108 of 120 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One Queen to Rule Them All
When we last left Elizabeth I (Cate Blanchett), she was young and inexperienced, struggling to come to terms with ruling a country. We now rejoin her in "Elizabeth: The Golden Age," which begins well into her reign; beginning in the year 1585, the film chronicles the growing tension between England and Spain and culminates with a fierce sea battle. It also examines the...
Published on October 12, 2007 by Chris Pandolfi
82 of 105 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Visual Feast, A Tedious Film
ELIZABETH: THE GOLDEN AGE isn't golden. Expectations were high after Cate Blanchett's first foray in 1998 as Elizabeth I, but somehow this follow-up film, with the same director (Shekhar Kapur) and writer (Michael Hirst with assistance from William Nicholson), does not reach those heights. Visually stunning, with an endless array of knockout costumes for Blanchett,...
Published on February 8, 2008 by Grady Harp
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108 of 120 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One Queen to Rule Them All,
When we last left Elizabeth I (Cate Blanchett), she was young and inexperienced, struggling to come to terms with ruling a country. We now rejoin her in "Elizabeth: The Golden Age," which begins well into her reign; beginning in the year 1585, the film chronicles the growing tension between England and Spain and culminates with a fierce sea battle. It also examines the relationship between Elizabeth and Sir Walter Raleigh (Clive Owen), an adventurous seafarer. What we're presented with is less of an actual account and more of a dramatic love story, which basically means that it isn't even close to being historically accurate. But I guess that isn't a bad thing, considering the film's more creative aspects--"The Golden Age" is a triumph of set and costume design, and the performances are top notch.
If only the story were at the same level. It would be too much to say that the plot isn't interesting; rather, it isn't interesting enough. Much of the material plays like a run of the mill romance, regardless of the time period. I just know that so much more defined Queen Elizabeth I, and I wish the filmmakers had given her character a little more depth. Not that she's completely shallow--if anything, quite a lot weighs heavy on her mind, not the least of which is her conniving cousin, Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots (Samantha Morton). Most of their rivalry stems from different religious faiths: Elizabeth is Protestant while Mary is Catholic. Hoping to take control of the throne, Mary conspires to have Elizabeth assassinated. Intercepting on Elizabeth's behalf is Sir Francis Walsingham (Geoffrey Rush), the Queen's most trusted advisor.
On Mary's side is Philip II (Jordi Mollà), King of Spain, who believes that Elizabeth has turned England into a godless country. He intends to conquer the Queen by sending a mighty armada, and the Spanish Inquisition along with it. Elizabeth understands that England's resources are depleted, as is its money; a counterattack will be much harder to plan and execute. Despite being incredibly strong-willed, something is holding her back, something that's diminishing her confidence. She seems to rely on Raleigh to soothe her, despite not knowing who he is or where he came from. All we do know is that he's arrived home from the New World, where he named a colony in honor of the Virgin Queen (Virginia). We've seen many films that make the Mysterious Stranger engaging or downright sexy--indeed, Raleigh is dashing, flirtatious, and bold. Just watch the way he presents potatoes and tobacco to Elizabeth.
Hoping to win favor with the Queen, Raleigh gets close to her favorite Lady in Waiting, Bess (Abbie Cornish), and it becomes obvious that his affections are divided between these two women. This plot device could have been much more interesting had it not been so cliché; I've seen romantic conflict before, and it's usually reserved for escapist films. But "The Golden Age" is historical in context. I wanted more focus on the impending Spanish attack, especially since it was so intertwined with Elizabeth's assassination plot. The final major sequence does feature some battle, but not enough to be satisfying. It's as if the film fizzles out after spending so much time building itself up. It's not entirely a letdown, but it is a disappointment. This is especially true of Elizabeth's pre-battle speech: clad in armor, she rides a horse in front of her army while spewing encouraging sayings. I half expected her to say that the enemy may take their lives, but they'd never take their freedom.
