Elizabeth: The Golden Age
PG-13
Entertainment: +4
Acceptability: +2 1/2

Cate Blanchett, Geoffrey Rush, Clive Owen, Samantha Morton, Abbie Cornish. Historical thriller. Written by William Nicholson & Michael Hirst. Directed by Shekhar Kapur.

FILM SYNOPSIS: Reprising the roles they originated in Elizabeth, Cate Blanchett and Geoffrey Rush return for a historical drama laced with treachery and romance. Joining them in the epic is Clive Owen as Sir Walter Raleigh, a dashing seafarer and newfound temptation for Elizabeth. The Golden Age finds Queen Elizabeth I facing bloodlust for her throne and familial betrayal.Growing keenly aware of the changing religious and political tides of late 16th century Europe, Elizabeth finds her rule openly challenged by the Spanish King Philip II (Jordi Molla) with his powerful sea-dominating armada determined to restore England to Catholicism.

Preparing to go to war to defend her empire, Elizabeth struggles to balance ancient royal duties with an unexpected vulnerability in her love for Raleigh.But he remains forbidden for a queen who has sworn body and soul to her country.Unable and unwilling to pursue her love, Elizabeth encourages her favorite lady-in-waiting, Bess (Abbie Cornish), to befriend Raleigh to keep him near.But this strategy forces Elizabeth to observe their growing intimacy.

PREVIEW REVIEW: A work of art. Simply a stunning cinematic conception. Like classics of old that either accidentally or magically found their filmmaking elements coming together like a perfect recipe, writers William Nicholson and Michael Hirst, director Shekhar Kapur, and all the artists and technicians involved in this production have given moviegoers an exceptional evenings entertainment.

As with all period pieces, costumes and set decoration play a major role in the final cut. But here costumes, art direction, and cinematography are so well used they become atmospheric characters, never overshadowing the production, but effectively harmonizing both story and performances like water colors in a fine Degas.

And what can be said about Cate Blanchett? When given the proper material this is an actress who, like Meryl Streep, takes her profession seriously, paying her craft reverence. Worthy of honors, but this is not a performance done in order to achieve award recognition. It is done, as I said, out of respect for an artistry that can touch the very soul of the audience. In other words, she did good.

As for Clive Owen, I still say hes the best James Bond who never was. Hes simply magnetic, relaying a masculine flourish along with a world weary twinkle that could only be matched by the James Bond, himself, Sean Connery. Mr. Owen seems to share the same veneration of the acting craft as Ms. Blanchett. In a role that could have been one dimensional, he is masterful, yet controlled. During a revealing monologue to the Queen, for instance, his Sir Walter Raleigh punctuates the scene with a lulling description of a sailors view of sea and land, captivating not just Blanchetts Elizabeth, but the audience, as well. You could hear a pin drop, we were that engrossed.

How much of the glory should be given to the films director? Well, all these other elements, including the actors, are the paints. The director is the painter. And Shekhar Kapur brush strokes his story like an artist who shades, highlights, and inserts emotion into a picturesque mural. Renowned in India, Mr. Kapur has yet to distinguish himself in America (The Guru, The Four Feathers). His first Elizabeth, made in 1998, showed skill and promise, but with Elizabeth: The Golden Age its as if this were the project he had been waiting to make. He no doubt will also be recognized come Oscar announcement time.

Interestingly, the story has much to do with Catholicism and Protestantism, or at least the political significance of these Christian religions. Spains King Philip, according to the film, was devout in his Catholic beliefs. He was sure he was meant to defeat Elizabeth, seeing Protestantism as the devils deception. Queen Elizabeth, on the other hand, is portrayed as politically and socially savvy. She wants the two religions to dwell in harmony under her reign, and despite urgings from her court, she wont punish people for their beliefs, only their deeds.

The film has several positive messages, including seeing people devoted to the power of prayer and a queen who eventually seeks and gives forgiveness to others.

Preview Reviewer: Phil Boatwright
Distributor: Universal

Summary
Crude Language: None
Obscene Language: In a fit of jealous rage, the Queen utters several angry expletives, including the films one use of the f-word.
Profanity: I caught no profane use of Gods name
Violence: As the kingdom prepares for war, we see a few people tortured in order to gain information; the scenes are not long, but they depict the suffering of physical torment; these scenes are not suitable for little children; a woman is beheaded for treason; we see the axe raised before the scene cuts away; a man is hanged; during the battle at sea with Spains armada, cannon fire blows people up; in a rage the queen slaps her lady in waiting. Blood: Some blood surrounding the wounds of a tortured person.
Sexual Intercourse: One implied sexual situation that leads to pregnancy; they couple then wed.
Nudity: We see the queen disrobe, seeing her naked from behind; the scene is not meant to be more character revealing than physical.
Homosexual Conduct: None
Sexually Suggestive Action/Dialog: None
Drug Abuse: Sir Raleigh introduces England to tobacco (if he only knew).
Other: None
Running Time: 114 minutes
Intended Audience: Teens and Older

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