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The Golden age
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The latest film to encapsulate the life of Elizabeth I is a tapestry of heavy brocades, crescendos, dark lighting and cold stares.

While the acting is superb, the lighting dark, the shadows long, the music powerfully intense and the costumes simply sumptuous - taken all together the effect of the film leaves the viewer feeling distanced and apart from the historical events and characters of "Elizabeth: The Golden Age."

Directed by (Shekhar Kapur), written by (Michael Hirst), produced by and acted by (Cate Blanchett and Geoffrey Rush) the same talented individuals who created 1998's masterpiece "Elizabeth I," the second installment in the life of Britain's most famous monarch is just as passionate as the first film.

Besides the different subject matter (one film depicted the rise to power of a young girl queen and the other the challenges and tribulations of a 50-year-old supreme ruler) the biggest difference between the two films is not their content but the audiences watching them.

When "Elizabeth I" came out, it was riding a crest of renewed interest in epic biopic movies (1997's "Titanic," 1998's "Shakespeare in Love"). Now though American audiences have been bombarded with larger-than life history and fantasy films ("Gladiator," "Troy," "The Passion of the Christ.") every single year and become rather spoiled by them.

 So where does that leave "Elizabeth I: The Golden Age" which 10 years ago would have been heralded for its vision and insight into the mind of one of the modern world's most renowned leaders?

 Not much of anywhere is the answer.

 Still viewers would be hard pressed to find better performances on the silver screen this week that those of Blanchett and Rush who reprise their earlier roles as Elizabeth I and Sir Francis Walsingham, the queen's master of spies.

In contrast to Helen Mirren's Golden Globe award- winning performance as an emotional and vulnerable Elizabeth I in HBO's 2005 miniseries, Blanchett's Elizabeth is much more aloof.

Samantha Morton's portrayal of Mary Queen of Scots is a screen stealer. Clive Owen's portrayal of Sir Walter Raleigh is satisfyingly intense as is that of Morton's jailor, Sir Amyas Paulet, played by Tom Hallander.



"Elizabeth: The Golden Age" is rated PG-13 for violence, some sexuality and nudity. It has a running time of 114 minutes.