Declaiming from atop her white horse, her legs now conspicuously parted as she straddles the jittery, stamping animal, she invokes God and country, blood and honor, life and death, bringing to mind at once Joan of Arc, Henry V, Winston Churchill and Tony Blair in one gaspingly unbelievable, cinematically climactic moment. The queenly body quakes as history and fantasy explode.This movie is getting a lot of bad reviews, possibly from people who don't get or don't appreciate what it's trying to do. Let's check in with Steven D. Greydanus of Decent Films Guide:
A lurid sort of Christopher Hitchens vision of history pervades Elizabeth: The Golden Age, Shekhar Kapur’s sequel to his 1998 art-house hit Elizabeth.Christopher Hitchens? He's everywhere. (Omnipresent.)
The earlier film, which made a star of Cate Blanchett as the eponymous Virgin Queen, celebrated the triumph of bright, happy Elizabethan Protestantism over the dark, unwholesome Catholic world of Bloody Mary. Even so, that film’s church-bashing was tame compared that of this sequel, in which everything bad, evil and corrupt in the world ultimately is ultimately the bitter fruit of Religion. And by Religion, I mean Catholicism....Wait. Isn't Spain al Qaeda?
In attacking England, Philip [II of Spain] is convinced that he’s on a mission from God: “England is enslaved to the devil,” he declares. “We must set her free.” Certain that God is on his side as he leads his nation into a holy war that becomes a debacle, Philip couldn’t be a blacker, nuttier Hollywood villain if his middle initial were W.
Other flirtations with topicality in this pre-election year include assassins and conspirators praying secretly in a foreign language while plotting their murderous attacks, and the Machiavellian Sir Francis Walsingham (returning Geoffrey Rush) torturing a captured conspirator during an interrogation. (Tom Hollander, who costarred with Rush in the Pirates of the Caribbean sequels, is running around somewhere in this picture, an odd juxtaposition in another film that ends with a sea battle with cannons.)Sex, religion, politics, pirates... Let's go to the movies!
The film does go on to concede that the Spanish have other grievances against the English besides religion, such as the Queen’s tolerant stance on English pirates like Walter Raleigh (Clive Owen) raiding Spanish ships.