“Elizabeth and Walter sitting in a tree..”_ Elizabeth: The Golden Age _ Title: Elizabeth: The Golden Age

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“We mortals have many weaknesses; we feel too much, hurt too much or too soon we die, but we do have the chance of love.” These words are spoken by Sir Walter Raleigh to Elizabeth I in the new film Elizabeth: The Golden Age. With a great cast of historical characters including Queen Elizabeth I, Mary – Queen of Scots, and Sir Walter Raleigh; The Golden Age combines romance and political intrigue in a visually stunning theater presentation. Set in the late 16th century Europe when the King of Spain was dead set to restore England to Catholicism it makes for a fabulous history refresher as well.

Cate Blanchett (Queen Elizabeth I) and Geoffrey Rush (Sir Francis Walsingham) reprise their roles from the seven-time Academy award-nominate Elizabeth. Clive Owen joins them as Sir Walter Raleigh, the new world adventurer who discovers the heart of the Queen and Samantha Morton gives an award winning supporting actress performance as Mary – Queen of Scots. Though she has the least amount of screen time her performance is captivating and menacing as Elizabeth’s throne hungry Cousin.

This film has moments of greatness that teeter nervously on the brink of catastrophe. Sort of like the drunk uncle who is very flamboyant but any moment could cross the line to uncomfortable embarrassment. Cate’s Elizabeth is majestic with regal intensity but every so often she would almost come across campy and over the top. It was subtle and possibly non-existent. But there was that fear that it was heading that way. I blame the director for any flaws as for the most part it was spot on and delivered with the normal Blanchett brilliance. Owen was a nice choice for Raleigh and balanced Elizabeth’s royalty with his own earthiness.

If anything wasn’t working in this telling it was the amount of characters and side stories. You have to pay attention to keep up with your favorite part. I wanted to see more of the political game with Mary, yet the softer side of the Queen and her relationship with Raleigh was an intriguing emotional look at royal life. The final conflict between Spain and England would be a stunning film all its own but here had to be summarized for time. These choices made a few of the final scenes feel like an afterthought instead of a climactic finale.

All that said the fact remains that this is one of the most visually stunning films I have seen in some time. The art direction and custom department used color and period garb as a living, breathing character and used this element to bring power and depth to the film. There is something about movies of this style that the big screen was made for. They are larger than life and Elizabeth: The Golden Age is no exception.

It is rated PG-13 for violence, some sexuality and nudity. The nudity is non-sexual consisting of 3 seconds of a nude female backside. The same with the sexuality making it modest in its dialogue and filming. The thematic elements are the main concern and those under 13 may find it feels more like a Freshman History class than a fun theater experience. Still I must give it 4 out of 5 crowns. I felt it was a nicely done look at England and her queen.

Matt Mungle (matt@mungleshow.com)(10/12/07)

“Matt is a member of the North Texas Film Critics Association (NTFCA) and co-hosts a weekly radio feature, The Mungles on Movies, with his wife Cindy. For additional reviews, interview clips and great DVD giveaways, visit the website www.mungleshow.com”

Review copyright 2007 Mungleshow Productions. Used by Permission.

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