Still, I have to give credit where credit is due. I greatly enjoyed Blanchett's performance; she gave Elizabeth a determined yet fragile quality that was compelling. I distinctly remember an emotional outburst aimed at the Spanish ambassador: "I too can command the wind, sir!" she screams. "I have a hurricane in me that will strip Spain bare if you dare to try me!" This moment was raw and overwhelming, which was appropriate given her emotional state. I also remember a scene in an astrologist's lair showing Elizabeth's desperation. She clearly couldn't stand not knowing how everything would turn out. It was prophesized that two kingdoms would battle and only one would fall--the Queen would like nothing more than to hear that England will be victorious. Unfortunately, that cannot be guaranteed.
Yes, there is a lot to recommend about "Elizabeth: The Golden Age," and thank goodness that the good outweighs the bad. This is not a perfect film, but it can still get an audience from point A to point B. And it certainly is wonderful to look at; every shot is so richly detailed that you can't help but admire the work that went into it. The costumes are vivid, colorful, and intricate. The sets are lavish and bold, with practically every location dripping with colorful tapestries. The armada attack features a number of convincing special effects. Basically, everything felt real in terms of the film's look. The film's story, on the other hand, wasn't all that it could have been. There's a wealth of material on Queen Elizabeth I, and I can't help but feel that most of it was disregarded to make room for romantic elements. Romance works, but only to a point.
44 of 48 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Eye Candy,
It's not often that I review movies (there are some exceptions) but felt compelled to do so here as there seem to be so many that disliked Elizabeth - The Golden Age. I saw this when it first came out in the theaters and was thoroughly impressed. Yes, the costumes were spectacular, the photography superlative, and the scenery breathtaking; in other words, this film is filled with eye candy. Cate Blanchett played the awesomely beautiful queen and I was transfixed by her performance - something that normally doesn't happen to me when I go to a movie.
Granted, there may be many historical inaccuracies in this film but I didn't buy a ticket to receive an education - I use other sources (such a books) to accomplish that. (What a concept!) Elizabeth - The Golden Age, effectively transported me out of the here and now into another realm which only the arts can do. It also led to a desire to read more on the life of the "Virgin Queen." It is for those reasons that I would highly recommend this film.
82 of 105 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Visual Feast, A Tedious Film,
ELIZABETH: THE GOLDEN AGE isn't golden. Expectations were high after Cate Blanchett's first foray in 1998 as Elizabeth I, but somehow this follow-up film, with the same director (Shekhar Kapur) and writer (Michael Hirst with assistance from William Nicholson), does not reach those heights. Visually stunning, with an endless array of knockout costumes for Blanchett, special effects and scenery as majestic as any that have been photographed by fine cinematographer Remie Adefarasin and a musical score by Craig Armstrong and AR Rahman - all of these fine attributes cannot cover the weak script and the general lack of character development that hampers the usually exceptional core of actors.
The portion of Elizabeth's history covered by the film is the battle with Spain, England being the only country not participating in the Holy War in Europe under the direction of King Philip II of Spain (Jordi Mollà), complete with the surprise decimation of the approaching Spanish Armada due to the heroism and commitment of Elizabeth with her people. The surrounding events include Elizabeth's dalliance with Sir Walter Raleigh (Clive Owen) and the traumatic (for Elizabeth) beheading of Mary Stuart (Samantha Morton), under the advisement of Elizabeth's trusted Sir Francis Walsingham (Geoffrey Rush).
