Feb 2008 18

The follow up to the Oscar nominated film, Elizabeth, allows Cate Blanchett to get back into the role that made her famous and the result is a mixed bag.
Spain is threatening the rule of England and their way of life as the King Phillip of Spain uses the command of God and spread of Catholicism as an excuse to try and seize power in the Western world. Having bit at odds for sometime we come in on the action just as the tipping point tips and the wheels are put into motion to dethrone Elizabeth from her seat.
Also spun into this web of political intrigue is a love triangle between Elizabeth, Sir Walter Raleigh (Clive Owen), and Beth (Abbie Cornish). This part of the story never really works all the way and bogs down the political side of things at times.
Blanchett does a good job for the most part as the virgin queen and plays the likeable yet strong leader very well. The first film was her rise to power and coming of age (queen) story that was fast paced and was an excellent historical biopic. Here her character is more confident and over powers the men around her in life.
One of these men is Sir Francis Walsingham (Geoffrey Rush) Elizabeth‘s chief advisor who is getting old and seems to be slipping with age. His plot intertwines with the conspirators giving Rush a lot of new things to do with an excellent character carried over from the first film.
Clive Owen is great for 95% of his time on screen. There is one section of the film right before the finale where the love triangle just gets ridiculous and bogged down causing all actors involved to become overly dramatic and just unbelievable, this is where Owen gets the 5% deduction. Other than that he is heroic, charming, and confident; easily selling us on why these women fall for him.

Deserving special mention is the atrocious performance by Samantha Morton. I mean, it is just horrible. She is overacting and acts so weird and bizarre with he speech and face its unwatchable at times; just really awful stuff.

What hurts this film even more then the love triangle is the director, Shekhar Kapur. He is trying so hard to be artful or unique or different that there were a number of times where I was just like, “what are you doing with your camera?” The movie tries to do too much and seems more interested in trying to give us an artistic frame then telling us a good story.
The movies first hour is very entertaining though and works very well, it’s when we get into the tail end of the story that things seemed rushed and unbelievable. The latter half of the film makes you wonder what happened as it pretty much spoils and overshadows a decent start. If you are a fan of the first film, Owen and Blanchett, or are an Oscar completes it is definitely worth checking out, just don’t get your hopes up for anything on par with the excellent first film.


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