While the poetic licence taken with both the plot and visual style in Elizabeth: The Golden Age can at times, be over-the-top, its virtues far outweigh its sins. If you can manage to ignore this films glaring historical inaccuracies you are in for few enjoyable hours of lush costumes, courtly intrigue and rogue adventurers.
The story picks up several years after the conclusion of 1998s Elizabeth: The Virgin Queen. Queen Elizabeth (Cate Blanchett) has since established herself as a powerful player in European politics and stands alone against the Papacy in Rome. In Scotland, Mary Stuart (Samantha Morton), aka Mary Queen of Scots, is imprisoned and plotting the downfall of her Protestant cousin so that she may ascend to the throne of England. Meanwhile, Phillip II of Spain (Lordi Molla), the most powerful country in Europe, prepares to take England by force with the building of a massive armada. Elizabeth, along with friend and guardian Sir Walter Raleigh (Clive Owen), must protect England from her enemies, both foreign and domestic.
Elizabeth: The Golden Age is a solid piece of historical entertainment, adapting actual events into an exciting and passionate narrative. Students of history will no doubt find the dramatic licence taken by writers William Nicholson and Michael Hirst frustrating but this film makes no attempt to hide its theatrical intentions and should be rewarded a Royal Pardon for its ability to entertain. Cate Blanchett reprises her role as Queen Elizabeth nine years after the first films release, playing an older, wiser, more jaded Queen who now emanates regal authority. Clive Owen takes on the role of adventurer Sir Walter Raleigh with a roguish charm worthy of Errol Flynn.
Balancing romance, action, history and drama, Elizabeth: The Golden Age has something that will appeal to all tastes. If youre looking for entertainment, this film will fulfil your needs but, if youre looking for historical fidelity, Id suggest building yourself a time machine. (Universal)