Blanchett is a consummate actress and manages to inhabit the persona of Elizabeth as much with her glances and body language and silences as with the meager material from the script. She IS a Queen reborn. The remainder of the cast is adequate though shallow, and while each has very little to say they maintain an atmosphere of Elizabethan England. This is a DVD that could well be watched without the soundtrack and still be entertaining for the visual splendors. It could have been so much more. Grady Harp, February 08
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Childless Bastard but a Mother to Her People,
Elizabeth I is considered by many to be among the most significant and fascinating monarchs to ever walk the earth. She is also regarded as among the most beloved as well. To create a lush and dramatic series of films about her long and storied rule is by no means unexpected, nor is it very original as the amount of on-screen interpretations of Elizabeth directly reflects the fascination we have in pondering the meaning of her reign. Elizabeth: The Golden Age is Shekhar Kapur's sequel to Elizabeth, a film that introduced us to the famous queen and showed us the first part of her reign. It's funny, I've been watching Showtime's the The Tudors and the most recent episodes have shown us Elizabeth's birth and even a little bit about Mary I, the queen that proceeded her and the daughter of Catherine of Aragon . Given the nature of the hedonistic protagonists Anne Bolyn and King Henry VIII on that show and its positive portrayal of victimized Catholics such as Saint Thomas More, it was quite refreshing to see the Catholic Church in the interrogation room once again, perhaps where it belongs. Anyway, the significance in the quasi-history portrayed on both this film and that show compliment each other quite nicely as Spain during the second half of Elizabeth's rule was an absolute god-fearing behemoth and a force to be reckoned with. Some people have said this film is Anti-Catholic but really, these are the days of the inquisition we're watching. It might be a task to stay balanced.
Elizabeth is fundamentally very easy to sympathize with, after all it isn't really her fault her father was a pervert and her mother his mistress. Nevertheless, Cate Blanchett has so much range that her performance quietly shows us her less obvious flaws. I'm convinced that no other actress could portray this queen in a way that justifies her reputation. The cast is actually great even beyond her though, which is not unlike the first film. Walter Raleigh is played by Clive Owen, Geoffrey Rush is Francis Walsingham and Mary, Queen of Scots is played with great villainy by Samantha Morton. The film follows the Battle of Gravelines in the Anglo-Spanish War as it's primary battle scene but most of the film is focused on the amazing costumes, music, and sets. It also ponders Elizabeth's interpersonal relationships.
There are massive historical inaccuracies that are for the most part done to heighten drama but some are pretty inexplicable (where the hell was Robert Cecil?). I guess the inaccuracies would be inconsequential if I didn't also believe that 99% of the audience would see The Golden Age as their only reference to the virgin queen. I'm not so sure I can forgive that but I know many viewers will. Elizabeth's famous speech to the troops at Tilbury before the invasion of the Spanish Armada is widely documented but for those who don't know it is regarded as fact, the scene comes off as derivative of just about every Hollywood epic period film made in the last twenty years. Blanchett is not at fault but her plate armor and lack of femininity in the way the scene is directed actually brought back the long forgotten memories of Milla Jovovich's speech as Joan of Arc in the pathetically amateur Luc Besson film The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc. That isn't to say The Golden Age is as bad a film, it is not. It captures the magic expected of a portrayal of this leader in flashes but misses the opportunity to capture her most significant speech. They actually blew it.
Anyway, very good looking film with some really great acting, but take heed; the history buffs might take issue with the accuracy, while the movie buffs might mistakenly walk out thinking they've learned something. I'd like to consider myself a little bit of both so consider this a mixed review leaning toward a partial recommendation for the visuals and performances.
20 of 25 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I wanted to love this film,
As I am a die hard fan of Kapur's Elizabeth, I was overjoyed when I found out that they were releasing a sequel, with both Cate Blanchett and Geoffrey Rush returning. I made sure that I saw it on the date it came out, but I left the theatre feeling disappointed.
Don't get me wrong, Elizabeth: The Golden Age is an entertaining and visually lush film. The costumes are beautiful, the music is nice, and Blanchett (though looking a little young for a queen who should have been in her 50s), Rush, Clive Owen (as Walter Raleigh), and Samantha Morton (as Mary Queen of Scots) all give wonderful performances. However, it still felt as if the movie had something missing.
