ELIZABETH: THE GOLDEN AGE (Shekar Kapur). 114 minutes. Opens Friday (October 12). Rating: NN
When a director starts marshalling wordless heavenly choirs in the third act, you know his picture's in trouble.
Elizabeth: The Golden Age , Shekar Kapur 's follow-up to Elizabeth, has an outstanding cast. Cate Blanchett returns as Elizabeth I, as does Geoffrey Rush as Sir Francis Walsingham, her spymaster, and they're joined by Clive Owen as Sir Walter Raleigh and Samantha Morton as Mary, Queen of Scots.
Given the script's glancing relationship to historical fact, it's a shame there's no Blanchett/Morton showdown. That I'd like to see, even if Elizabeth and Mary never met. There's a lot of shit in this movie that never happened.
Kapur's camera keeps things moving relentlessly, like a musical without numbers, while Elizabeth falls for Raleigh and frets about the impending arrival of the Spanish Armada. Act three dwells on digital ships on a digital sea and on Blanchett as Elizabeth as Boadicea, with the aforementioned heavenly choirs in the background.
The hyperactive camera reinforces the twitchiness of the ADD-afflicted script, no help to a film that's both underwritten and over-directed.
At a festival Q&A, Kapur said that if the first film was about power, this one is about divinity. Maybe he should make a movie about Divine. With Cate Blanchett. If she can play Bob Dylan, she can do anything.