Your enjoyment level of Elizabeth: The Golden Age will probably come down to how many movies you see a year. If you're under 20 I'd say you'll be pleased with your choice. Over 20 and I'm concerned. If you see a movie a week, or 52 per year, you'll cringe through a solid 30 percent of this one. The reason? It's been done before, and in a bigger and better way.
The main flaw with this film is the insistence on the soap opera style ending to each scene. The music swells, we're treated to dark and brooding faces, the conflict hangs in the air. But it's only like eight minutes into the movie! It's a bit like going out on that first date and he's already thinking, "At what point in the night do I give her the engagement ring?" Forced would be the word I'm looking for I guess. Which makes it hard to get too amped up when the actual conclusion of the movie comes.
There are things that work here too though. The costumes for one are beautiful. I don't know how accurate they are, but I assume costume designer Alexandra Byrne nailed every detail. The camera work is also quite effective, as large sweeping shots do their best to set the mood when called upon. I'd also be remiss if I didn't mention Abbie Cornish as Elizabeth Throckmorton - the lady in waiting to Cate's Queen Elizabeth. Abbie is great, subtle and sexy, and I can see now why Ryan Phillippe was interested in her. Sorry, that line was a shout-out to my pal The Evil Beet who complained no critic would mention it. Dare to dream, EB, dare to dream.
I'm a fan of the historical epic, just in general. They feel more important than your average drama. So it was with the expectation of something great that I went into Elizabeth: The Golden Age. The movie didn't fully deliver, and so I won't tell all my truly geeky movie buddies that this is a must-see. It would probably be an excellent rental candidate for a rainy Tuesday night. But if it's been a few weeks since you've seen a movie and you don't feel like something modern... well, okay, you could do worse than this film.