Elizabeth: The Golden Age: Cate Blanchett Does Dallas

Nine years after proffering her origin story, director Shekhar Kapur revisits Queen Elizabeth I, once more played by Cate Blanchett beneath towering wigs and a deathly pale visage, some 30 years after her ascendancy to the throne. Only now, England is on the brink of war with Spain's King Philip II (Jordi Molla), who wants England reclaimed as a Catholic stronghold under the rule of Mary, Queen of Scots (Samantha Morton). As though any of that matters: The audience should have a very hard time taking too seriously a film in which Clive Owen, as Sir Walter Raleigh dressed in baggy pantaloons, dangles like a romance-novel cover boy from a ship's mast while the ocean laps him like a faithful hound. Halloween's come early, and the kids who can't get their hands on a Jack Sparrow costume might do well to see whether Target's carrying a Sir Walter Raleigh outfit this year. The original was no less a fanciful soap opera—Dynasty in Renaissance Fair drag, Dallas with a much fancier Southfork Ranch. But the sequel is considerably more garish and voluble. If Elizabeth was BBC stuff writ large, a history lesson made enchanting for soap fans, Elizabeth: The Golden Age is more like an Indian import—how is it these people don't break into song or skip into a dance routine every five minutes, honestly?

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