Elizabeth: The Golden Age 

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They couldn't title it Elizabeth 2, because audiences would think it was about England's current monarch, rather than the fabled queen of Shakespeare's day. But Golden Age is still just a sequel. Its real drama was told in 1998's Elizabeth, in which the Virgin Queen (Cate Blanchett) combated religious hatred while surrendering her own happiness for the good of England. Golden Age merely reprises the theme, as Elizabeth fends off the Spanish and the treacherous Mary, Queen of Scots. This time her dashing love interest is Sir Walter Raleigh (Clive Owen), while the scheming Papists have spread to Spain, where Philip II builds his mighty armada. But little else changes: Once again Elizabeth paces the floor, torn between duty and doubt, as wily Walsingham (Geoffery Rush) ferrets out enemy plots. And once again, the film tinkers with history for dramatic effect. Director Shekhar Kapur's movie is gloriously filmed -- Philip's fleet is daunting, though disaster awaits it -- and the costumes are lush. The plot, however, is a bit threadbare.


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