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Overall I enjoyed the movie. There have been too many recent films
about the Tudors and Elizabeth in particular, but this film looks good
and it keeps you entertained. It's set at the time of the Spanish
Armada in 1588. Elizabeth is shown as tough, smart, and married to her
country. She also suffers from bouts of insecurity and irrational
jealousies. This film is more hagiographic and melodramatic than its
The film tends to ignore the facts when they get in the way of the story. Elizabeth was 55 at the time of the Spanish Armada and she was never a looker. Blanchett's Queen is youngish and attractive. Blanchett's acting performance is powerful and impressive but also a bit stagy. The way the politics of the time are depicted is a bit too black and white. The Spanish look grim and are dressed in dark colors. They are portrayed as crazy, religious zealots. Spain had a right to be upset at English privateers / pirates who attacked their ships and stole their gold. Mary, Queen of Scots is shown as a dowdy, schemer who disliked Elizabeth. The reality was that Mary was a pretty bimbo who made bad choices when it came to men.
Parts of the film veer too much towards soap-opera. Sir Walter Raleigh (Clive Owen)becomes a favorite, but when Bess Throckmorton, one of the Queen's ladies-in-waiting and Raleigh get secretly married, Elizabeth becomes jealous and behaves badly. Later, Raleigh and Francis Drake are shown defeating the Spanish at sea. In reality Raleigh was looking after the coastal defenses in the South West of England and didn't marry Throckmorton until 1591. The real Raleigh was a brilliant man: soldier, explorer, writer, poet and courtier and probably deserves his own film. The film is good fun but it's simplistic, cartoon history.
This rates as high as it does for me because of the cinematography. It
is dazzling and Blanchett can't be denied, but "Elizabeth: The Golden
Age" is like a chick-flick with explosions plus costumes, super hair,
and loud, intrusive music. The result is faux epic.
My wife summed it up well as we left the theater: "I feel like I've just flipped through a coffee table picture book for two hours and somebody turned up the stereo." History wrote this plot but Nicholson and Hirst thought they could do better. They couldn't, or certainly didn't. Freshmen composition classes come up with better stuff. Trite, forced, predictable. Did they even run this by an expert in English history? You gotta wonder. The script is oozing with 21st century mores and clichés. It made me think (during the movie, mind you) of the way Dutch painters depicted Homer and Aristotle in the garb of 17th century Holland. Are we that dumb? Sir Walter Raleigh is a caricature and Sir Francis Drake, never properly introduced, was a throwaway. Geoffrey Rush is wasted as Walsingham. Come to think of it, nearly everybody is wasted. Every single character is underdeveloped, with the possible exception of the title characterpossible exception.
"Golden Age" set the target high and then turned and fired in the opposite direction. Realizing the script had missed, Director tried to make up for it with window dressing. Substance would have served this queen better. With the colon in the title, I almost expected to see Bruce Willis saving the day.
You can see why "Golden Age" came out in October because it's not going to compete for Oscars in categories that anybody cares about. With all the budget they had for this movie, you'd Universal could have found better writers.
Another Elizabeth I film? Why not? The Elizabethan Era's, indeed, a
fascinating periods in English history - an era when England was
relatively well off compared to other nations even if its wealth was
Director Kapur interestingly puts dramatic and chilling appeal and emphasis on Elizabeth's Golden Age to reveal her personality and struggles to keep her throne and save her country from falling into the hands of conspirators and invaders. Does he give his audience any insight into the Golden Age when English Literature, poetry, music, theater, architecture, scientific and technological advancement, and exploration expansion flourished? Nope. His film does offer some interesting hints that women did enjoy the freedom of movement (ah ha, even a queen's closest and dearest lady-in-waiting could play cuckold to her mistress' favorite man!) and that competing interests and ambitions of colonial powers made it easy for ambitious sailors to legalize acts of piracy! Serious crimes could well resort in severe tortures. Director Kapur does stress that she was the "peoples" queen!
