Elizabeth - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Elizabeth Reviews

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December 1, 2017
~Elizabeth (1998) 10

I wonder if the feminists have discovered this movie and if so, what they think of it. How could they not discover it since it has won a number of awards, including seven Academy Award nominations? Yet, I wonder, because the movie is deeper than might be thought on first blush, and it reverberates, but not with any simplistic sexist answers to the human struggle, but with uncomfortable questions, disturbing allegations.

Allegation number one: a woman can rule and be the equal of a man, but she must suppress her feminine instincts. Uncomfortable question number one: are women as vicious and murderous as our "demonic males"?

What makes Elizabeth such a wonderful movie is the uncompromising portrait it presents of a woman in a life or death struggle while in a position of power. Notice that she does NOT become a man, nor take on bogus or pseudo masculine traits to achieve her ends. She remains a woman to the core, yet acts with the kind of aggressive, decisive, brutal intelligence usually assigned to men.

Next question: Is this good to know?

A great work of art can be content to ask the great questions, not presume to answer them.

Cate Blanchett is superb in the title role and wonderfully supported by Geoffrey Rush and Joseph Fiennes. Shekhar Kapur's direction is without a hint of cant or even the slightest pandering to a mass audience, and is psychologically true and without any presumption to moral or spiritual wisdom. There is no preaching or taking sides. The script is a work of scholarship fused with the most compelling dramatic development, climax and resolution. The editing is almost invisible yet we can see that exactly enough was cut away while the essence was preserved; viz., it is remarkable how we are led to experience the political growth of the young queen and see her take on the attributes of her father, as necessary, and then see her seek refuge in the church and a kind of piety as "the Virgin Queen" in such a short period of elapsed screen time. THAT is film making of the highest quality.

Not enough can be said about the subtle, charming, expansive, vivid and veracious performance of Blanchett, yet Joseph Fiennes is to be commended for achieving success in a difficult and unsympathetic role. Geoffrey Rush's restraint and control in a part that could have easily been overplayed was highly admirable and contributed strongly to the success of the film.

This is not to say that the film is without flaws. The scene where Elizabeth discovers the French duke's homosexuality is unlikely as staged, and her risque behavior with Leicester not in character. Better, I think, would have been to keep him frustrated and allow him only to play at love; however, today's audiences seem to demand coitus always. Leicester's dalliance with one of her ladies was extremely stupid, but in character. The co-incidence of her wearing the acid dress as she betrayed her queen was a delicious if implausible irony. Further it was not made clear how the queen's commands through Walsingham are made viable so that they must be carried out; indeed the under struggle among the ministers was glossed over, although her dismissal of the no longer effective Sir William Cecil was aptly done.

Of course, I can presume to answer my queries. I think allegation number one, that a woman as a ruler must abandon her normal sexual drive is true, but the argument is too long for this space. Are women as vicious as men? They don't take the foolish chances that men take, since they can be reproductively rewarded only by staying alive and securing a stable future, whereas men can reproduce prodigiously for a while and then die successfully. But when necessary, women can be as brutal as Genghis Khan, as Elizabeth demonstrates.

Is it good to know that women are also vicious animals, when all the time we would prefer to think of them as fairy tale princesses? Well, something's lost and something's gained in growing up; but, yes, it's important to always keep that in mind when out there in the big world. I might add that it is sobering to realize that women as reproductive animals was not even addressed in this film. Therein lies another dimension of femininity that needs exploration...

