Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Mike the Boss - Films of 2010 - Film the Seventh: Elizabeth: The Golden Age

Elizabeth: The Golden Age (2007) (dir: Shekar Kapur)

I was surprised when the Indian film director, Shekhar Kapur, got the go ahead to make a sequel to the very good 1998 film Elizabeth. The sequel got savaged fairly brutally by the critics so I did not bother to watch it when it first came out. However, having just watched Cate Blanchett act her ass off in Notes on a Scandal, I decided I'd take the plunge on Elizabeth: The Golden Age and see for myself.

The first film dealt with the beginning of Elizabeth's reign and so we had a lot of political intrigue and romance as she rose to power. While the second movie does have elements of the first, it focuses more on creating Elizabeth into a historical action hero. In fact, young Isabella, princess of Spain, actually has a doll of Elizabeth which I'm sure is meant to be demeaning towards England's queen but ends up seeming more like an modern day action figure as the movie progresses. The political intrigue revolves around Spain and Mary, Queen of Scots. The romance revolves around Elizabeth and Sir Walter Raliegh (played by Clive Owen). Those two plot lines spin into the action climax of the British Navy versus the Spanish Armada.

As with any good costume drama, Blanchett gets to wear increasingly outlandish and beautiful outfits with an ever changing hair style all due her massive collection of wigs. The sets are absolutely gorgeous, the CGI for the actions scenes are well done and the acting performances are pretty good. With all of that, I'm a little confused as to why the critics went cold on this film. I suspect that they were expecting a bit more of the understatement and quietness that the first movie had but Khapur is from India and he brings a fun Bollywood sensibility to this second film.

I will admit I am a sucker for the big Queens of England. I have immense admiration for Elizabeth I and Victoria (and Elizabeth II as well). Sure they were able to rule by their birthright but think about it, they were women, ruling men, in a time when women really didn't have many options. You think it is tough now being a women in a position of power? Try being in charge of one of the most powerful countries in the world 450 years ago! Elizabeth was a badass, no doubt about it. If she wasn't, she wouldn't have lasted. While I doubt she looked as good as Blanchett did in her suit of armor (and Blanchett does indeed look damn fine), I'm sure she'd kick the ass of any modern day man without even breaking a sweat. Elizabeth: The Golden Age is good movie that is easy on the eyes, a little superficial in the plot but well acted and worth a watch. I can only hope we get a third act 10 years from now.

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