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3.7 out of 5 stars155
3.7 out of 5 stars
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on 28 February 2008
Cate Blanchett tackles this role with great aplomb and is undoubtedly one of the finest actresses of her generation; her Elizabeth is regal, strong willed but also vulnerable and charitable demonstrated in her relationship with Raleigh played by Clive Owen and her royal attendant. There aren't many testing roles for women in the movies and Cate Blanchett obviously relishes getting her teeth stuck into this role.

Much of the film deals with the troubles caused by Mary Queen of Scots and the diplomatic shananigans of the Spanish to try and get a Catholic monarch back on the English throne. The armada sequence at the end of the movie seems as though it has been tacked on and I think more should have been made of this as it ultimately came to define her successful reign.
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VINE VOICEon 22 May 2008
Elizabeth is back and she is... well... 55... You wouldn't tell from the movie, would you? Bearing in mind that average life expectancy was below 30 in her times, she was positively ancient...
Well, you shouldn't be able to tell her age and generally too much knowledge of history will spoil the fun. When the movie started I decided to follow Coleridge's advice to "suspend my disbelief" and enjoyed it OK.
You don't get a lesson in history here (a very general but shouldn't you have known before about the Armada?) you get a picturesque vision of history and as such it works. Some twists made me smile. I found it quite amusing that all Roman Catholics look ugly and their behaviour is rather irrational. A comment to the ending - Elisabeth left England in debts (although not bankrupt as Philip did) and the quoted "age of prosperity" led directly to the Civil War half a century later.
Show it to your children - if it makes them interested in history, it's for the best. If they can remember only the date 1588 after the movie it's a sufficient reason to spend an evening together.
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Set some years into the reign of Queen Elizabeth, when religious war was still dividing Europe, this is a film that tries and succeeds to recapture the original magic of the excellent drama Elizabeth. Re-teaming Cate Balnchett as the Queen and Geoffrey Rush as Walsingham we are presented with an entertaining tale as the Spanish launch the Armada against England, backed by a convoluted plot involving Mary, Queen of Scots.

Cate Blanchett recreates the role of Elizabeth beautifully, giving us a character who is a strong ruler and yet still a real person, with a real persons needs and character flaws. Rush is once again superb as the Machiavellian Walsingham. Samantha Morton is a revelation as Mary, Queen of Scots, presenting a character full of dignity in a memorable performance. As well as the political intrigue, we are presented with another personal story for Elizabeth, showing how she deals with her feelings for Walter Raleigh and her jealousy as he goes off with someone else. It's a well scripted, acted and directed piece that manages to contrast the personal with the great threat to the country.

The Director has created a beautiful image of the Elizabethan age, as costume dramas go it is very very well done indeed. My only small gripe is the extent to which script writers and director have played fast and loose with historical accuracy - The names and the general underlying story are about right, but little else. Do not look here if you are searching for the real story of Elizabeth.

That aside, it is as enthralling a two hours of cinema as one could wish for, an adsorbing and entertaining film. Four stars.
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At once more ambitious and less intriguing than its predecessor, Elizabeth: The Golden Age certainly isn't the abject disaster reviewers claimed on its theatrical release, although it's not nearly as engrossing as the original. Unfortunately, while Shekhar Kapur opens up the action and opts for a much lighter palate this time round, with at least a trailer's worth of striking visuals, the results are not particularly compelling. By focusing on the best-known part of the Virgin Queen's reign there's less of the constant sense of danger that marked its predecessor even though it amps up the threat by pitting her not against her own court but the might of the Spanish Empire and its Armada. Yet, being a sequel, it adheres to the `the same but different,' and there's certainly a strong element of déjà vu: the dastardly Catholics are still plotting her death, with Rhys Ifans and Samantha Morton taking on the Daniel Craig and Fanny Ardant roles of Jesuit hitman and conspiring Scottish queen. And, as before, history isn't well served, with the film offering the notion that Philip of Spain conspired to force Elizabeth to execute Mary Queen of Scots to give him an excuse for a holy war.

The script certainly could have been better, running down rather than gaining momentum as the Armada approaches and dropping the ball in many of the obvious slamdunks. Certainly if you're going to omit Elizabeth's famous "I may have the body of a weak and foolish woman, but I have the heart of a king" you need to come up with something with more guts and bravado than the tired horseback speech she gives to rally her troops. Even worse, the Armada itself is something of an anti-climax. The almost painting-like CGi effects aren't as much a problem in a film as occasionally stylised as this as are the all-too obvious budget limitations that reduce it to the odd running commentary that makes it somewhat akin to listening to a football game on the radio.

