Elizabeth: The Golden Age 

Cate Blanchett returns to the role that made her a star, and though this sequel to Elizabeth (1998) is less defensible as history, as florid costume drama it's just as entertaining. Director Shekhar Kapur has described this as the second picture in a trilogy, so screenwriters Michael Hirst and William Nicholson were probably hard up for a romantic interest: Robert Dudley was the focus of the first movie, and the queen's other great love, the Earl of Essex, is presumably being saved for the last. The writers have settled on Sir Walter Raleigh (Clive Owen), whose flirtation with the regent is cut short when he impregnates her young lady-in-waiting Bess Throckmorton (Abbie Cornish). Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, as the Spanish discover when their armada approaches the shores of Britain. The digital battle sequences are less than convincing, but like the first movie, this one neatly fuses the personal and the political by focusing on the effect worldly power has on private affections. With Geoffrey Rush, Samantha Morton, and Rhys Ifans. PG-13, 115 min. a Arlington, Century 12 and CineArts 6, Cicero ShowPlace 14, Crown Village 18, Elk Grove, Gardens 1-6, Lake, Marcus Addison, Pickwick, Randhurst, ShowPlace 14 Galewood Crossings, Highland Park, South Barrington 30, Woodridge 18, York, Yorktown. --J.R. Jones

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