Elizabeth: The Golden Age was a beautiful movie (great costumes and cinematography) with fantastic acting (Cate Blanchett, Clive Owen, Geoffrey Rush), but sufferered from a poor script.
The story line was set during an exciting time of Elizabeth's reign, the Mary Queen of Scots fiasco, the Spanish Armada - it should have been great! Instead the movie seemed rather forced to me. I didn't like the anti-Catholic sentiments. Religion was a very important part of the politics of the day, but both Protestant and Catholics alike were causing trouble. Phillip II of Spain was Catholic, but was also a power hungry individual, being Catholic was not his full reason for sending the Armada to England.
In this movie, Elizabeth is getting older and still being shown heads of states around the world to marry. She is interested in none, but is interested in Walter Raleigh, a manly man, who has just returned from America. She of course can not marry him. He falls in love with one of her ladies-in-waiting, and meets Elizabeth's angry when they secretly marry. The "evil" Catholics are plotting Elizabeth's downfall and using her cousin Mary Queen of Scots (a Catholic) as part of their plot. (What was up with all of the died red clothes whenever they showed the plotters. I was confused). The plot is discovered after a failed assasination attempt and Mary is executed, much to Elizabeth's dismay. The Armada comes to attack England, but the English are victorious. The movie ends with Elizabeth holding Raleigh's baby with the epilogue that she may never have a child of her own, but she is the mother of all of England.
The plot sounds good, but I thought the execution of it in the movie didn't flow so well. First of all, I really like Samantha Morton, but she was miscast as Mary Queen of Scots. Mary should have been a beautiful, fiery woman with red hair of her own and a match for Elizabeth. She was not. As I noted above, the second problem with the movie was using the "evil" catholics as a plot device instead of giving the entire picture. Thirdly I think they tried to do too much. Focusing on just Mary or the Armada would have allowed for a fuller plot development.
Overall it was an okay movie, but I liked Elizabeth (the first movie) much better.