Performances are highly variable. Blanchett is suitably regal in the lead, with Geoffrey Rush and David Threlfall fare best among the courtiers, but Abbie Cornish makes little impression, Rhys Ifans just seems to be going through the motions and Samantha Morton is fairly awful as Mary. Both bland and risibly hammy at the same time, with her risibly overemphatic delivery she feels like a smug prefect in a school play playing up to the gallery rather than a credible conspiring monarch, giving easily the worst performance in the film even after the worst of her performance hit the cutting room floor. Yet the biggest surprise in the film is Clive Owen's Walter Raleigh.

If at first it seems disastrous casting the zombie-like Owen as the representation of the life and love Elizabeth can never have, but, amazingly, for once he almost rises to the occasion. Like many a bad actor he's utterly hopeless in the moments that aren't about him, looking bored when he's supposed to be listening, displaying complete disinterest in his scenes with Abbie Cornish and sleepwalking through the battle with the Armada, but for once he handles his monologues - the best writing in the film - surprisingly well, even changing his expression a few times, though quite why he chooses to play his early scenes with a bad American accent remains a mystery. It's not a perfect performance (the deleted scenes on the DVD show that his flat delivery and lack of timing botched a gift of a scene with Rush), but for the first time there are signs that if he was willing to really put in the work and had a director who wouldn't mistake talking in a bored Coventry accent for a performance he could be a capable jobbing supporting actor.

The 1.85:1 widescreen transfer is a bit disappointingly short on detail in some scenes, though there are a decent set of extras.
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`Elizabeth: The Golden Age' is the perfect example of history as entertainment and although the authenticity of the history may take second place to the entertainment, this still makes for engrossing viewing. Following Queen Elizabeth in her middle years this films explores the romance of Sir Walter Raleigh, the Catholic assassination plots, Mary Queen of Scots treason and the Spanish Armada. The costumes and sets are stunning and are the key aspects that really makes this film. Blanchett's performance is as good as the first film (which you don't have to have seen to enjoy this film) and the supporting cast do an ample job at providing the drama and intrigue to the storylines. Clive Owen is especially good as the lovable rogue, Raleigh, and is very credible after seeing him in less impressive roles in other films. The veracity of the history may be in doubt, but the adventure and drama in the story more than make up for this and as long as you are aware of it, this film makes for a couple of hours of good viewing. Worth a try if you enjoyed the first instalment.

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I wanted to see this film when it was in the theatres, but it seemed it was gone in the blink of an eye. Having watched this long-awaited DVD, I can see why it had a short run.

I loved the prequel, "Elizabeth", and had eagerly looked forward to this sequel. Upon viewing it, I was a tad disappointed. It totally omits a pivotal character, Robert Dudley, the Earl of Leicester, the man who was Elizabeth's confidante and played a vital role in the events of the day. Instead, the screenplay chooses to focus on a supposed romance between Sir Walter Raleigh and Elizabeth, which plays itself out against the backdrop of a serious threat of war with Spain. Unfortunately, this supposed romance simply does not ring true, striking a false note, and therein lies the rub. The screenplay was poorly written, and the film came across as choppy and poorly edited. Consequently, unless one is familiar with the historical events of the day, the viewer might find the plot confusing. On the plus side, the costumes, the sets, and, above all, the acting were magnificent.

Cate Blanchett, as always, is terrific as Elizabeth, although she looked like a woman in her thirties rather than one supposedly in her fifties, which has a somewhat jarring effect. Geoffrey Rush is once again excellent in the role of Sir Francis Walsingham, Elizabeth's spymaster. Clyde Owen makes for a very virile and dashing Sir Walter Raleigh, while Abbie Cornish is delightful as Elizabeth "Bess" Throckmorton, the Queen's lady-in-waiting and Raleigh's true love.

While I love period films, I would recommend that one rent, rather than buy, this DVD. Although I enjoyed the film, somewhat, I was torn between awarding it three or four stars. In the end, however, the crappy script overwhelmed the efforts of its stellar cast. I only hope that if there is to be another sequel that the script rises to the level of the talented cast. Unfortunately, here it does not.
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The first Elizabeth film was a hard act to follow, and I do not think THE GOLDEN AGE managed it. Perhaps it is the lack of double-dealing and both domestic and foreign opposition that makes GOLDEN AGE less exciting; but by definition that is how golden ages are. The Throgmorton Plot got detected without much bother and that was pretty much it for Walsingham. Sir Walter Raleigh as the love interest came over rather woodenly. The Armada scenes should have given historians colliptions. And it all this less than stellar stuff they fail to use the actual Tilbury Address which is one of the finest pieces written by an English monarch.

It does not help the film that Glenda Jones and Vanessa Redgrave cast long shadows for both queens.

