The new Elizabeth: The Golden Age does a good job of continuing where the previous movie left off. England's at war with Spain, and the new world has been discovered and Walter Raleigh, a common pirate, has come to court to gain Elizabeth's favor. The sets and costumes are wonderful, but the overall pacing and set-up of the movie make it less consuming than the first one. Clive Owen as Sir Walter Raleigh is terrific, and whenever he's on the screen, you can't help being stunned - whether seducing one of the Ladies in waiting, or counseling Elizabeth herself. Cate Blanchett doesn't exhibit as much of the strength and power that came through so well in the first one, and in The Aviator. She alternates between nearly in tears and upset about random things and giving wonderful speeches that inspired her people. I don't think it's her acting that doesn't work, but the editing and direction. Scenes that might have made it more clear where her emotional stuggle was coming from (the impending war with Spain, inability to marry) were obviously cut, so she seems weepy for most of the movie. It's a great story overall, and the war with the Spanish Armada is pretty amazing. Overall, if the first movie was a 5, this is about 3.5.
Addendum: I remembered another example of why the directing was bad. There's a great scene where Elizabeth is inspiring her troops - saying how they'll defeat the Spanish Armada. She looks good - long hair, armored suit, and sitting on a horse. However, in the 90 second speech, the horse wouldn't stand still EVER. She circled and circled and circled, not pacing in front of her troops (the scene in Braveheart was brought to mind). All the director should have done was hold that stupid horse still and let Cate Blanchett speak her heart out to rally the troops - she could barely speak and the best scene was destroyed. Argh....
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