Elizabeth: The Golden Age is a paradox. It is at the same time visually stunning, employing a deeply moving musical score and spectacular sets, within the palace walls and without, but the film is lacking in depth of character, emotionality and any sense of mature use of symbolism or the like.
Cate Blanchett gives a mediocre at best performance as Elizabeth I this second time around. When she played the famous queen in the preceding Elizabeth, she pulled it off much better. However, if you want to get more for your money while watching the same amazing story, I recommend you skip this flick and go directly to HBO Film’s Elizabeth I starring the truly regal Helen Mirren as Elizabeth I.
I imagine this film will get nominated for several academy awards this year, but the only ones I feel it is deserving of is musical score and perhaps set design. As for the acting, the screenplay, the direction…I say, let others who truly deserve the awards receive them.
Although this is a continuation of the role that led Blanchett to stardom, she could have stopped at the first portrayal and left good enough alone. While her acting is also lacking, it is the script first and foremost that prevents Elizabeth from being the powerful queen she was.
Sir Walter Raleigh, played by the talented and ruggedly handsome Clive Owen, only distracts the queen from her mission, to strategically defeat the Spanish Armada led by King Phillip II (Jordi Molla) who plans to invade Britain. Elizabeth’s deep interest in Raleigh reduces her to simply common as opposed to showing her true humanity, which I believe was the intention.
Another funny tidbit worth mentioning is the story is set in 1582, which was the 27th year of Elizabeth’s reign and would have made her 52 years old. Blanchett looks a staggering 20 years younger than that, only fueling the fire of this burn out of a film.
For anyone who likes period pieces, grand sets, grand costumes and British accents, check this one out. But for those of you who like genuinely original films rich in character, structure and historical accuracy, I say spend your money on another movie. After paying for the popcorn and soda, Elizabeth: The Golden Age may no longer be worth it.