Elizabeth: The Golden Age Reviews
The movie looks beautiful, enhanced by intriguing camerawork and sumptuous production design. But the music is overbearing, perhaps to compensate for the pedestrian script and dull history lesson.
We are left choking in the billows and folds of Queen Elizabeth I's fabulous finery without a single insight into the woman among them, let alone the most celebrated period in English history.
From its extravagant costumes to its pompous score, The Golden Age is packed with distractions. But the biggest of all is the story itself, which works so mightily to tarnish the queen at its core.
The Golden Age feels like two movies: one a bodice-ripping romance, the other a study in statecraft and power. But these strands, one private, one public, come together in the title character and the balancing act she must master.
It is a silly film about serious matters, challenged by a multiple-personality disorder -- multiple multiple-personality disorders, in fact -- but more or less saved from pure nonsense by Blanchett.
Cate Blanchett returns to the role that made her a star, and though this sequel to Elizabeth (1998) is less defensible as history, as florid costume drama it's just as entertaining.
Through it all, whether in muslin nightie, damask gown or silvery armor, Blanchett commands the screen as she commands the royal navy. Her unforced majesty makes a so-so film worth watching.
Elizabeth achieved its power by focusing on the central idea of how a callow princess became a great queen. In trying to re-create the formula, the sequel merely grasps about for a reason to be, and that makes for dull watching, indeed.
Shekhar Kapur's Elizabeth: The Golden Age, from a screenplay by William Nicholson and Michael Hirst, turned out to be more rousingly entertaining than many of its less-than-lukewarm reviews had led me to anticipate.
Overall, pic takes a small-minded view of history and, in its rush to proceed from one tumultuous event to the next, lacks any sense of occasion relative to the significant pageant it attempts to depict.