Elizabeth: The Golden Age (Universal Pictures, PG-13)

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film_elizabeth_sm.jpgShekhar Kapur has built the movie around lush imagery that firmly puts the audience in Elizabeth's world, but sometimes he goes overboard with the creativity.







Queen Elizabeth (Cate Blanchett) has matured quite a bit since we first saw her in the 1998 film that bore her name. No longer a young woman easily enticed by love; she has sworn herself to her country, body and soul.

Elizabeth has also become a powerful leader, but Elizabeth: The Golden Age finds her and her beloved country threatened. The catholic king of Spain has set his sites on destroying England's "godless" protestant queen, and claiming the country for his young daughter.

Elizabeth: The Golden Age is filled with stunning visuals. Every costume, hairstyle and palace suite appears painstakingly researched and orchestrated. Unfortunately, the execution of all these gorgeous details seems to have outweighed the importance of cohesive storytelling for the filmmakers.

The basic idea of The Golden Age is packed with intrigue, but director Shekhar Kapur and writers William Nicholson and Michael Hirst (with Hirst and Kapur both returning from the original) don't know how to make the most of the material.

I can't say what of the writers work may have been left out in the editing of the movie, but as it stands Elizabeth: The Golden Age is choppy, disjointed and kind of boring. Scenes of international conspiracy are interspersed with those of Elizabeth slowly falling in love with adventurer Sir Walter Raleigh (Clive Owen). The problem with this is approach is that neither story line flows. Because of it, the film comes off more like a PBS special where the scholarly discussions of Elizabeth's life are absent.

Kapur, for his part, has built the movie around lush imagery that firmly puts the audience in Elizabeth's world, but sometimes he goes overboard with the creativity. He has moments where he embraces his artistic license without thinking about what a scene can do to move the story forward. One such scene shows King Philip of Spain (Jordi Molla) praying. As he approaches the alter in a cathedral, Kapur zooms in so that we only see Philip from the eyes up. And he leaves us there; focused on Philip's forehead. It's certainly one of the more interesting scenes in awhile, but it does nothing for the film as a whole. Instead of being impressed by Kapur's daring, I just ended up thinking he was some kind of oddball.

By far the best part of Elizabeth: The Golden Age is the work done by Blanchett. She has an immense quality that comes across so well in this role that there are times where her performance actually gave me chills. Watching her bitch out a Spanish ambassador was the most enjoyable thing in the movie. You never doubt her as regal, in control and commanding...except when she wants you to. | Adrienne Jones

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