Thematically, the film suffered for a number of reasons. In this day and age of religious strife, to pit Elizabeth, the white English Protestant who supposedly (in the film) supports freedom of belief (nothing could be further from the historical truth) against the swarthier, Arabic looking religious fundamentalist Philip of Spain (note: his Arabic appearance is historically accurate, but still) creates an uncomfortably clear reductionist parallel to modern conflicts that detracts from the film. Philip giggles like a madman the whole time, clutching his Bible.
Moreover, in attempting to make Elizabeth an accessible woman, the film focuses so much on her 'feminine vulnerabilities' and need for love that it drains her of the power and political astuteness that marked one of the greatest leaders, male or female, that the world has ever known. Elizabeth I was a POWERFUL POLITICIAN, not a giggling girl simpering at the feet of a man.
When the film focuses on the political intrigues and the decisive destruction of the Spanish Armada, it shines. When it focuses on the love triangle and reductionist religious fundamentalism, it fails. Sadly, so much of the film focuses on the latter that it is a trial to make it through the two hours.