The story continues from where Cate Blanchett's young, flighty, and reckless Elizabeth made her finale masculine-like entrance in the prequel, "Elizabeth", as the Virgin Queen with her face heavily laced with the 'white-as-milke' make-up - an image of a queen ready to lead her citizens.
At a deliberate slow pacing, the introduction with its scenes, characters and their dialog prepare the audience to receive Elizabeth as the Queen with a more focused, more rigid personality, in charge of hers and her country's destinies. Yep, a woman with ready suitors, but offering a sense that she is wedded to her Empire! She seems very philosophical in her ideals and yet we see her court filled with sorts of political characters. Elizabeth, then, is seen with roving eyes, easily distracted by the presence of attractive men. Indeed, it's a crafty way to introduce Elizabeth before Director Kapur plunges his audience into a compelling tale of treachery, assassination attempts and romance that affects the Virgin Queen during her reign.
The film carries a mix of intriguing historical facts, legends and myths in ways that one can only expect history teachers of English public schools to apply to make their lessons interesting, or hear from gossipy English peers, from history classes, wanting to impress their friends with stranger-than-fiction tidbits and hearsay of those times. This film does promise a refreshing tale to grasp! There are those tongue-in-cheek whims and antics that mischievously provoke thoughts of the political and religious changing tides of modern times. Director Kapur has certainly avoided the creation of a history epic, based on dull, dry substance!
Blanchett is magnificent in her strange, enigmatic and multi-dimensional character, constantly faced with the challenges of her foes plotting and counter-plotting to take her down at her Court, in her government, and, from foreign lands. She's seen as almost as a brutal ruler at times and on her consistent guard in her determination to hold on to her throne, alternating between her seemingly vicious whims, her heroism and tangled romantic emotions! Yet, she comes off gracefully as a person who has the heart to forgive. Oh yes, there's also that scene that prompts me to think of Joan of Arc! It's not hard to want to cheer for the Queen in her determination to fight against the religious intolerance, barbarism and fundamentalism of the Spanish Inquisition. Spain was a very powerful Catholic foe and the Church did try to destroy this Protestant Queen and to restore England back to Catholism!
The battle in the calm-to-storm scene is exhilarating to watch. We also witness her struggles in her attempt to balance her duties to her country and her vulnerability to infatuation and tempestuous relationship. Clive Owens superbly handles his role as the dashing Walter Raleigh indeed, one of the most colorful and controversial character of the times and of whom English history has spun numerous tales about. This film also charts Raleigh's colonizing dreams, his involvement in a love triangle, his sweeping in and out of the Queen's favor and his immense dislike for Catholics - that did historically determine his fate beyond this film's exposure. Geoffrey Rush returns as the loyal and polished spy master, Sir Walsingham and historically seen as the man who attracted conspiracy theories. Hhhmh, was he responsible for the birth of modern espionage? He's truly fascinating to watch. This film has a great stellar cast of actors who don't disappoint. There's so much on-screen chemistry oozing out between characters in this film. Oh yes, the villains are so agitating and annoying to the core.
The background music soundtracks come across as dramatically bold and nail-biting, poignant at times, and emotionally mystifying at others- appropriately matching the many guises, moods and whims of the Virgin Queen the cold and strong and always majestic personality vs .her sentimentally vulnerable images - and also effectively reinforce the moments of gripping horrors of the events witnessed or felt. The sounds do have an interesting mix. Some of the scenes really deliver visual cinematic effects that remind me of the paintings of the period. The somber settings work beautifully to support and give intensity to the horrifying scenes and moments. Just love the way the sets and backgrounds are crafted to avoid overshadowing the characters. Oh yes, I love the color schemes presented in this movie to bring credibility to the scenes! The naval battle and Sir Walters' underwater escapade are so fabulously and stunningly crafted - without going over-the-board with extreme flashy special effects and colors to highlight the events.
