September 9, 2023

ELIZABETH (4K): An Upgraded Reminder

1998 / 124 min
Available at
Review by Stinky the Destroyer😺

For some reason, I often get Cate Blanchett and Gwyneth Paltrow mixed up. So revisiting movies like Elizabeth tends to remind me who's who. Paltrow is the weirdo hawking coffee enemas and crotch-scented candles, while Blanchett is the one with enough genuine talent to carry a movie entirely on her shoulders…

…which she does to a large extent in Elizabeth, earning an Oscar nomination in 1998 (though ironically, Paltrow actually took home the award). She deftly depicts the transformation of the film’s titular character from the illegitimate, idealistic daughter of Henry VII to the Queen of England nobody seems to want. 

Inheriting the throne while the country is most vulnerable to surrounding enemy countries, Elizabeth’s advisors urge her to marry a neighboring monarch and produce an heir. Elizabeth stubbornly resists, partially because she’s in love with earl Robert Dudley (Joseph Fiennes), but even he turns out to have an ulterior agenda.

Elizabeth creates another uncomfortable silence.
Others - including the Catholic church itself - conspire to get rid of her. Elizabeth’s only trusted ally seems to be Francis Walsingham (Geoffrey Rush), a once-exiled Protestant whose violently-efficient methods of protecting the queen eventually allow her to extend her influence. This culminates in a final act similar to those in the Godfather films, where Elizabeth attempts to solidify her throne by dispatching numerous enemies (even those close to her).

I don’t know how much of this is accurate (nor do I care), but it’s a pretty fascinating story, anchored by Blanchett’s powerful performance. If nothing else, Elizabeth reminded me to quit confusing her with Gwyneth Paltrow. But while key to its overall success, she’s not the only standout. Rush, in particular, is terrific, making Francis both cold-blooded and sympathetic. The film is also noteworthy for featuring Daniel Craig in a smaller early role as John Ballard, a priest appointed to assassinate the queen (and looking kind-of like a Sith Lord about to slaughter younglings).

This set comes with both a new 4K UHD transfer and a copy of the original Blu-ray released years ago. Visually, the 4K image is a big improvement, with a lot more sharpness and depth. However, there is no audio remix or upgrade. The Mater Audio 5.1 track is the same for both discs, which is fine because it still sounds quite good. And aside from a digital code, no new bonus features are included. 



FEATURETTES - The Making of Elizabeth; Elizabeth Featurette.

AUDIO COMMENTARY - By director Shekhar Kapur.

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