Written by William Nicholson and Michael Hirst
Directed by Shekhar Kapur
Running Time: 1:54
for violence, some sexuality and nudity.
Elizabeth: The Golden Age was one of those occasions where the movie and I just didn't click.
Spain and England are on the brink of a Holy war between the Catholic Spaniards and the Protestants of England. Queen Elizabeth is trying to hold her country together, but an underground movement, likely prodded by Spain, is pushing to get the imprisoned Mary Stuart installed as Queen. At the same time, Elizabeth, famous for being the virgin Queen, finds herself falling for a commoner, Walter Raleigh. One of Elizabeth's ladies in waiting, also named Elizabeth, is also falling for Raleigh. The Queen must try and keep her personal life in order while keeping the country she loves so dearly from falling into the hands of Spain.
The previews for Elizabeth: The Golden Age make the movie seem like it'll be much more action-packed than it really is. For the most part, this is a costume drama and the action sequences all come towards the end. I never saw the original Elizabeth so I can't say how this compares, but from my point of view, I could never quite get into the story. Everything looked good and the acting was commendable, but there was nothing really special about it. I think one of the problems is, when the first one came out, Cate Blanchett was an unknown, so seeing a new star being born made the movie feel special and important. This time around, everyone knows who she is, and Geoffrey Rush and Clive Owen are also very recognizable faces. The movie has to exist on a higher plain because there are now expectations.
The acting was pretty good, but that's to be expected from this cast. There are one or two moments when Blanchett really lets loose in monologues that you can see being used in clips if she gets award recognition. And watching her anguish as her personal life isn't under her control is a treat to see. It's a pretty good performance but again, nothing that I don't expect from her. The real revelation is Abby Cornish as the lady in waiting. She has a sweet playfulness about her that makes you want to focus on her when she's on screen.
The story is where things get bogged down. It took a while before things started to really make sense. We're kind of thrown into the middle of the story without any warning. Since this movie takes place, I believe 20 years after the original, it's not as if you need to see the first one. But it appears as if having some historical knowledge might be helpful. Why was Mary Stuart imprisoned in the first place? I don't think that was ever mentioned. And if Spain was so intent on a Holy war, and if they were at the time the most powerful nation in the world, why do they need to go through a very convoluted procedure to give justification for the war? Who was going to oppose them if they just went ahead and attacked? The movie didn't answer these questions, it just threw it on screen and wanted us to accept things as they were. All that being said, I did find the war story line much more entertaining that dealing with the Queen and her personal life, because when all was said and done, she came off as being nothing more than a jealous, controlling woman who was used to getting everything she wanted and when she didn't, she would stomp off in a huff. I suppose it makes her seem more human, but a whiny human.
When we finally get to the battle stages, the movie finally took hold for me. Elizabeth had her Braveheart moment riding on a horse in front of the troops before the battle began. And watching the thinking that went into how to defend England from the Spanish water superiority was entertaining. But it all came too late for me to really enjoy the film. This is not to say the movie isn't any good because others in the audience were enthralled. But for me, it wasn't anything special. Sometimes that happens when a movie and a person don't click.
THE BOTTOM LINE
So overall, I felt Elizabeth: The Golden Age was just so-so. There wasn't anything specifically wrong with it, just that as a whole it wasn't the kind of movie I enjoy.
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