Based upon the life of Elizabeth I, The Golden Age is the kind of film that causes the words “sumptuous” and “lavish” to be bandied around, but it seemed to me to be very TV standard.
It is littered with historical inaccuracies and the superficial script plays out like a greatest hits of the events of her life, spending little time on the inter-relationship of characters, their motivations or the context in which they acted. Elizabeth is shown as a strong, perceptive and wily monarch while Clive Owen’s Raleigh is little more than a Mills & Boon style swashbuckler who single-handedly defeated the Spanish Armada – quite how he got promoted from potato discoverer to one man seventh fleet I don’t know. The direction concentrates far too much on pre-Raphaelite imagery and demotes the dialogue to brief exchanges of clipped sound bites and for a historical epic, it all seems very unconvincing.
Taken as a romanticized adventure, the attractive visuals and appealing cast make it watchable enough, but peek beneath its petticoats and it’s little more than a medieval soap opera.