By Fred Topel | Images property of Universal Pictures.
Elizabeth: The Golden Age
I normally hate historical period pieces about British queens in corsets and costumes. I liked Elizabeth because I got it. That was a movie about a girl who started out all frail like the usual, but by the end she was the motherf***in' queen of England. The sequel, Elizabeth: The Golden Age is every bit as effective a journey.
Review: Elizabeth: The Golden Age
This film begins with Elizabeth in charge. Her advisors are all worried about her subjects' religious beliefs, but she just tells them all, "That's how it is, bitches!" As the film follows her dealings with Sir Walter Raleigh, Mary Queen of Scots and Spain, it gets deeper and deeper.
I still understand all the dialogue. They're not speaking a foreign language like most historical dramas. They talk about the value of fertility to in national defense. That makes sense. You see what Mary's up to and that makes sense. You hear Walter Raleigh's sales pitch and that makes sense.
Elizabeth is the coolest British monarch ever. She's totally badass. She controls her tough act but lets us see her real side with a wink or a girlie banter in private. You see her as human too, vulnerable but not weak. She falls apart when Walter Raleigh messes her up. Cate Blanchett distinguishes each subtle change on her face so she's speaking a visual language lest anyone be lost in the politics.
Walter Raleigh comes in as the cool, seductive rogue. That's our Clive Owen. Walsingham (Geoffrey Rush) is still at her side but less of an orchestrator this time. He has much less to do which is a shame.
There are no big battles until the end. That's not the kind of movie this is. All the tensions and plots remain the focus but those are gripping. It's also artistic and impressionistic with swelling music and visual metaphors.
This is how history should be taught. I actually understand what happened in England and Spain in the 1500s. No teacher of mine ever got that across to me. We get involved in history when it's about people, not dates.