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Elizabeth: The Golden Age Movie Poster

Elizabeth: The Golden Age
Three and a Half Stars
Genre: Drama
Rated: PG-13
Directed by
: Shekhar Kapur
Starring: Cate Blanchett, Geoffrey Rush, Clive Owen, Abbie Cornish, Jordi Mollà, Rhys Ifans
Released by: Universal Pictures

In Short: While a tad too histrionic at times, this follow-up to the award-winning 1998 film, "Elizabeth," is still a worthy addition to the saga of England's legendary Virgin Queen.

The Return of the Queen
Elizabeth the First, Part Deux
by Jenny Peters

Fans of the 1998 film, "Elizabeth," should be happy to hear that the sequel to the historical tale of the young Queen Elizabeth I has arrived, boasting the same director (Shekhar Kapur) and many of the same cast of characters. "Elizabeth: The Golden Age" picks up the story of the famed English Virgin Queen in the late 1580s, as Mary, Queen of Scots, plots to take over her throne, and King Phillip II of Spain attempts to conquer all of England with his mighty Armada.

Cate Blanchett in Elizabeth: The Golden Age
Cate Blanchett in Elizabeth: The Golden Age

Elizabeth, played once again by a luminous Cate Blanchett, has been the queen for many years since we saw her last, a popular ruler who has steadfastly refused to marry and share her throne. Her earlier love interest, Robert Dudley (Joseph Fiennes), is gone in this film, replaced by a swashbuckling Clive Owen, who plays Sir Walter Raleigh. Theirs is an uneasy romance, especially since he is also drawn to her favorite lady-in-waiting, another Elizabeth (a dewy Abbie Cornish).

Romantic elements becomes overshadowed by the political intrigues, as Mary, Queen of Scots, and King Phillip II each attempt to wrest the crown from the English queen. It's a good idea to brush up on your history before seeing this film. Otherwise, you may just be slightly bewildered as to who is who in the sprawling tale.

Abby Cornish and Clive Owens in Elizabeth: The Golden Age
Geoffrey Rush in Elizabeth: The Golden Age

The one thing that is clear is that Cate Blanchett still knows how to inhabit Elizabeth's psyche. She is once again a compelling queen—and her astonishing costumes are practically worth the price of admission alone. Eloquently expressing the queen's lonely existence, the Oscar-winning actress gives yet another top-notch performance, especially as she rallies her countrymen to repel the invading Spanish Armada.

The film disappoints, however, in its overly histrionic soundtrack and camera shots that distract from the fascinating story the filmmakers are telling. "Elizabeth: The Golden Age" would have been a better movie if Kapur had avoided indulging in those over-the-top and unnecessary moments. Still, for fans of historical drama in general and Cate Blanchett in particular, this is a beautiful film that cries out for viewing in a theater, if just for a thirty-foot look at the costumes.

(Updated 10/12/07 NJ)

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