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  Publicity Stills of "Elizabeth: The Golden Age"
(Courtesy from UIP)

Genre: Drama/Historical
Director: Shekhar Kapur
Cast: Cate Blanchett, Geoffrey Rush, Clive Owen, Samantha Morton, Abbie Cornish
RunTime: 1 hr 51 mins
Released By: UIP
Rating: PG (Brief nudity and some violence)
Official Website: www.elizabeththegoldenage.net

Opening Day: 27 December 2007


Golden Age is an historical thriller set against the backdrop of the religious fanaticism of the late 16th century. The story continues 15 years on from the events of Elizabeth and visits the 'Virgin Queen' in the middle years of her reign, exploring her relationship with the adventurer Sir Walter Raleigh.

Movie Review:

It has been a good nine years since we saw Cate Blanchett’s stellar performance as Queen Elizabeth I in Shekhar Kapur’s Elizabeth. It was this Oscar-nominated role that made the world take notice of Blanchett’s talent. The Australian star would go on to take on other real-life heavyweight roles like Veronica Guerin and Katharine Hepburn, with the latter earning her a Best Supporting Actress at the 2005 Academy Awards.

When we learnt of this sequel to the historical drama, we were confident that the multiple award-winning actress will deliver. Blanchett has already earned herself a Best Actress (Drama) nomination at the upcoming Golden Globe Awards. But we didn’t expect the 111-minute movie to lack the splendor and ingenuity of its predecessor.

The story sees the return of Blanchett’s Queen Elizabeth I, having to deal with problems of treason and romance. Being a queen during an era of unrest is a difficult thing: You just don’t know who to trust anymore. Other than the Spanish King Philip II who wants the English throne for his daughter, everyone else seems to have secrets behind their backs: The loyal advisor, the favorite lady-in-waiting and the dashing sea adventurer – what’s the Virgin Queen to do?

The plot does have enough material to make an impressive epic tale, with its themes of betrayal and love surrounding one of history’s most celebrated female leaders. However, as the film plods along, one would realize the movie seems to play out as a parade of well-dressed sequences.

Credit goes to the elaborate costume design by Alexandra Bryne (The Phantom of the Opera, Finding Neverland) and the impressive production design by Guy Dyas (Superman Returns, The Brothers Grimm). The grandeur is evident in Blanchett’s countless wardrobe changes (watch out for a strikingly-designed war armor outfit worn by Blanchett in the movie’s finale) and the palace’s awing presence during many of the movie’s key scenes.

While the film comfortably sells Blanchett’s capable performance as Queen Elizabeth I, the rest of the cast are worth looking out for too. Fellow Australian Geoffrey Rush (Munich, Finding Nemo) plays Her Majesty’s faithful consultant Sir Francis Walsingham with ease. Abbie Cornish is fresh-faced as Her Majesty’s lady servant and Clive Owen is grittily charming as Her Majesty’s love interest. Stealing the limelight whenever she appears on screen, Samantha Morton’s performance as Queen Mary Stuart is chilling yet pleasurable to watch.

Unfortunately, the cast’s remarkable acting goes to waste as director Kapur appears to have focused too much attention on decorating the movie. The pacing becomes distracted and dreary, no thanks to the inevitably talky script. The result is a somewhat pompous work that cannot decide whether it wants to be a movie about deceit, a movie about affection or a movie about battling for your rights.

When the film moves to its excitingly-put-together finale which features the war at sea between the Spanish Armada and the English fleet, it is clear that this is one history lesson we should not take seriously.

Movie Rating:

(A good-looking but unfocused sequel that will not be as well-remembered as its predecessor)

Review by John Li


. Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End (2007)

. Notes On A Scandal (2006)

. King Arthur (2004)

. Elizabeth I DVD (2006)



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