Metascore
75

Generally favorable reviews - based on 30 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 25 out of 30
  2. Negative: 1 out of 30
  1. 88
    The texture of the film is enough to recommend it, even apart from the story.
  2. 75
    It's a rousing adventure that keeps the audience involved for the entirety of the two hour running time while opening a window into the culture that gave birth to Christopher Marlowe, Edmund Spenser, Francis Bacon, and William Shakespeare.
  3. 70
    The film belongs to Blanchett -- this hellcat Virgin Queen is something to see.
  4. Elizabeth works in a number of ways. It's a feminist film. It's also a kind of spy thriller and a superior historical drama.
  5. Acted and directed with great energy and imagination.
  6. This is a sensual, psychologically modern costume drama influenced by both "The Godfather" and gals' guides to empowerment.
  7. Reviewed by: David Edelstein
    80
    The movie's approach makes for juicy melodrama.
  8. The movie -- directed in such a frenziedly self-conscious style you often wonder whether the camera will topple over on his actors.
  9. Bad history it may be, but Elizabeth is a movie that makes you want more, as it plays to the myth of history's great actress-monarch, a character who puts today's tinselly political heros and heroines (royal and not), to shame.
  10. Where Elizabeth really triumphs over its dusty source material is in transforming all this boring history into a real, rip-roaring adventure tale.
  11. A fascinating whirl of politics and palace intrigue.
  12. 60
    But much of it, like its subject, is so cryptic, distractingly stylish, and impenetrably posed that it's rough going most of the way.
  13. 80
    Elizabeth's most triumphant aspect is Blanchett's transformation from saucy, spirited toe-tapper to iconic Virgin Queen.
  14. Reviewed by: Mike Clark
    50
    A notably undynamic treatment of Protestant Elizabeth I's ascension to the British throne.
  15. 80
    Bollywood meets The Godfather.
  16. The fabulous Elizabeth reinvents English Tudor history as gangster movie.
  17. 60
    Whether the story's bald ironies are historical cliches or just dramatic ones, they convey only platitudes about gender, sexuality, and power.
  18. Reviewed by: Richard Schickel
    80
    This darkly sumptuous, hypnotically complex movie ought to have many constituencies.
  19. History rendered with enough brains and imagination to more than make up for its few stumbles.
  20. This Elizabeth is presented as a glamorously stressed-out modern woman who must cope with a super-intense case of having it all.
  21. 100
    This historical epic about the "virgin queen" of England's early life moves with the crackling urgency of a contemporary political thriller.
  22. Although frustratingly confusing -- often the viewer can't be sure who is on which side or why -- the film brims with physical grandeur, exquisite costumes, and a captivating performance by Blanchett.
  23. Despite the florid trailers' emphasis on bodice-ripping romantic imagery, Elizabeth is above all a political thriller.
  24. 90
    What's best about the film is not the hot romance, but the coldness that lies at its heart.
  25. Reviewed by: Sandra Contreras
    60
    The conspicuous lack of emotional resonance makes this film "Queen Margot's" poor cold English cousin.
  26. Reviewed by: Ron Wells
    30
    All of the nutty editing and the loud score just grated on my nerves and failed the story.
  27. Reviewed by: David Rooney
    90
    Superior historical soap opera that shrewdly sidesteps all the cliches of British costume drama with its bold, often modern approach.
  28. Reviewed by: Laura Miller
    80
    A handsome, diverting coming-of-intrigue story studded with meaty performances.
  29. Reviewed by: Jack Matthews
    80
    Period movies inevitably reflect more about the period in which they're made than the period of their subject, and rarely has that been more evident -- or more distracting -- than it is with Elizabeth.
  30. Reviewed by: Jeff Giles
    70
    Kapur can't decide if he's making an art movie or a melodrama, an opera or a soap opera.
User Score
7.7

Generally favorable reviews- based on 41 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 8 out of 11
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 11
  3. Negative: 3 out of 11
  1. EricC
    Apr 6, 2009
    3
    Saw this for the first time a few days ago, and I'm astonished by how bad a film it is. How do you take such an interesting and entertaining slice of history and turn it in to such a bland, unengaging movie? Too often, the movie is overdramatic when it needs to be subtle. The actors bounce around from overacting to just phoning in their perfomances (which is wildly disapointing considering the incredible cast). The director is clueless how to shoot the movie, clearly believing all that is needed to establish mood and atmosphere is turning down the lights. The script is completely generic and empty period babble (those that compare this to the Godfather; have you ever even seen the Godfather?). And the edidting, my god. The scenes are just lazily slapped together, giving the film an awful and confounding flow that I can only compare to a daytime soap opera. Obviously, fans of period epics will gobble this up (and the Academy loves them some period epics). For everyone else, this is just a massive mess of a movie. I can't even imagine what the universally panned sequel was like. Full Review »
  2. AuskaP.
    Feb 14, 2008
    10
    I just love Cate. She is just a perfect Elizabeth!!
  3. KenB
    Oct 11, 2007
    10
    This is a great period piece, period.