Elizabeth: The Golden Age – A Forgetable History Lesson

Elizabeth: The Golden Age   C

Starring: Cate Blanchett, Clive Owen, and Geoffrey Rush
Directed by Shekhar Kapur (Elizabeth)
Rated PG-13 for violence, some sexuality and nudity
Appropriate for ages 13+

The Story: Many years after the events of the first Elizabeth film, Queen Elizabeth is still entrenched in a battle of religion between the Catholics and the Protestants.  Spain, being the most powerful country in Europe, launches a crusade to dethrone the Queen and convert England into a Catholic state again. 

The Good: As a history lesson, I’ve seen worse.  There is a lot of fiction here, much revolving around Sir Walter Raleigh (Owen), but it’s not enough to make you hate the film.  The performances, especially Blanchett’s, are solid throughout.  The film is beautifully shot and the costumes are a sight to behold.  Also, the music by Craig Armstrong provides for a moving score, although it, and the film, are a little too playful at times.

The Bad: What worked so well for the first Elizabeth was it’s complex and dark tone, full of violence and sexuality.  Much like you would picture England was at that time.  This new pic is very toned down by comparison.  Making this film PG-13 might be great for the kids, but it does nothing for it’s integrity.  Imagine The Sopranos made by NBC.  Imagine Braveheart brought to you by The History Channel.  Imagine Disney’s South Park.  That’s what a PG-13 Elizabeth is like.  It’s a sell-out to make more dough – and I predict it will backfire horribly.  Sure there are other little problems like a painfully long second act, and a frightfully shortened and unexplained third act, but the tone of the film is what brings it down.

The Summary: The Queen has gotten soft and slow.