--Dennis Littrell, author of the movie review book, "Cut to the Chaise Lounge, or I Can't Believe I Swallowed the Remote"
November 20, 2017
A film of the early years of the reign of Elizabeth I of England, brilliantly portrayed by the amazing Cate Blanchett and her difficult task of learning what is necessary to be a monarch. Its many nominations in the Academy Awards, Baftas and Golden Globes are very justified, since the makeup is excellent, as well as the period costumes. The Virgin Queen proves to be one of the most extraordinary women in British history.
½ October 12, 2017
a truly memorable performance by upcoming star Cate Blanchett as Queen Elizabeth I
she ruled for over 40 years and came to be the Virgin Queen of England
so much corruption existed inside the monarchy and she had enemies from all over Scotland as well as Spain and France
being born without her father and her own mother being scorned she was dawned the crown taking it upon herself to honor it
Lord Ford also took a romantic interest in her but little did she know that he kept something from her
Walsingham was her most trusted right hand going around and taking out every conspirator against her
being queen isn't as easy as it seems since Elizabeth had a lot to bear on her shoulders
so many politics involved from religion to war to making the followers of the crown stable
but Cate Blanchett completely sells it as the title character full of grace, wisdom, vulnerability and strength from within
an amazingly-acted early period flick
½ June 23, 2017
Difficult to follow, and not always convincing, but works well by successfully maintaining a constant tension and sense of and danger.
June 22, 2017
An excellent cast, amazing costumes, and a well aligned cinematography make for a great film.
Super Reviewer
½ May 14, 2017
It's the kind of empty headed historical pageantry that drives me crazy. I know that making Elizabeth I "good" and all who oppose her "evil" makes all of the intrigue easier to follow but it also robs the real history of its fascinating complexities.
April 27, 2017
good film about one of first bad ass bitches lol
February 23, 2017
"Elizabeth" explores the rise to power of Queen Elizabeth I. The history is a bit creative at times but it does an amazing job of bringing the character and demeanor of this monarch to life. They certainly don't shy away from blood and violence, which helps to keep the film from becoming a boring textbook biopic as it somehow manages to blend political drama with a historic epic. Cate Blanchett is perfect in this role (as indicated by her Oscar nomination) and likely could have won in a year that didn't feature another period film ("Shakespeare in Love") that cleaned up because the critics preferred it. I'm still trying to figure out how Joseph Fiennes managed to get cast as the romantic male lead in both English Renaissance era films of 1998. What are the chances? The cast is rounded out by Geoffrey Rush and Richard Attenborough, but it really is all about Blanchett and the growing assertiveness of her character. The dramatic choral score gives the entire film a dark, disturbing tone. Some of its best moments are when it incorporates famous pieces of classical music into its key moments. I loved the intense contrast created between the beauty of Elgar's "Nimrod" and a series of assassinations, as well as Mozart's "Requiem" being played as she takes control of the throne. The film is notable for its visual aspects including Oscar nominations for Art Direction, Costume Design, Cinematography, and a win for Makeup. But once again, it lost out to the other period film that the critics deemed to be better. "Elizabeth" is often overlooked because of the other Renaissance film of 1998 but it is absolutely worth your time for an interesting look at the 17th century English monarchy and Queen Elizabeth I's rise to power.
December 14, 2016
This was a great movie. She was, in my opinion, England's greatest monarch and this movie showed why she was.
December 14, 2016
Elizabeth is directed by Shekhar Kapur, and it stars Cate Blanchett, Geoffrey Rush, Christopher Eccleston, and Joseph Fiennes in a biographical film about the years that Elizabeth of England is queen which got lots of Catholics angry at her because she's a Protestant, not Catholic. I watched this as much as I can from high school since it took like a week to actually finish Elizabeth, luckily I managed to know enough information about it and loved it. Care Blanchett gives a wonderful performance that seeing her transform herself from beginning to end, is quite something special to see from her. The acting from Geoffrey Rush is quite mysterious that makes you want to know more about the character, and the others are really good that doesn't quite make it just about Cate Blanchett's acting being great. The costume designs look fantastic that gives in to the past historical time. The characters are memorable, especially the main character who, like I said, went through a transition that is very convincing for what she had to go through. I honestly had no idea where it was going, and it was suspenseful enough for me to be interested and worry at the same time. I didn't expect Elizabeth to be an investing movie, but it is, and I learned a lot out of this and just felt sorry for her in the end.
Super Reviewer
December 1, 2016
A handsome period drama that looks stunning but feels more like reading a History book, with a plain screenplay that doesn't offer many surprises and a cold, didactic direction by Shekhar Kapur that doesn't leave us engaged in the way that it actually should.
November 13, 2016
The script is twisting the historical facts. The characters don't match up with the reality. Additionally, while I was watching, the atmosphere didn't pull me to those days. I recommend everybody to read the history well before watching such nonsense..
October 6, 2016
"Elizabeth" is a surprisingly good historical drama that benefits primarily from its central performance and fascinating look into 16th century politics.
September 28, 2016
The movie felt raw. And to think there was so much violence at that time. Rober Dudley was almost obnoxious. The scenes were very graphic, with the beheadings and burnings. Cate Blanchett was mesmerizing
September 19, 2016
Elizabeth felt like it should have been a slam dunk for me to enjoy. I watched it only a day after watching Anne of the Thousand Days which I liked, so the context was set up and I was hungry to see the next chapter of the story. However, this film was a big disappointment. The acting felt totally unnatural, as though everyone was on a stage trying to project a character instead of becoming them, with a few notable exceptions. However, the bigger misstep was really the script. This movie did not hold together story-wise. It jumped all over the place, didn't pay off well on the setups, and left me constantly wanting something better. There were scenes where Cate Blanchett would seem to be transforming into this wise and powerful queen, but then the story would undermine her and she would once again end up looking around at everyone with confusion or frustration. Geoffrey Rush had a lot of promise as an assassin, but he never really gets to have a big moment of cunning or betrayal (in essence he becomes a strange adviser to Elizabeth.) Richard Attenborough and Daniel Craig felt wasted, Christopher Eccleston talked big but didn't deliver on anything, and I don't particularly like Joseph Fiennes in the first place. They just needed to refine the story and make it flow more sensibly. They spent too much time focused on the romance. Sadly, this meant the really fascinating stuff about political intrigue, conspired murders, and planned marriages took a back seat. I would not recommend Elizabeth, because it looks grand but can't deliver a grand story.
½ July 13, 2016
From its lavished settings to its powerful performances and themes, everything about this biopic is astounding.
July 12, 2016
Cate Blanchett deserved to win the Best Actress Award for her amazing performance of Queen Elizabeth I. The film itself is lush and dramatic with a great cast and a fine eye for historic detail.
April 25, 2016
"Elizabeth" is a suspenseful, informative, and thoroughly entertaining biopic featuring strong performances and direction, even if it's not always technically proficient.
April 22, 2016
Anyone who is looking for an historically accurate representation of the early years of Elizabeth 1's reign had best pass this one by. As far as this type of drama is concerned it has some superficial charm in respect to location, costumes and casting but the hideous distortions of fact are so blatant and so pervasive that the film becomes almost satirical. William Cecil cast as an ancient white-bearded dotard for example - Cecil was actually a mere 38 years old during the period portrayed. Why Hollywood feels obliged to revise history so often (shades of 'Braveheart' and 'The Patriot') is a mystery. Usually the real history is far more dramatic than anything the Hollywood hacks can dream up. Probably the only character who was reasonably treated in this particular film was Geoffrey Rush's Walsingham.
April 11, 2016
Elizabeth is an inherently flawed movie due to a lack of focus in its narrative and way too many subplots, but it also benefits from some strong character development of the main character with Cate Blanchett being superb in the role. It is also fine to look at, it has such a good ending and it is a great look at the queen with the emphasis on her personal life being excellent. It is problematic at times, but mostly an engaging and satisfying period flick.
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