Elizabeth: The Golden Age 

I don't think the sequel to 1998's Elizabeth is as good as the original, but most reviewers have said something similar. The only real problem for it, though, is that it's kind of slow and a little confusing, especially for non-history buffs. But historical films like this are great for people who enjoy the genre, whether one knows how the real story went or not.

A huge plus is that the original film's stars (Cate Blanchett and Geoffrey Rush), director (Shekhar Kapur) and writer (Michael Hirst) are all back, a key for any sequel to succeed. And like its predecessor, Elizabeth: The Golden Age surrounds its two Oscar-winning stars with a bevy of other talent, this time Clive Owen (Closer), Jordi Molla (Blow) and Rhys Ifans (Notting Hill).

Catholic Spain is nearing war with Protestant England, and the suddenly emotional queen has taken a shine to charismatic pirate Walter Raleigh. While trying to avoid plots to kill her by the Spanish and deposed Scottish Queen Mary Stuart, Elizabeth orders a hesitant Raleigh into her service.

Cate Blanchett really embodies the original Queen Elizabeth. No other actress could bring remotely what she does to the role. Backed by the grandeur of Kapur's direction and the same gorgeous costumes and makeup of the original, the sequel is definitely a feast for the eyes.

I say this a lot, but if you liked the first one, then the second one shouldn't really disappoint. It's just a little less concise and a little less novel. But it's (mostly) real history—and beautiful history at that.

These videos courtesy of Hollywood Video, 590 Broadway Ave., 208-342-6117.

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