action DVD and movie reviews and previews from - curled up with a good dvd
action DVD and movie reviews and previews from - curled up with a good dvd
DVD reviews, previews and info - dramas and thrillers
  action movies on DVD
  animation on DVD
  art house and international / foreign language films on DVD
  comedies on DVD
  documentaries on DVD
  dramas on DVD
  children's and family DVDs
  horror and sci-fi on DVD
  suspense on DVD
  television series on DVD
  Blu-ray DVD reviews


Elizabeth - The Golden Age [Combo HD DVD and Standard DVD] - drama/thriller DVD review
ELIZABETH - THE GOLDEN AGE rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association of America rating: 4 stars
Actors: Cate Blanchett, Clive Owen, Geoffrey Rush, Abbie Cornish, Jordi Molla
Director: Shekhar Kapur   Studio: Miramax
DVD release: 05 February 2008   Runtime: 114 minutes (1 disc)
Format: AC-3, Color, Dolby, Dubbed, Subtitled, Widescreen
DVD Features: Subtitles (English, Spanish, French), Audio Tracks (English, Dolby Digital 5.1; French, Dolby Digital 5.1; Spanish, Dolby Digital 5.1), Deleted Scenes, "The Reign Continues: Making Elizabeth: The Golden Age," "Inside Elizabeth's World," "Commanding the Winds: Creating the Armada," "Towers, Courts and Cathedrals," Audio Commentary with director Shekhar Kapur

Shekhar Kapur takes on no small feat in bringing his second biographical portrayal of one of history's most intriguing and explored figures to the screen. His first foray into the life of England's mid-16th century monarch, Elizabeth, was something of a smaller risk as it dealt with her less-chronicled early years up to her ascension to the British throne. Elizabeth: The Golden Age covers far more well-traveled ground. Nearly thirty years into her reign, she approaches her legendary victorious confrontation with the Catholic Church-supported Spanish Armada, ordered against England and its Protestant queen by her fanatical brother-in-law, King Philip II of Spain (Jordi Molla).

Oscar-nominated actress Cate Blanchett is nine years older than she was in the first film, which goes some way toward making this film's Elizabeth look a little closer to her real age at the time (she ruefully notes "the wrinkles" that have begun to line her face in one scene). But both Blanchett and her queen have aged gracefully; Elizabeth of the Golden Age is a mature ruler and woman in full flower, albeit one who will never be married to any but her people. She wields her "Virgin Queen" title as a powerful defensive weapon - England's place is hardly that of a superpower, yet she has kept the continental European empire-builders at bay by accepting royal suitors while committing to none.

Then she meets Walter Raleigh (Clive Owen), an explorer returned from a new land with natural treasures (potatoes, tobacco, a pair of face-painted and costumed natives) and looking for her sponsorship for further voyages. He thrills her as she has not been in some time with his colorful tales of adventure and his bold personal charm - much to the chagrin of her trusted spymaster and advisor, Sir Francis Walsingham (Geoffrey Rush, brilliant as ever). Elizabeth charges her devoted favorite lady-in-waiting, Elizabeth "Bess" Throckmorton (Abbie Cornish), to act as her go-between with Raleigh. Reluctant Bess, herself attracted to Raleigh, keeps secret her family ties to the British Catholic cause rallied behind the imprisoned Mary, Queen of Scots. She is torn for both reasons, given her close relationship with the queen. Elizabeth's private - and sometimes not so private - gravitational fascination with Raleigh places her self-definition as monarch in an untenable tug-of-war, pulling at her with the desperate indecision that only love in the face of greater responsibility can exert.

Fate, it seems, will have its way, though what direction it is to take remains stubbornly uncertain until each step along its path is taken. Bess and Raleigh, thrown together by Elizabeth in her anger and insecurity, become lovers. As the storm clouds carrying assassins and the Armada closer to England gather, and as the necessity of executing Mary for plots against the throne undercut her own divine sense of self, Bess's pregnancy and the needs of the kingdom make Elizabeth's decision for her.

Setting Raleigh loose against the Armada with Britain's cobbled-together navy and herself rousing soldiers, many of whom have just laid down their plowshares and taken up swords for the coming fight, Elizabeth dons the inspiring mantle of warrior-queen. She is an angel in armor by whom it is impossible not to be inspired, a mythic goddess incarnate; I would certainly follow Blanchett's Elizabeth into the maelstrom. The film's fiery, thundering climax may leave special effects afficionados underwhelmed, but the imagery of a magnificent white stallion leaping from a Spanish ship into the storm and battle-tossed waters and swimming away from the conflagration toward shore (in a muted underwater shot that takes on the shape and unspoken meaning of a vision) more than makes up for any obviously not-filmed-outside shots of Raleigh hanging from the rigging.

Historians may argue that Elizabeth's part in Great Britain's re-ascendancy as a world power was blessed as much (or more) by luck than political astuteness, that she was less clever than indecisive. Nonetheless, this a re-imagining of her life that is faithful to the popular view of Elizabeth as the pinnacle of the reign of the Tudor line. Kapur's grand vision (don't miss "The Reign Continues" bonus featurette for insight), splendid in its costuming and architecture, and Blanchett's second turn as history's most well-known and beloved monarch stir the heart to believe once more in the possibility of human aspiration, failings, greatness and all.
  buy this DVD now or browse millions of other great products at
reviewed by Sharon Schulz-Elsing
    action | animation | art house/international | comedy | documentary | drama | family | horror/sci-fi | suspense | television    
    browse DVDs alphabetical by title    
    contact | home