Elizabeth: The Golden Age is a lavish historical thriller.
Almost a decade after they lit up the screen in the acclaimed Elizabeth, Cate Blanchett, Geoffrey Rush, and director Shekhar Kapur reunite for the follow-up Elizabeth: The Golden Age. Even more lavishly produced than its predecessor, Elizabeth: The Golden Age is, like the 1998 film, a thriller gussied up as a costume drama, but it makes the same mistake that so many sequels do: it mistakes bigger for better, overwhelming the viewer with so much music, spectacle and melodrama as to nearly squelch the human drama.
Elizabeth: The Golden Age opens in 1585 and finds the queen still being harangued by her staff, notably chief adviser and spymaster Sir Francis Walsingham (Rush), about finding a husband and producing an heir. She entertains a number of royal suitors, but is charmed the most by the dashing Sir Walter Raleigh (Clive Owen) — a pirate and explorer who has just recently returned from the New World. Raleigh tells the monarch and her court about how he established a colony there in honor of the Virgin Queen — Virginia — and shows off the gifts he has brought back for her, namely tobacco, potatoes and gold.
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