This was not a good idea. The courtly bravado of 1998's Elizabeth had a purpose: to show Cate Blanchett tearing up the scenery as England's "Virgin Queen" as she dallied about with the Earl of Leicester and spouted feministic jingo. It was sumptuous, kinda sexy, and complex. But its sequel, Elizabeth: The Golden Age, has no purpose, other than to give one a case of cinematic blue balls.
Since the first film, Elizabeth (Blanchett) has grown into her role of Queen of England in the 15th century—she's got a few laugh lines and she looks like one of the crazy bald ladies from Dune, 'cept she's got a wacky red-headed wig. Enter a bunch of would-be assassins, the simpering King Philip (Jordi Mollà) and his Spanish Armada, and the dreamy Sir Walter Raleigh (Clive Owen, meowrrrr), and things get a bit confusing for our majesty. God does she want to get in Sir Raleigh's billowy britches, but she's gotta keep up the illusion that the royal hymen is intact, so she encourages her lady-in-waiting, also named Elizabeth (natch), to flirt with him in her stead. Man, is the queen frustrated.
The rest of director Shekhar Kapur's Elizabethan stinker is hardly worth mentioning. As England prepares for battle with the inept (and decidedly low-budget) Spanish Armada, Elizabeth gets dolled up in head-to-toe lace and armor to give the troops a pep talk. And as the Spanish Armada is defeated, a white horse from a Spanish ship whinnies and jumps overboard; in slo-mo glory, it crashes into English waters to swim to freedom. Aaaah, that's some subtle symbolism. In other words, Elizabeth: The Golden Age is the equivalent of treating yourself to a nap in a rusty iron maiden.