I know that the first Elizabeth was riddled with historical inaccuracies, but the movie contained so much plot and intrigue it allowed one to overlook its inconsistencies. Elizabeth: The Golden Age, however, falls short in that it focuses almost exclusively on the pseudo-romance between Elizabeth and Walter Raleigh (while Elizabeth did indeed have feelings for many of her male court favorites, Raleigh included, it was far from the fairy tale we see here) at the expense of leaving out many important characters and events. For example, where is Elizabeth's former love and best friend Robert Dudley? He is not even mentioned in this film, and it is a well known fact that not only did he participate in the Armada in 1588, he died later that same year, causing Elizabeth to stay shut in her room for days. Also missing is his stepson Robert Devereaux, the Earl of Essex, who was well on his way to becoming Elizabeth's golden boy.
Inaccuracies aside, there was so much going on in the actual time of Elizabeth I's second half of her reign (The Golden Age) that it is quite sad that all we get to see in this film consists of Elizabeth and Raleigh flirting, dancing, and riding around on horseback together or Elizabeth whispering her fears and desires to the only lady-in-waiting who seems to have been of any degree of importance, Bess Throckmorton (later Bess Raleigh).
The sad thing is, that with such talented actors, all this needed was a more fleshed out script and this could have come close to equalling its predecessor.
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Thin Lizzie,
Alas and anon...just when you thought it was safe to assemble an armada and go back into the water, someone goes and produces another costumer concerning a certain virgin queen. Bollywood director Shekhar Kapur has re-enlisted co-conspirators Cate Blanchett and Geoffrey Rush for one more go at the old girl in "Elizabeth: The Golden Age".
Picking up a few decades hence from where he left off in his outstanding 1998 film "Elizabeth", which depicted the ascendancy of the title character, Kapur cheekily condenses a turbulent and historically significant 4-year period (1585-1588) during the reign of Elizabeth I into what appears to be a rather eventful week in the life of HRM.
As the film opens, we are introduced to a much more wary and care-worn monarch (an alarmingly thin Blanchett) holding court over England's destiny. Gone is the radiant, rosy-cheeked and free-spirited "Bess" who lit up the screen in the previous film; she has been replaced by a mercurial, slightly paranoid monarch who is constantly on guard against duplicitous well-wishers and sycophants. Even her closest confidants are kept at arm's length, especially her Machiavellian "spymaster", Sir Francis Walsingham (Rush).
The Queen has two big headaches keeping her on edge. The first is her cousin, Mary Stuart, Queen of Scotland (Samantha Morton, in a fiercely intense performance) who feels she is the rightful heir to the English throne, not the childless [...] Elizabeth (who is a Protestant to boot). Mary has some influential Catholic sympathizers at home and abroad, including the other royal pain in Elizabeth's derriere, King Philip II of Spain (Jordi Molla), who gets his jollies jeering at the English queen and rattling his saber.
Elizabeth finds a temporary distraction from all her political woes when the dashing adventurer Sir Walter Raleigh (Clive Owen, in all his rangy glory) strolls into her court, full of tales and loaded with booty from his latest excursion to the New World. Elizabeth is obviously charmed, but has to suppress her schoolgirl crush for sake of appearances. However, when she learns that Raleigh has fathered a child and secretly eloped with her favorite chambermaid, Bess Throckmorton (Abbie Cornish) she is not so amused, and gives him a nice cozy jail cell to explore for a few years. Not to worry, however-history intervenes and the Queen pardons Raleigh in time to put him in charge of naval defenses in the year of the Armada (1588), which fuels the film's climatic battle scenes.
