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Elizabeth: the Golden Age


Stars: Cate Blanchett, Clive Owen, Geoffrey Rush, Abbie Cornish, Rhys Ifans, Samantha Morton, Susan Lynch

Director: Shekhar Kapur

Partially a remake of 1955's The Virgin Queen, this sequel to Elizabeth may be the first UK historical drama with three Australians among its four leads.

The exception is Owen as Sir Walter Raleigh who, despite such dialogue as 'Why be afraid of tomorrow when today is all we have?' is better than one might expect from such a 'now' actor as the dashing sea captain who wins the heart of the Queen (Blanchett repeating her role from the earlier film), but prefers to make a play for her lady-in-waiting Beth (a vapid Cornish in the old Joan Collins role). And it was Raleigh, it seems, and not Drake, who sank the Spanish armada in 1588.

Blanchett is actually too young for Elizabeth, who was 52 when the film opens; however, it's not this but far too much court intrigue and not enough action that, despite the stunningly elaborate costumes and settings, make the film such a dull companion much of the time.

Even the final battle, though it looks good with decent CGI effects, carries little genuine excitement, or sense of knife-edge danger, as Elizabeth, in long chestnut tresses presumably from the royal wigmaker, and body armour straight from Excalibur, leads her troops into battle.

Goof-lovers should look out for the grocer's apostrophe in the subtitle 'Mary, Queen of Scot's'. Ouch!

David Quinlan

UK 2007. UK Distributor: Universal. Colour by deluxe.
112 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 30 Oct 2007