuracy on these historical matters is not a top priority in Hollywood. Raleigh was an explorer, and he discovered, among other things, the first colony in a place he called Virginia, but this is never really discussed in great detail, because Drake is here only to provide thrills, another strong and flamboyant personality to stand alongside that of Elizabeth's. A love triangle of sorts starts to develop, as Raleigh knocks up Elizabeth Throckmorton (Abbie Cornish), Elizabeth's lady-in-waiting, and Elizabeth is none too happy about it.

Geoffrey Rush returns as Sir Francis Walsingham, one of Elizabeth's loyal advisers, who is urging her to marry, but he is not that significant. The entire conflict with Spain is dealt with bloodlessly (to satisfy the limits of a PG-13 rating), and is not even recreated much at all, mainly the build-up to it, the political and religious tensions, some sea battles, but nothing as epic as you would find in Master and Commander. A fine but generic drama on most accounts, 'The Golden Age' will remind you how good of an actress Blanchett is, but also remind you that she was better the first time around. I would also have to mention the fine work of Samantha Morton, whose portrayal of Mary is sensational.

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