I saw Elizabeth: The Golden Age last night with Ramiro, Jared, Nicole, Vanessa, and Raymond. Raymond and I saw the original Elizabeth together oh so many years ago, so it was quite fitting that we should see this one too!
My initial reaction. The first one was better. The Golden Age looked absolutely gorgeous, from costumes to set designs to location shots to the destruction of the Spanish Armada – absolutely visually stunning! But the story was kind of a snoozer. Who knew that palace intrigue could be boring? The entire Mary Stuart plotline needed to be better paced. We all knew where it was heading; couldn't they have resolved it more speedily and focused more on the actual war? That would have made the film ten times more exciting.
Clive Owen. Ah well I love Clive, he's super yummy, but his Sir Walter Raleigh was super cheesy. Was he trying to emulate Errol Flynn? Maybe, but he reminded me more of Kevin Kline as Errol Flynn in the movie "Chaplin." (Does anyone get what I mean by that? Yeah, I don't know if I do either but I just keep picturing Kevin Kline!) It was all I could do not to laugh out loud during his whole "this is what crossing the ocean and discovering the new world is like" speech. Gag me. The writers tried too hard to make him a strong, romantic, daring character but he came off as arrogant and a little snide. It also led them to bring on the historical inaccuracies by placing him on a lead ship during the Armada battle. Um, Sir Walter Raleigh wasn't involved in that capacity. But didn't it look cool to see Clive set his boat on fire, swing on a rope, dive into the water and swim to safety? I know we are watching the film for entertainment and not a history lesson, so this is the only historical inaccuracy I will point out.
The Guy who played King Phillip II of Spain. What the hell was up with this guy? Yes, I understand that Phillip suffered from gout and was a devout Catholic, but this (over) actor sporting those spindly little legs, shuffling around like he had shackles around his ankles, talking like a crazy person and clutching his bible was simply ridiculous! Watching him was like watching a member of Monty Python play the part.
The music. There was an overuse of score in this film. It felt like the music was on a constant swell. There was no subtlety and no quiet, which believe it or not is sometimes welcome in a film! A good script, a good director, and good actors should be able to evoke the right emotions out of an audience at the right time without using the music to dictate every little thing! A score should blend in and enhance a film, not overwhelm and beat it down.
Cate Blanchett. She may well be my favorite actress right now and owned the screen as Elizabeth. What that woman can do with just a twinkle of her eye is amazing! She saved this movie for me making it worth staying awake through my boredom and sailing the seas of cheese to watch her chew up her co-stars, the dialogue, and the scenery and spit it all back out! I just wish the writers had given her more to work with.
Ultimately I am going to blame the writers for the failure of this film. I understand that they wanted to show Queen Elizabeth as a real woman with vulnerability, fear and doubts but they went about it the wrong way. They focused too much on this silly love triangle and turned the film into a soap opera instead of showing what Elizabeth was really up against politically and emotionally as the ruler and defender of an Empire. It was called Elizabeth: The Golden Age but the film was so focused on her internal life that it didn't reveal what exactly was so golden about England during that Age. I feel like there was a missed opportunity here.
To sum up: Cate and all the visuals from costumes to cinematography - fantastic. The rest of the movie? Meh.