I was captivated from beginning to end. Oh yes, this film does entertain, sending me on a delightfully exciting spell-bound journey in my attempt to separate legend and myths from historical facts. Oh yes, this film will make English history fun to browse all over again. Yep, I was absolutely entertained!!!
Don't believe the poor reviews "Elizebeth: The Golden Age" has
While it may be true the film is not historically correct, most of us do not go to the movies for a history lesson. We go to be entertained. On that basis, this film is a winner. It has romance, intrigue and betrayal. It is basically a melodrama.
The photography is great, although sometimes the director gets carried away with the camera movements. The orchestral score in fine, although it is overwhelming at times. The acting is absolutely first rate.
I thought that "Elizebeth: The Golden Age" was more entertaining than any of the "Pirates of the Carribian" movies. If you want an entertaining movie that is geared more towards adults than children, then you should check the movie out.
With a dream cast, a fascinating subject, and a budget larger than a
pirate's booty, this film could have been great. But the chance is
(Pros:) The cast is definitely the film's biggest asset. Cate Blanchett is incredibly brilliant even at times that the script fails to provide her with a worthy line. Her powerful performance is utterly captivating. Clive Owen's Walter Raleigh is as dashing as a man can be. As the man who charmed the Queen out of her heart and wits and dared to tell her not to act like a fool, Owen's Raleigh is daring at times, vulnerable at others, but always compelling and spectacular. Geoffrey Rush makes the best out of the very little that he's given to work with and Abbie Cornish and Samantha Morton are each great in their parts.
It's also worth a mention that the costumes and the locations are spectacular, paired with a few moments of good story-telling (only if those moments would last all through the film) they make a few absolutely extraordinary scenes. Another great characteristic of this film is it's subtlety, the emotions that are there yet not talked about, the wishes, feelings, disappointments, desires, and fears that are only hinted are the best parts of an otherwise disappointing story-telling.
(Cons:) Sloppy editing, campy scenes, and poor writing are what mostly hurts the film. Unfortunately the film's precious time is spent on side-stories that could have easily been discarded, and consequentially, not enough time is spent on the development of the main story. Everything that happens after Sir Walter meets Elizabeth seems forced. Vague at times, the film seems to be in rush to hit certain notes at certain times. Elizabeth meets Walter and a few lines later she's mad about him, so is Bess and so on. The audience is not given the chance to feel or take in what's really happening, not even enough time to get to know the characters let alone feel what they are going through. At times, it seemed as though many of the scenes were cut short in the editing room and had lost their essence in the process. (If that's the case, lets hope the DVD includes the director's cut.)
The film could have benefited from more climax and action (the battle is barely touched), (other than a few great scenes) most of the story is told through conversations in closed areas. More than anything, the writers leaned on poetic lines to deliver their story. Also, for all it's subtlety, the film takes sides so obviously that it hurts any chances it had at reaching some level of realism or fairness. For instance, not only Phillip of Spain is utterly evil, he's one ridiculous, petty, dim character.
Overall, the cast certainly makes the experience worthwhile, and as long as one does not expect absolute greatness or historical accuracy, this film can be great entertainment for most.
Cate Blanchett reprises her role as the Virgin Queen, Elizabeth I, and
is the film's greatest highlight. She exudes power, strength and
influence in portraying the 16th century monarch. Her commanding
presence on the screen really gives the majestic qualities that the
real queen certainly had. At the same time, she gives us a personal
glance inside the woman's heart, where she has suppressed from public
view an inner vulnerability and melancholy. Elizabeth certainly endured
many sorrows, and this portrayal gives us a glance inside the woman's
who carried all this upon her shoulders, and is credited with raising
England to prominent status on the world stage.
In addition to Blanchett, the supporting cast all turn in superior work. The sets, costuming, and period speech are all mastered well, creating a true feel for the era being depicted. Although many of the people and events are real, a few liberties have been taken apparently to spice up the drama. Such fictionalizing probably wasn't necessary; enough happened during this queen's rule to make the story interesting without it. One example: the flashy Sir Walter Raleigh was indeed a favorite of the queen, but this movie puts them in a romantic triangle that just gets in the way of other things going on. Also, Raleigh, better known as an explorer, was not the hero in the battle with the Spanish Armada.
