>> Elizabeth: The Golden Age (Brandon’s Review, 6.5/10)

Elizabeth the Golden Age(Note: I never saw “Elizabeth” so I have no idea how different Blanchett’s portrayal is from the last)

This was a heck of a movie. I was deeply entertained by it but I find myself hard pressed to call it one of my favorite films of the year. It’s certainly a good looking movie and also not boring, which is in my experience the first time director Shekhar Kapur has not done that to me.

The film lives and dies by performances. Cate Blanchett tackling the role of Queen Elizabeth for the second time plays the character like she is old hat (which stands to reason if this is familiar territory) imbuing her with a playfulness and flirtatiousness, she comes across as a very reserved sexy at times as well. Even still there is more range to the performance, she would like to appear unflappable but she is capable of being scared and vulnerable and rocked to the core. Sometimes it even causes her to lash out at the people she values the most and they in turn find solace in one another. There is one occasion where Blanchett ventures into histrionics where Elizabeth is so overcome by her own neuroses that I began to wonder if I hadn’t somehow ventured into a sixteenth century romantic comedy, but there were other times when I wondered whether or not Forest Whitaker and Cate Blanchett took a page out of the same book when it comes to playing paranoid, angry, alienating members of the ruling class. I suppose that no matter how ugly that moment might have played on-screen a woman can only do so much when she has to entertain suitors, worry about assassins and place the needs of the people above her own, the pressure is bound to make her crack.

Jordi Molla as King Philip II is given a pretty wonderful moment where he declares war on the Godless, childless Elizabeth and her country, they give him one of those nice moments on the soundtrack that is the theme for a walk of determination but it starts and stops two separate times after about three seconds so that he can say something else. I doubt it was meant to be funny, but it was. I don’t know if the film was so deliberately going for a playful attitude, but it managed to supplant itself in there pretty firmly without damaging any sort of credibility. Rhys Ifans is also effectively chilling as Robert Reston, an Englishman sent by Spain to expedite the assassination of the Queen. Ifans is typically playing some sort of a goofball but here every time you see him you just know that somebody is going to die. He’s brutal and effective without saying much at all.

In keeping with that particular fact of Ifan’s performance, the allotted gore for the PG-13 rating is effectively shot and displayed. We don’t see the aftermath of a knife to the throat or a bullet to the head, but we are allowed to see some nifty cage thing put on a guy’s head and see that when the door is closed it punctures his cheeks, there’s also some missing limb action to be had. Based on “The Four Feathers” I had pegged Shekhar Kapur as a man who makes pretty, but boring pictures and now I find him to be a man after my own heart. His film not only makes good on the promise of the trailer but with every word I type about this movie I grow fonder of it and there aren’t many film or individuals who can lay claim to that.

6.5 on a 1 to 10 scale

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