1 hour, 54minutes
PG-13 Parents Strongly Cautioned.
for violence, some sexuality and nudity.
The Reign Continues: Making Elizabeth: The Golden Age - Cate Blanchett, Clive Owen and Geoffrey Rush join director Shekhar Kapur in this exclusive look at how the next chapter in the monarch's life came to the big screen; Commanding the Winds: Creating the Armada - an insider's look at how the film's massive ships and dramatic battles were created; Inside Elizabeth's World - Discover the secrets behind the film's elaborate production design; Towers, Courts and Cathedrals - Explore the historic and sacred locations that provided the glorious settings for the film
Cate Blanchett ... Queen Elizabeth I
John Shrapnel ... Lord Howard
Geoffrey Rush ... Sir Francis Walsingham
Susan Lynch ... Annette
Samantha Morton ... Mary Stuart
Abbie Cornish ... Elizabeth Throckmorton
Jordi Mollà ... King Philip ll of Spain
Penelope McGhie ... Margaret
Rhys Ifans ... Robert Reston
Eddie Redmayne ... Thomas Babington
Clive Owen ... Sir Walter Raleigh
The 1988 film covered the four years preceding Elizabeth’s accession in 1558 and the first part of her reign. “The Golden Age” strives for a similar mixture of dark political machination and woozy romance, but this time it comes across as melodramatic pageantry masquerading as a history lesson.
In this film the story moves forward to the mid-1580s, but continues to emphasize the queen’s reliance on her canny, manipulative advisor Sir Francis Walsingham (Geoffrey Rush "Shine") and the same two plot threads. The first involves the continuing struggle between Protestants and Catholics, with the queen (Cate Blanchett "Notes on a Scandal") in the sights of her Romish enemies. This time however, her foes aren’t the ones in the first movie. They are King Philip II of Spain (Jordi Molla "The Alamo") and a slew of English conspirators supporting the claims of the queen’s exiled Catholic rival, the deposed Scottish monarch Mary Stuart (Samantha Morton "In America").
That gives director Shekhar Kapur ("The Four Feathers") the opportunity to stage not only the abortive assassination attempt on Elizabeth that leads to Mary’s execution but the attempted Spanish invasion of England via Philip’s grand armada of 1588. But he failsto make them very interesting. The failed assassination is presented in a confused, elliptical fashion and the naval engagement appears to be a mixture of closeups of models alternating with action scenes that look like they were shot in a studio tank intercut with badly-matched special effects. But it does, give the star an opportunity to talk to the troops onshore, dressed in shining armor. The only problem is that in the reaction shots the army looks remarkably unimpressive and Molia plays Philip as so weird and fanatical that the result is almost comic. But Samantha Morton gives a fine performance as Mary.
The second plot element is the romantic one. It’s the triangle with Elizabeth coming on to Sir Walter Raleigh (Clive Owen "King Arthur "), who’s seeking her support for further exploration and piracy against the Spanish, but who’s attracted instead to the queen’s younger lady-in-waiting, Bess Throckmorton (Abbie Cornish "A Good Year").
The best elements of the film are the costumes by Alexandra Byrne, the elegant production design of Guy Hendrix Dyas, and the excellent cinematography by Remi Adefarasin as well as the performances of Cate Blanchett, Geoffrey Rush and Samantha Morton. But the music score by Craig Armstrong and Ar Rahman is oppressive. It's all somewhat disappointing after its 1998 predecessor that helped make Blanchett a star.