Elizabeth: The Golden Age
The original Elizabeth, while mostly a character study and depiction of a woman becoming a queen, gave fascinating insights into the workings of England in the mid-16th century. Cate Blanchett was stunning—and by the end, her character had secured her title of Virgin Queen. So one would naturally expect the next chapter of her life (actually two decades down the line) to focus on her rule, the Spanish Inquisition and the solidification of the Golden Age. Director Shekhar Kapur apparently had something else in mind. In this sequel, Elizabeth’s life is in great danger. Her cousin, the crown-thirsty Mary Stuart, has hired a band of Jesuits to assassinate her. And Spain threatens holy war. But rather than focus on these events, the film centers around Elizabeth’s courtship with Sir Walter Raleigh (Clive Owen), a scrappy young explorer who has named Virginia after his queen. Yawn. Where’s Elizabeth’s power? Where’s her great leadership? We get glimpses of her strength, for example, when she strategizes with her advisers as to how to defeat the Spanish Armada. But that darn Raleigh keeps getting in the way of her sensibilities, making her appear weak rather than merely human. It’s a shame, really, because the movie’s quite enrapturing without the romantic distraction.