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Monday, April 22, 2024

"Elizabeth: The Golden Age" was like a long walk in the park.

Not one of those pleasant walks in the park, mind you - more like the kind where you wander off the path through the trees, fall off a cliff, get lost, break an arm, fend off a bear, break the other arm and then sit under a tree and cry.

The movie was listless and long, which is saddening because the original "Elizabeth" was so splendid.

The movie went wrong at several turns. The first was in its portrayal of Queen Elizabeth herself. She was one of the most powerful women ever. She commanded the respect of her nation as well as her rivals and had a glorious reign. Instead, director Shekhar Kapur paints her as an indecisive, lovesick woman who borders on schizophrenia. Cate Blanchett does what she can with the role but is nowhere near as effective as she was in the first film.

Summarizing the plot is a bit of a challenge, but I think I can get away with saying it's about Elizabeth's relationship with Sir Walter Raleigh (Clive Owen), set against the impending invasion of the Spanish Armada. Oh, and there's a bit about her cousin, Mary Queen of Scots. And there's the battle itself. Actually, there was also a bit about one of her maidens and her relationship with Sir Walter Raleigh. And also something about her adviser, Sir Francis Walsingham (Geoffrey Rush) and his family. Really, there are about 10 other things I could list off.

Due to the scatterbrained nature of the movie, it's hard to care about anything really going on. I was left pondering why particular shots were chosen to be so obviously distracting (perhaps the cinematographer was a bored as I was).

The movie would have been at least passable were it not for the last half hour. The battle between the Brits and the Armada is terrible. Kapur should stick to drama. The action scenes were disjointed and looked cheap. They were, of course, rivaled by the atrocious rallying speech given by Elizabeth before the battle begins. I'm guessing that was the influence of writer William Nicholson (of "Gladiator" and "First Knight" fame).

"Elizabeth: The Golden Age" probably should have been two movies. The first one can lead up to the war with Spain, containing all the intrigue and politics that were so fascinating in the first movie, and the second, helmed by a different director - say, Ridley Scott - can focus solely on the battle with the Armada.

"Elizabeth: The Golden Age" is a shame and a disappointment. I can only really recommend it to Elizabeth-ophiles. Everyone else can pretty much steer clear.

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