Cate Blanchett is beautifully convincing in portraying the internal conflict of a woman of power. Elizabeth has the ongoing support of Francis Walsingham. However Elizabeth does not always agree with the wisdom of her advisors in matters of state and she stuggles to be impressed with the potential suitors marketed to her in order to form political alliances. Her emotional loneliness is demonstrated by her relationships with her first lady, Bess ( Abbie Cornish) and Sir Walter Raleigh.(Clive Owen) Blanchett with whom she illuminates Elizabeths empathatic character as well as her moments of emotional fragility. Elizabeths moral and emotional turmoi, regarding her cousin Mary Queen of Scots is considered in a different light to the jealous tyrant, depicted in some historical writings. This is congruent with her personal substitute her own maternal instincts with her quest to be mother to her people. The story of the Spanish Armarda is simplistically relayed, yet the detail on the ships, especially the horse jumping into the water is great for giving the outline to young history students. Blanchett is fantastic in every way but I hadn't considered Raleigh as an aquiescing character and Clive Owen was a little unconvincing. The plot by Phillip of Spain was confusing at times but became clearer towards the end of the film. A good film with a superb leading lady.
Some would argue that if the Church were as enthusiastic about eliminating paedophilia & idolatry from its ranks, as it is about film criticism & boycotting the likes of Nicole Kidman or Dan Brown: the world would be a safer place. But alas, it seems the Vatican's ecumenical hierarchy is often more concerned with glorifying its historical image, than they are with acknowledging & moving on from the mistakes of their past, though to his credit; Pope John Paul II took an admirable last stand by denouncing the invasion of Iraq and openly lambasting "western forces masquerading as democracies" as the harbingers of a "...new totalitarianism". That said, Catholicism's self-appointed leaders aren't entirely wrong about 'Elizabeth: The Golden Age', for it is a feverishly pro-Protestant picture, with Spaniards (much like the French in 'Elizabeth I') portrayed as absolute cads, facinorous Christian fanatics who get a right royal drumming at the hands of Cate Blanchet's QEI (though the Armada's earlier pasting en route to our shores by the Ottoman Turks, is only mentioned in passing). Shekhar Kapur's unexpected sequel to his hit, Oscar winning biopic 'Elizabeth I' (1998) is an intriguing, though sometimes boring, combination of period drama, romance and action, even its tagline: 'Woman, Warrior, Queen' seems better suited to Middle Earth than it does middle England, for as is the case with most historical epics; facts are malleable and dramatic license is used to the Nth degree, with filmmakers often sacrificing story for legend or bending timelines to suit the actors involved. Its' 1588 A.D. and England stands on the brink of invasion by the Spanish Armada; Phillp II's unstoppable fleet of imperial warships ready to bring the fledging Protestant sect to heel at the altar of Rome. Queen Elizabeth (an effortlessly good, if occasionally OTT, performance by Cate Blanchett) has to deal with an array of conspirators at home; most notably her imprisoned Catholic cousin Mary Tudor (i.e. Mary Queen Of Scots, played to the hilt by consummate scene stealer Samantha Morton), receive swarthy, swashbuckling explorer Walter Raleigh (Clive Owen) and generally mope around lamenting the unnatural restrictions imposed upon her by the burdens of duty.
One of the main differences between this and the original, is that 'Elizabeth' is now a fully fledged franchise, whereas its predecessor had a certain amount of leeway in its depiction of her bloody rise to power as part of England's burgeoning bourgeois mafia class: drug dealers, thieves and murderers the lot of them. Having each other whacked in sporadic acts of violence linked to their ongoing sectarian conflicts, familial feuds and personal vendettas. After all, who could forget Kelly Macdonald's bitter demise, Geoffrey Rush's in-house inquisitor Sir Francis Walsingham (who returns in this sequel) or executions ordered at the drop of a hat and swiftly carried out with little spectacle, drama or remorse. 'The Golden Age' however, is a different kettle of fish; for Elizabeth is now an iconic figure who can do no wrong: an armour clad heroine, political administrator and sometime matchmaker recreated in a mythical mould better suited to Blanchett's fairy queen Galadriel from 'Lord Of The Rings'. David Starkey would have kittens.
