Generally favorable reviews - based on 30 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 25 out of 30
  2. Negative: 1 out of 30
Watch On
  1. Reviewed by: Mike Clark
    A notably undynamic treatment of Protestant Elizabeth I's ascension to the British throne.
  2. 60
    Whether the story's bald ironies are historical cliches or just dramatic ones, they convey only platitudes about gender, sexuality, and power.
  3. 88
    The texture of the film is enough to recommend it, even apart from the story.
  4. A fascinating whirl of politics and palace intrigue.
  5. Acted and directed with great energy and imagination.
  6. 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.
  7. History rendered with enough brains and imagination to more than make up for its few stumbles.
  8. 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.
  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. The movie -- directed in such a frenziedly self-conscious style you often wonder whether the camera will topple over on his actors.
  11. Reviewed by: Sandra Contreras
    The conspicuous lack of emotional resonance makes this film "Queen Margot's" poor cold English cousin.
  12. Reviewed by: Ron Wells
    All of the nutty editing and the loud score just grated on my nerves and failed the story.
  13. This is a sensual, psychologically modern costume drama influenced by both "The Godfather" and gals' guides to empowerment.
  14. Reviewed by: David Rooney
    Superior historical soap opera that shrewdly sidesteps all the cliches of British costume drama with its bold, often modern approach.
  15. The fabulous Elizabeth reinvents English Tudor history as gangster movie.
  16. Where Elizabeth really triumphs over its dusty source material is in transforming all this boring history into a real, rip-roaring adventure tale.
  17. Reviewed by: Laura Miller
    A handsome, diverting coming-of-intrigue story studded with meaty performances.
  18. 80
    Bollywood meets The Godfather.
  19. 80
    Elizabeth's most triumphant aspect is Blanchett's transformation from saucy, spirited toe-tapper to iconic Virgin Queen.
  20. Reviewed by: Jack Matthews
    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.
  21. This Elizabeth is presented as a glamorously stressed-out modern woman who must cope with a super-intense case of having it all.
  22. Reviewed by: David Edelstein
    The movie's approach makes for juicy melodrama.
  23. Reviewed by: Richard Schickel
    This darkly sumptuous, hypnotically complex movie ought to have many constituencies.
  24. 70
    The film belongs to Blanchett -- this hellcat Virgin Queen is something to see.
  25. Reviewed by: Jeff Giles
    Kapur can't decide if he's making an art movie or a melodrama, an opera or a soap opera.
  26. 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.
  27. 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.
  28. 100
    This historical epic about the "virgin queen" of England's early life moves with the crackling urgency of a contemporary political thriller.
  29. Despite the florid trailers' emphasis on bodice-ripping romantic imagery, Elizabeth is above all a political thriller.
  30. 90
    What's best about the film is not the hot romance, but the coldness that lies at its heart.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 45 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 9 out of 12
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 12
  3. Negative: 3 out of 12
  1. Jan 2, 2015
    Elizabeth is a spine tingling slice of historical drama dressed up as the Godfather. Doomed love, political intrigue and savage murders areElizabeth is a spine tingling slice of historical drama dressed up as the Godfather. Doomed love, political intrigue and savage murders are the order of the day here. One wonders what Shakespeare would have made of Elizabeth's reign if he was actually divorced from it. Maybe it would have looked a little like this movie. Whatever, Elizabeth is badass entertainment! Full Review »
  2. EricC
    Apr 6, 2009
    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 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 »
  3. AuskaP.
    Feb 14, 2008
    I just love Cate. She is just a perfect Elizabeth!!