I great film! A must see!
Obvious liberties and inaccuracies aside, this is a pretty solid, clever, and quite entertaining historical drama. Period piece costume dramas (historical based or not) have never been my favorite, but I certainly appreciate them. This film can be seen as a great character study, and a fine example of waht it takes to be an effective female ruler. This is how you do it right. It's hardly ever pretty, and almost always risky, but hey, sometimes, you have to take chances and piss people off to succeed.
This was the star making performance for Cate Blanchett, and she gives a strong performance here. Her portrayal of Elizabeth's transformation from the wartm and sensitive romantic to te cold, calculating "virgin queen" is wonderful. Geoffrey Rush is incredible as the ruthless but effective Walsingham. As my professor said, "everyone needs a Walingham." I agree. Joseph Fiennes left a little to be desired, but he wasn't terrible. Eccleston is good, and Attenborough is alright too, but for me, I liked Daniel Craig in his brief but fun role, and Vincent Cassell is terrific (both in general and a campy way) in a brief scene stealing role. He really reminded me of Tom Hulce in "Amadeus".
The location shooting, sets, costues, and art direction are just gorgeous to look at, and make you appreciate the work that was put into them, Some of the high angle shots got a little overbearing and tedious, but still, I loved the places they got to film in.
Give this one a shot. It's entertaining and solid, even if it's not perfect. It kind of helps to have some prior knowledge though, but it's not completely required.
I'll admit that I enjoyed recent historical dramas like The Duchess and The Young Victoria. But sometimes, pardon my language, I want to see a historical drama with some balls. And I don't mean the kind with dancing and fancy dresses. Elizabeth fits that descriptor admirably.
The movie opens with a chilling scene precluding the execution of some Protestant rebels, which does an effective job of setting the tone for one of the central conflicts of that time and the move; the conflict between the supporters of the Catholic church and the Protestants (of which Elizabeth was a steadfast member, to the dismay of many).
Elizabeth covers the time period stretching from the early dangers she faced at the hands of her suspicious half-sister, Queen Mary I, to the political and personal successes and failures of the early part of her 44 year reign. We watch as she faces rebellion and betrayal, and gradually sheds her inexperience to become a forceful, capable, and independent ruler.
Cate Blanchett is a fantastic actress. That should be a surprise to no one. And she certainly looks the part. She makes for a fine Queen Elizabeth. As for the rest of the cast (sans one person, in particular), I found them all to be suitable. Blanchett is clearly the focus of the movie, though, and the film works because it rests so well on her queenly shoulders. As for the settings, costumes, etc., they're less opulent than those that I've seen in some more recent movies of this type, but they serve their purpose within the story well.
My only real problem with the movie (besides how comically evil some members of the Roman Catholic church were portrayed to be) was Robert Fiennes in the role of Lord Robert. His character seemed like he would be right at home in a bad romance novel, and I found myself rolling my eyes or losing interest nearly every time he was on screen. He was the wrong actor for the part, too much of the movie was unwisely (and unnecessarily) focused on him, and his interactions with Elizabeth were handled atrociously. Those were the only weak scenes in a very strong movie, but they did force me to drop my score. Other than that, though, I highly recommend Elizabeth.