Still, that doesn't mean it fails to entertain: Samantha Morton is excellent as Mary Stuart, who elicits our sympathy in spite of her schemes and cuts a lonely figure as her best laid plans go awry; more Milady De Winter than Lady Macbeth, Morton is ably supported by underrated Irish actress Susan Lynch and Eddie Redmayne who plays the ill fated assassin Thomas Babington. Clive Owen's Walter Raleigh cuts a dashing figure in the Errol Flynn style, though it's difficult not to think of his hilarious: "...this is mental: I'm Clive Owen for God's sake!" cameo in 'Extras' as he romances Liz's lady-in-waiting (Abbie 'Candy' Cornish). 'The Golden Age' also marks a return to form for writer/director Shekhar Kapur, whose lumbering take on old colonial tripe 'The Four Feathers' (2002) kept with tradition by being just as dull as all the previous versions. Kapur is a fine director who commits some visually stunning scenes to film and employs a successful blend of intimate character development / political chicanery whilst saving the big guns for an exhilarating, and action packed finale.
And as for accusations of anti-Catholicism? I can understand how an oversimplified narrative stating that Elizabeth was only out to stop the Armada / Spanish Inquisition and treated her own Catholic subjects fairly, would be offensive to some Chritisians. For though there's no denying that the Christian Catholic Empire was a brutal regime, known to force conversions at the point of a sword whilst regularly burning Jews, Muslims & Protestants at the stake, this does not, however, excuse Protestant England's persecution of its innocent Catholic citizens with equally barbaric measures such as 'Priest Holes' and the like. But then again, this is neither a history lesson nor a documentary, and ultimately, one has to accept that in cinema, sometimes, everyone has to play the villain. Whether its an irredeemably evil 'British Empire' hacked to pieces in furious displays of righteous indignation by Mel Gibson's God fearing American in 'The Patriot', Muslims in every single episode of '24' or sadistic U.S. troops who get their comeuppance in 'Valley Of The Wolves: Iraq'. The only group of people who can't, it seems, be cast as villains in modern English language films without an international uproar; are Jews (worth mentioning since we're on the subject of Good Queen Bess), and that's probably because they built Hollywood with the bare hands of hired Gentile labour, thus have the right to do as they please until someone creates a better film industry. But if it irks the Catholic church that much, then they ought to invest some of their vast fortune into producing a film of their own. 'Elizabeth: The Golden Age' is a decent enough sequel with good cinematography, splendid costumes, successful evocation of the period and one of the best naval battles since 'Master & Commander', not a classic, but worth seeing. We are amused.
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Cate Blanchett reprises her role as the 'Virgin Queen' in this sequel to the Oscar-nominated 'Elizabeth'. This time round Elizabeth has to contend with the rising power of Spain, as Philip II (Jordi Molla) readies an armada for invasion, intent on returning England to Catholic influence. While her trusty servant Sir Francis Walsingham (Geoffrey Rush) works tirelessly to protect her from numerous plots, Elizabeth discovers she has a potential weakness in her fondness for Sir Walter Raleigh (Clive Owen).
Please note this is a region 2 DVD and will require a region 2 (Europe) or region Free DVD Player in order to play. From the Director of the seven-time Oscar® nominated Elizabeth,, Academy Award® winner and 2008 Golden Globe® winner Cate Blanchett returns to her role as Queen Elizabeth I in the story of one woman's crusade to control love, defend her empire and secure her position as a beloved icon of the western world. Reunited with Academy Award® winner Geoffrey Rush and also starring Clive Owen as Sir Walter Raleigh, a dashing seafarer in whom Elizabeth finds newfound temptation. Laced with passion, suspense and betrayal, Elizabeth: The Golden Age is an enthralling epic - complete with breathtaking scenery, sumptuous costumes and stunning performances. Actors Cate Blanchett, Clive Owen, Geoffrey Rush, Samantha Morton, Tom Hollander, Abbie Cornish, Jordi Molla, Rhys Ifans, Eddie Redmayne, Adam Godley & Jeremy Barker Director Shekhar Kapur Certificate 12 years and over Year 2007 Screen Widescreen 1.85:1 Languages English - DTS-HD Master Audio (5.1) Additional Languages French ; French Canadian ; Italian ; German ; Spanish ; Japanese Subtitles English for the hearing impaired ; French ; French Canadian ; Italian ; German ; Spanish ; Latin American Spanish ; Japanese ; Korean ; Swedish ; Danish ; Finnish ; Dutch ; Norwegian ; Portugese ; Greek ; Traditional Mandarin ; Cantonese Closed Captions Yes Duration 1 hour and 55 minutes (approx)