I have to warn you, this is one of those "historical" epics where you have to make a decision going in whether you are going to nitpick and get cranky and argumentative over factual inaccuracies and behavioral anachronisms, or just sit back for two hours and enjoy the opulent pageantry and bodice-ripping court intrigue with a $#!+-eating grin on your face. Keep in mind that the screenplay was authored by William Nicholson, who scripted the (very) loose re-interpretation of the Camelot legend, "First Knight" and Michael Hirst, who wrote several episodes of Showtime's recent mini-series about Henry VIII, "The Tudors". In other words, this ain't "Masterpiece Theater", folks.
Kapur does seem indecisive at times; it's as if he wasn't sure whether he wanted to make an updated version of "Fire Over England" (which depicted Elizabeth and Raleigh embroiled in court intrigue in the year of the Armada) or pay homage to "The Sea Hawk" (the swashbuckling action scenes featuring Owens in full Errol Flynn mode will definitely make history majors twitch). Nicholson and Hirst's dialogue fuels some spirited exchanges between Blanchett and Owen in the first half of the film that reminded me of the clever repartee from "Shakespeare in Love ", but it ultimately clashes with some of the heavier moments later on (Samantha Morton nearly steals the movie in her execution scene, but it seems to belong in a completely different and darker-toned film).
If you are a fan of the genre, you will likely be pleased. Blanchett is
excellent in the lead role, and Owen is charismatic as always. Rush is good, although his character is a bit one-dimensional (not his fault). One thing for sure-this should be the last of Liz the First for a while. Right? Tell me there isn't another one in pre-production. Prithee, tell me.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Poor history, nice visuals,
Costumes were beautiful, Blanchett was worth watching most of the time & other actors were pretty decent, but the history sucked and for such a strong female character, they sure made her look petty & idiotic at times. Also, why do so many movies turn Spain into the evil character? The portrayal of King Phillip was pretty absurd & really made the movie laughable. (the movie Amistad really used Spain as a scapegoat, too, when England did it's fair share in the slave trade.) Elizabeth I had a lot more to her life, boiling it down to just a bad romance is a pretty big disservice.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A let down,
After seeing the first film (Elizabeth), I expected much more from this film, and was disappointed. The action is abrupt to the point of jarring, and there are too many scenes where Blanchett just stands in a costume while the camera whirls around her. The photography and sets are excellent, but not enough to carry this pretentious and poorly executed flick. I'm sorry I wasted the money to rent it.
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Long and overdone,
It is as if the director were saying "look at me, look at me, am I not fabulous?", instead of giving us a truthful movie with a tight well-written story. Practically everything Elizabeth did and said was written down in her own time. It is very easy to follow history and produce a thrilling story about these events, but this director decided to give us lies and dress up the lies in his concept of art. Got news for him--the art lies in story telling, not dressing it up with costumes, dark moody sets, and special effects. Everything here is overdone. Poor writing with unrealistic sappy dialogue and historical lies cannot be saved with expensive (but gaudy) costumes and fancy camera work. The truth in this story would have been far more interesting than this ego-driven director's vision. For instance, did you know that Elizabeth refused to pay many of the sailors who fought and risked their lives to save her royal butt from the Spanish? Many of them died later of diseases and starvation while living in filth, but her royal partying went on. But if you wish to find far greater evil, read the histories of the Borgia and Medici popes. This movie was long, tedious, poorly scripted, overdone, boring, sappily dialogued, ego-driven, and mostly lies. I should have turned it off half way through, but I wanted to see just how bad it was going to get.
17 of 21 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Why did they bother except possibly for a costuming award?,
Oh, the costumes look fabulous. Ditto the set design and locations. But come on...Elizabeth comes off as shrill, petty, obsessive, and hysterical here, while Walsingham pops up now and then as a prop. Sir Walter Raleigh is somewhat interesting, as is the queen's favorite lady, Bess--but the story isn't supposed to be about them, is it?
It's also incredibly irritating to watch scene after scene of actors being filmed through frosted glass. Apparently the director and cinematographer couldn't think of anything else to do.
The whole film comes off as surprisingly dull, given the potential strength of the subject matter. Too bad.
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