Elizabeth: The Golden Age

We may have forgotten, but while 16th Century Europe was ablaze with the Catholic Inquisition, Protestant England stood apart. Queen Elizabeth I refused to either jail or punish her citizens for their beliefs, only for their actions. As a result, so long as English Catholics were law-abiding citizens, she gave no permission to jail them. Furthermore, she had no intention of converting to Catholicism.

Cate Blanchett ("Bandits," "The Aviator" as Katharine Hepburn, "Babel" and "Elizabeth") returns once again as the legendary Elizabeth I, Queen of England. I doubt if lightening will strike twice; I don't see an Oscar for this turn around the block, although she is once again, her regally professional self and convincingly authentic as the queen who must find her way through a morass of political, familial and religious conflicts that made the Elizabethan Era such a fascinating time. Elizabeth is, in turns, feminine and needy, angry and regal, decisive and heroic.

Clive Owen ("Greenfingers" and "Children of Men"), as Sir Walter Raleigh, is not quite as suave as Errol Flynn's Essex in "Elizabeth and Essex" but he buckles his swash in his most appealing role to date.

Geoffrey Rush ("Pirates of the Caribbean" and "The Banger Sisters") - another Aussie - returns as Elizabeth's trusted advisor, Sir Francis Walsingham, who is hoodwinked into entrapping the imprisoned Mary Stuart, into a plot to overthrow Elizabeth. This automatically condemns her to death, thus provides the Catholic King of Spain, Philip II, with a perfect rationale to attack Protestant England. Ya got that so far? This intricate spy network was a little too intricate for THIS viewer... of course court intrigue is always conducted in whispers, and you know my hearing!

Samantha Morton ("Jane Eyre") is perfect as Elizabeth's saintly but conniving cousin, Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots...although the scene of her beheading is too long by half!

The scenes of the approach of the Spanish Armada and the subsequent battle are done with a minimum of CGI. And don't last very long...whew!

This is historical drama, no more and no less...granted the historical era depicted determined the direction of our own history... The costumes, scenery and production values are top drawer, so it is what it is. I liked it...sorta...