Film Review: Elizabeth – The Golden Age

22 Nov

Plot: Growing keenly aware of the changing religious and political tides of late 16th century Europe, Queen Elizabeth (Cate Blanchett) finds her rule openly challenged by the Spanish King Philip II (Jordi Molla) — with his powerful army and sea-dominating armada — determined to restore England to Catholicism. Preparing to go to war to defend her empire, Elizabeth struggles to balance ancient royal duties with an unexpected vulnerability in her love for Sir Walter Raleigh (Clive Owen). But he remains forbidden for a queen who has sworn body and soul to her country. Unable and unwilling to pursue her love, Elizabeth encourages her favorite lady-in-waiting, Bess (Abbie Cornish), to befriend Raleigh to keep him near. But this strategy forces Elizabeth to observe their growing intimacy.

As she charts her course abroad, her trusted advisor, Sir Francis Walsingham (Geoffrey Rush), continues his masterful puppetry of Elizabeth’s court at home — and her campaign to solidify absolute power. Through an intricate spy network, Walsingham uncovers an assassination plot that could topple the throne. But as he unmasks traitors that may include Elizabeth’s own cousin Mary Stuart (Samantha Morton), he unknowingly sets England up for destruction.

I first fell in love with Cate Blanchett after seeing her in 1998’s Elizabeth and I thought she would easily win the Academy Best Actress that year only for her thunder to be stolen by Gwyneth Paltrow who won for Shakespeare in Love. When it was rumoured that a sequel was in the works I felt dubious about it. I am sure Cate will do justice to the role anew being the great actress that she is, and add to that the backdrop story of the Spanish Armada against England then ergo, you’ve got a film.

But how did the sequel fare to the original, you might ask. Well, personally I thought it wasn’t as good as the original. It felt a little bit disjointed and there wasn’t enough time to get to know some of the characters that made it a little bit confusing to follow. I really wanted to see more of the Spanish Armada but I felt that that too was rushed when it could of really been the film’s highlight.

The dalliance between Elizabeth and Raleigh could not carry even a candle to what she had with Robert Dudley, Earl Of Essex which was wonderfully played by Joseph Fiennes in the original. Or maybe it had really more to do with Clive Owen’s acting. I just didn’t feel the heat between him and Blanchett. When he was dancing the volta opposite Cornish, it was like watching a celebrity version of Strictly Come Dancing, all stiff and no grace. There was nothing, no heat, no passion. Is it because he played a pirate and pirates can’t dance? No offense if you are an Owen fan but although I have nothing against him, I still contend that he can’t act to save his life, and his performance as Raleigh was contrived and wooden.

Blanchett clearly ruled the film, as luminous as she has always been and as passionate. The supporting performances from Rush, Cornish, Hollander, Ifans and Molla are commendable but it has to be said that Samantha Morton was simply amazing playing the tragic Mary, Queen of Scots.

If you love grand productions and a good period piece, then this might just work for you, but I do recommend that you also see Elizabeth which is a much better film.

Elizabeth: The Golden Age – 3/5

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2 Responses to “Film Review: Elizabeth – The Golden Age”

  1. Marina November 26, 2007 at 11:14 pm #

    And I think this is exactly why I liked it so much – it was great fun with fantastic (if sometimes too small) performances!

  2. Simone December 24, 2007 at 3:06 pm #

    Marina, sorry for the delayed response, but please tell me you prefer the original?

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