Blanchett shines when she delivers the famous speech to the troops on the eve of the Spanish invasion. But even she is burdened by the director's preoccupation with Elizabeth as a suffering angst-filled woman facing middle-age with less bravery than facing the world's most powerful fleet at that time. We get endless views of her taking her wig off in secret, and staring at a mirror. The first time this device is used is fine to get the point across of her hopeless situation of never taking a husband (and the slow advance of time having its way), but we see her looking like a shriveled ghost in too many such scenes, and it's way overdone in this context. Her "real" hair sans the wig looks like an inebriated Edward Scissorhands was her hairdresser, and her pale complexion looks like somebody pasted white-out all over her face.
Those few mistakes notwithstanding, this is a fine biopic with superior acting by Blanchett, and is recommended.
This movie approaches the brink of becoming another corny, hokey Hollywood travesty but recovers to become an incredibly powerful and unique portrayal of Elizabeth I and her closest advisers and the political situation in Western Europe in the late 16th century. Cate Blanchett offers a masterful, powerful and provocative portrayal of the Virgin Queen which unlike most Hollywood portrayals of historical personages does not devolve into a laughable caricature. Elizabeth has feelings too and cares about ALL of her people, not just those who are of her religious persuasion. Also, the movie offers a credible portrayal of Elizabeth's relationship with her cousin Mary as well as a credible and comprehensible explanation of King Philip's decision to go to war against England. Whether Spain in 1585 was the most powerful country in the world as the movie purports is a matter for debate but the fact that there was a time in history when Spain actually wanted to invade England is amazing and is a story in itself. This movie is worth watching.
I hadn't heard too much about this film, but had seen the posters for
it, so I gave it a shot. And after leaving the theatre I really wasn't
sure what to say about it.
There's a lot of good stuff in this film, but there're some pitfalls as well. On the plus side the sets and costumes are magnificent. A great deal of care and love when into the art direction to bring us an Elizabethan renaissance film, replete with court intrigue and foreign emissaries who threaten invasion because of high seas thievery courtesy Clive Owen's character. Visually this film is very lush and impressive, though somewhat confining at times. We're never really shown Elizabethan England, just the "important parts" that are salient to the story.
And, as Elizabeth's favorite playwright would say, "there's the rub". And by this I mean that the film is a bit all over the place. It's a costume drama, it's a romance, it's a period political thriller, it's a military epic, and so forth. It even skids the fantasy genre with some of the fancy camera work that was done. But, all in all, the film's primary thrust is to try and grab hold of all of these genres, and tie them together into some kind of cohesive and suscint manner.
The romance, the intrigue, the sisterly emotions, the rivalry between matriarchs, and the "battle scene" hearken back to a time when Hollywood used to crank out these kinds of movies with some regularity. But the context between those films and "Elizabeth: The Golden Age" are nearly day and night, even though both are striving for a high water mark in historical drama.
I thought "Elizabeth: The Golden Age" was technically a competent production. In fact, given the difficulties there must have been getting some of the shots I'll give it high marks as a pure production effort. But as a film I simply found it to be a touch too ambitious, and over-indulgent near the end.
That's not to say that I didn't enjoy a lot of the film, because I did. Blanchet's Elizabeth is a strong woman; full of zest, energy, and a bit of anger, which she levels at her adversaries. But she's also a chief of state, internationalist, and, of course, the queen of England. She doesn't wear several hats. She wears a crown. But even so, and this is where the film falls a bit short, she doesn't demonstrate a cohesive ability to command all. She shows she's in charge, but doesn't act like she's in charge until near the end.
