Review of “Elizabeth: The Golden Age” (2007) PG-13 113min
April 23rd, 2008 by Maxim · 1 Comment · 9,262 Views
This is the sequel to 1998 Oscar-winning drama “Elizabeth”, also directed by Shekhar Kapur (The Four Feathers) starring Cate Blanchett, Geoffrey Rush, Clive Owen and Samantha Morton.
The plot: The original 1998 movie left us in 1555. The “Golden Age” picks up the story in 1588. A still-young-looking Elizabeth I (Cate Blanchett) is still childless, and is convinced by her court to begin to look for suitor. The Virgin Queen befriends a pirate and a traveler, Walter Raleigh (Clive Owen), who arrived from America and dreams of establishing an English colony there. Their mutual attention was noticed by the Spanish ambassador. At the same time the King Philip of the Papist Spain is building an Armada to punish the heretic England, but he needs a rationale for the attack. Using a traitor, he devices an intrigue involving Elizabeth’s cousin Mary Stuart, who was under house arrest. The ploy works, and the Spanish Armada joins forces with French ground troops for an offensive.
The good: Considering this is a period film, the acting is within the style: actors in main and supporting roles give great performances. Cate Blanchett played so powerfully she gave me goosebumps. Kapur is trying to explore Queen’s personality from different angles: as a woman and a lover, as a politician, as a warrior and motivator, as a ruler of a country and a war-time leader. Director stresses several times that Elizabeth wanted to do everything to be loved by her people. There are a lot of intrigue, romance, conspiracies and assassination attempts, with beautiful cinematography and nice Victorian costumes and sets. The religious aspect of the movie offers a lot of food for thought. This was a critical moment for the Virgin Queen and for England. She must have been an incredibly strong woman. Interesting to watch Clive Owen as Sir Walter Raleigh in the love triangle. Pretty good character studies. Beautiful sequence where horse jumps off the burning Spanish ship. Samantha Morton is under-appreciated actress.
The bad: I did not like the way the movie was directed: all performances were exaggerated and have a feel of a stage, theatrical production, as if all the scenes were shot on the studio lot. This is the fault of the director, not the actors. The movie does not get the history right. Musical score is nice, but overbearing. Too many modern clichés. The script is also poorly written. Could Sir Walter Raleigh walk in like that during the meeting with royal suitors? All scenes were deliberately slow to create the “epic” feel, but didn’t quite work for me. Low budget battle scene, although I liked how the calm turned into storm during the battle. When I saw it in the theater I could not get rid of the feeling that the Armada is just one ship filmed at the different angles in the studio. As I found out after watching DVD extras, the Armada was CGI, and there in fact wasn’t a single boat – the full of the ship was built inside the studio pavilion, and indeed, half the ship was Spanish and the other half – English. 20 years ago that would have been awesome achievement in set design, but this is 21st century (considering modern film budgets).
The summary: not quite historically accurate, but visually dazzling and suspenseful drama.
The cast: Queen Elizabeth I – Cate Blanchett | Sir Francis Walsingham – Gregory Rush | Sir Walter Raleigh – Clive Owen | Mary Stuart – Samantha Morton | Robert Reston – Rhys Ifans | King Philip ll of Spain – Jordi Mollà | Lord Howard – John Shrapnel | Infanta – Aimee King
The credits: Director – Shekhar Kapur | Writers – William Nicholson and Michael Hirst | Producers – Tim Bevan, Jonathan Cavendish, Liza Chasin, Chris Emposimato, Eric Fellner, Debra Hayward, Michael Hirst | Original Musical Score – Craig Armstrong, A.R. Rahman | Cinematography – Remi Adefarasin | Editing – Jill Bilcock | Working Title Films | STUDIO CANAL | Motion Picture ZETA Produktionsgesellschaft | Universal Pictures
HD-DVD Extras: (Looks absolutely spectacular on HD-DVD)
- Deleted scenes
- The Reign Continues: Making Elizabeth: The Golden Age
- Inside Elizabeth’s World
- Commanding the Winds: Creating the Armada
- Towers, Courts and Cathedrals
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