Elizabeth: The Golden Age – DVD Review


Available at Amazon.com

Director

Shekhar Kapur

Cast

Cate Blanchett ………. Queen Elizabeth I
Geoffrey Rush ………. Sir Francis Walsingham
Clive Owen ………. Sir Walter Raleigh
Jordi MollĂ  ………. King Philip ll of Spain
John Shrapnel ………. Lord Howard
Aimee King ………. Infanta
Susan Lynch ………. Annette
Elise McCave ………. Laundry Woman
Samantha Morton ………. Mary Stuart
Abbie Cornish ………. Elizabeth Throckmorton
Penelope McGhie ………. Margaret
Rhys Ifans ………. Robert Reston
Eddie Redmayne ………. Thomas Babington
Stuart McLoughlin ………. Savage
Adrian Scarborough ………. Calley

The Movie

When the nominations for the Academy Awards were announced, Cate Blanchett accomplished two major things. She joined the ranks of the select few nominated for both acting categories in the same year. She has received her second nomination for the same character, something a smaller few have been able to do. In an era where the same characters are recycled and reused often, to do it well is more noteworthy if only because of the sheer amount of disappointments. It’s more a testament to her acting ability than anything else. The fact that Blanchett has garnered as many Academy Award nominations as she has so far is amazing but isn’t shocking. She is one of the undisputed top British actors of her generation and well on her way to maybe extending that title to being one of the few that can be considered the best of all time. After her career-making performance as Queen Elizabeth in Elizabeth, Blanchett returned to the role for the second chapter in the life and times of one of England’s most celebrated monarchs in Elizabeth: The Golden Age.

This time around, Elizabeth is in the midst of the turbulent years of her campaign. King Philip II of Spain has his eyes set on adding England to the already large Spanish empire. While Elizabeth has to contend with assassins in her court, she has the advances of a dashing pirate (Clive Owen) whose intentions are in her favor but whose deeds only further the rift between England and Spain. And while it shares all of the visual qualities and story-telling manner of the first film, he film’s story-line isn’t as tight as the first one.

Shekhar Kapur is in familiar territory. He has the same star and cast of characters for which to craft his sequel. And his storyline is clear; the first one is about Elizabeth’s evolution into the role of Queen of England and the sequel is about her adapting to being the “Virgin Queen.” This is about her evolution into the woman revered for her role as part of a Golden Age in England. And it’s not as if Cate Blanchett isn’t up for the role.

Her Oscar nomination is deserved, as her Elizabeth has evolved since the last time we saw her. She has grown comfortable in the role and Elizabeth is a stronger, more realized character than before. Blanchett’s ability as an actress has risen considerably since then and so has her interpretation of Elizabeth. It’s chilling at times. Clive Owen matches her in the chemistry department as well; the two radiate next to each other in a forbidden romance. They both are matched, but he’s a man of ill repute and she’s the queen. It can never go anywhere, and both of them know it, yet the lingering is there.

The problem is that the film is a second chapter going somewhere, but the destination is unknown. This is the middle chapter of Elizabeth’s life, ending with the defeat of the Spanish Armada that would be her signature accomplishment, and yet the end feels a bit off because there’s a final chapter to write. We’ve seen her rise, now we’re seeing her at the midway point. All we need to see is the end, which Kapur is obviously moving towards, but he’s at a midpoint in his story.

A/V QUALITY CONTROL

Presented in a Dolby Digital format with a widescreen presentation, the film has a terrific audio/visual presentation. The film has a powerful score, lots of vivid colors and wonderful cinematography that come through clearly on the DVD.

The Extras

Commanding the Winds: Creating the Armada is a look at how the crew created the massive Armadas that take place during the film’s pivotal action sequence. It’s a ten minute sequence that looks at how much of the part is CGI, how much was created by hand, and how much is a fusion of the two. It’s a look at the part that leaves one wanting for more.

Towers, Courts and Cathedrals is a look at the set design. Shooting on location on some historical sites which are still used today, the film-makers had to do a lot of work in minimal time because of many restrictions, as well as take out some of the more modern amenities to make them look period-appropriate and put them back before they were to be used in the morning.

The Reign Continues: Making Elizabeth: The Golden Age is an extended look at the film. While there’s a lot of fluff material inserted in, and there’s not a lot of hard-hitting material, it’s interesting to hear British actors discuss the historical aspects of the film.

Inside Elizabeth’s World is a feature, originally presented by Volkswagen, that is the pure fluff that seemingly was removed from the rest of the extras and placed into this. Nothing of note is said.

Deleted Scenes are included and are cut for a reason. None of them add much back to the film, though there is an impressive scene showing the aftermath of Mary’s decapitation. The scenes are of the same quality as the film in terms of its audio/visual elements

Feature Commentary from Director Shekhar Kapur

The DVD Lounge’s Ratings for Elizabeth: The Golden Age
CATEGORY
RATING
(OUT OF 10)
THE MOVIE

7.0
THE VIDEO

8.5
THE AUDIO

8.5
THE EXTRAS

7.0
REPLAY VALUE

7.5
OVERALL
7.0
(NOT AN AVERAGE)