The film was geared and aimed at a female audience (a thing which I had not expected), and so a lot of the energy is directed at that audience, with the appropriate emotional flourishes. Combined with some so-so CGI for the action sequences (and a horse with a perm which almost had me laughing), one wonders where the film was headed. Elizabeth didn't save England with her emotional power alone, and yet this is the gist of the film. It's a real let down in this regard.
The film is a mixed blessing. There's a lot of decent acting, and some exceptional performances by the leads. Married to a rather extravagant art director to bring to life palace, throne room, chambers, and galleons at sea, and one can easily see that this was meant to be a top notch production. But some of the logical loopholes where Blanchet's character is concerned conspire with some of the story loopholes to hold back a better film.
As a guy all I can say is that it's not something I'd watch again, and I'm not too sure I'd recommend it to any female audiences. But, if you don't mind your period dramas skirting the edge of high kamp, then splurge on a ticket, and see what "Elizabeth: The Golden Age" is all about.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
We had been looking forward to seeing this film - and made a point of
re-watching the original 'Elizabeth' from 1998 a week before making the
trip to the theater.
I will say that this film is technically beautiful in the grand cinematic style which was once associated with the epic films from the bygone era of the Hollywood studios with it's fantastic costuming and sets.
But - I am sad to say that this film was a disappointment. It suffers from numerous over-dramatic sequences which rely much too heavily on symbolism. After all, how many times & ways should one be forced to view Cate Blanchett posed in an angelic persona?
Unfortunately, as one sits through this film, one must wonder what the writers & director were thinking. It is obvious that someone was unsure of which direction(s) they wished to steer this film toward - romance, war epic, drama,etc.
The awkwardness of this film projected a feeling that various pages of the script must have been stuck together as it continues along - giving it a feel that can only be described as disjointed and forced.
The problems with this film seem to be caused by a combination of a weak script, bad direction, and bad editing which resulted in this short-changed follow-up to the well-done original 1998 epic of 'Elizabeth'.
Cate Blanchett and the entire cast are good actors & do not disappoint in their character portrayals. But sadly, this film was not up to the performances of these fine actors and we left the theater wondering why the director, the editors, and screenwriters all failed to do their jobs.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Most of the time it's the casting that makes a film and keeps us coming
back for more. This is the case for "The Golden Age", the sequel to
"Elizabeth", a film that turned Cate Blanchett into a star, introducing
her considerable talents to the masses. In "The Golden Age", Blanchett
is given more screen time and the opportunity to show the range she is
capable of, giving us a portrayal that is complex, rich, exquisite, and
As a matter of fact, it's hard to imagine anyone else, having the power this actress is capable of showing on screen. She carries the film, and it's her ability to interact with such varied characters that gives the film its strength. It all depends on the chemistry between her and the talented actors that support her, particularly, Clive Owen's rogue pirate.
"The Golden Age" depicts another critical moment in the life of the Virgin Queen, as she must find the strength in herself to gather the support and strength she needs to save England from a brutal military attack by the Spanish Armada, the most powerful navy at the time. Elizabeth must deal with family issues, ethical issues, sentimental turmoil, another self-confidence crisis, and much more intrigue and attacks from both the Spaniards and their supporters on both sides of the ocean.
There are scenes in this film that will be remembered as perfect examples of what cinema can achieve, as the camera frames key characters during critical times in the story... Most impressive are all the scenes in which Cate participates, as she is able to show the amazing nature of a woman who endured much criticism and political turmoil and eventually transformed herself and her nation into one of the most powerful empires in the world.
There are interesting analogies in the film, particularly as Elizabeth adopts one life over another and allows her spirit to soar, vanquishing any negative impulses and nurture the surrogate child that her country becomes. According to the film, she finds herself incapable of finding an equal mate because of special circumstances, and then she rediscovers the strength that she has always possessed and turns into the leader everyone will respect, follow, and somehow adore.
"The Golden Age" is a very handsome film, with superb production, and some spectacular costumes, exquisitely worn by Ms. Blanchett. It's definitely on its way to becoming a classic, a proud example of what some might call an intimate epic.
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