The costumes were magnificent and the hellburners amidst the Invincible Armada was a fine moment.
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on 18 September 2008
As a visual spectacle this film is wonderful.
As a historical drama it is interesting but rarely exciting.I didn't really believe in the characters being portrayed in this film - particularly those in the royal circle - because they seemed to interact too freely and frivolously which in those ruthless authoritarian times could result in your head getting chopped off.However I would recommend the film to you because it builds to a satisfying conclusion and there is a terrific fight sequence between the spanish armada and the english navy with sir walter rayleigh and sir francis drake showing their mettle.An educational film - the clothing,furniture,paintings,buildings etc are historically accurate and the key events and speeches are historical fact.
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on 26 December 2007
I waited in anticipation for this movie to be released at the cinema,I counted the days.. and to be honest i was not dissapointed, i read reviews and was a little unsure about going but it did not stop me.. and i am truly glad it didnt. i thought it was a great sequel to Elizabeth. a film which i have have watched many times, and this movie will be watched many times also..

The acting is superb espicially by Cate Blanchette, and Geoffrey Rush, i only wish that the Invaision of the Spanish Armarda was longer.. it seemed to come and go in the blink of an eye..they arrived, defeated and it was over.. but the overall movie was a success, if you enjoyed Elizabeth, you wont go wrong with this movie it gives you a small glimpse back to the past.. and what a truly a remarkable Queen Elizabeth was.
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VINE VOICEon 14 June 2008
Cate Blanchet is probably the finest Hollywood actress of her generation and holds this slightly ramshackle epic together through the sheer fire-and-honey intensity of her portrayal of the Virgin Queen. Clive Owen is a dashing - if perhaps overly louche - Raleigh, and the film chooses to focus on the sexual and romantic paradox of their relationship.

This focus is regrettable, since many more interesting things are going on at the time, like, oh, the Armada, the Babington plot - things that the film gives short shrift too, preferring to linger over Raleigh's droopy eyelids and Queen Bess' palpitations. Also, in order to compress everything into a tidy romantic plotline incorporating all the Hollywood touchstones (first meeting... flirtation... misunderstanding... reconciliation... the KISS) the sort of concessions to historical truth made by the first film get thrown out of the window.

But these grumblings need to be set in context. After all, this movie isn't really in the same category as Braveheart [1995] (which stands in the same relationship to the historical wars between England and Scotland as The Lord of the Rings Trilogy does to the history of the First Crusade). This film is both beautiful and moving and, if it doesn't manage to be a history lesson, it certainly conveys an inspirational IMPRESSION of history. No small thanks here must go to the third star of the film: the architectural heritage of Britain. Director Kapur artfully converts the cathedrals at Ely, Wells and Winchester into peerless sets of late Gothic romance, traced through with his trademark delight in light and shadow. Recurring motifs are views through arches, windows and from lofty ceilings: dizzying angles that spotlight the characters as frantic mortals adrift in an unchanging world of eternal stone. Not bad.

This motif is picked up again in the dialogue, which sparkles here a little more brightly than in the first film. Raleigh is presented as the rootless adventurer in a delightful exchange about his Atlantic crossing; Elizabeth's love traps him on land and at court - a neat parallel to her entrapment in the power politics of Renaissance monarchy. The process by which the queen discovers her identity as an ever-virgin icon, a mother to the nation, is strikingly mapped out and, frankly, no woman ever looked better in full Gothic plate armour than Blanchet's Elizabeth at Tilbury - a rare case of the film improving on history, since the actual Elizabeth only went as far as a silver cuirass.

Geoffrey Rush is in loyal support as the devoted spymaster Walsingham and Samantha Morton certainly looks the part as Mary Stuart (though why oh why did they have to give her an anachronistic Scottish accent?) as does Rhys Ifans in evil Catholic mode, effectively rehashing Daniel Craig's psycho-papist from the earlier movie.

With the cast looking great and the locations looking greater, it's curious what the film chooses to ignore. OK, so the "I will not make windows into men's souls" line was used (inappropriately) in the first film, but its absence in the opening privy council scene feels like a gaping wound in the script. And sure, Francis Drake probably didn't insist on finishing his game of bowls at Plymouth Hoe before sailing out to engage the Armada, but it's part of the historical myth and its exclusion feels a little odd, as does the whole relegation of Drake's character in favour of the raffish Raleigh.

Most regrettably, why did the film-makers set an armoured Elizabeth pepping up the yeomanry at Tilbury but skip her deathless exhortation: "I have the body of a weak and feeble woman, but I have the heart and stomach of a king, and of a king of England too!". Did it not fit in with the P.C. subtext of feminine empowerment? Without such a rallying cry, Queenie's speech sounds rather more like the captain of the Upper VI girls hockey team, less like the daughter of Henry VIII.

The Armada is sunk in a dreamlike sequence that sits appropriately with the Queen's-eye vantage point the film adopts, but rather cheats those of us lusting for nautical mayhem and the splintering of Spanish timbers. Nevertheless, the Dons go down into the drink, Raleigh is banished to a domestic shipwreck of a life in exile in Sherborne and Elizabeth finds her radiant apotheosis.

A beautiful and thoughtful film then, flawed only by its subsitution of a Mills & Boon romance for truthful historical events which were, ironically, even more interesting.
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