It's not often that there are sequels to period dramas, much less trilogies (as has been discussed with this). In order for it to have success, they must have a solid story to tell. Elizabeth: The Golden Age brings back the cast and director of "Elizabeth" which was nominated for seven Academy Awards in 1999. TIFF describes the film as:
ELIZABETH: THE GOLDEN AGE finds Queen Elizabeth I (Academy Award(TM)-winner Cate Blanchett) facing bloodlust for her throne and familial betrayal. Growing keenly aware of the changing religious and political tides of late 16th century Europe, Elizabeth finds her rule openly challenged by the Spanish King Philip II (Jordi Molla) - with his powerful army and sea-dominating armada -determined to restore England to Catholicism. Preparing to go to war to defend her empire, Elizabeth struggles to balance ancient royal duties with an unexpected vulnerability in her love for Raleigh. But he remains forbidden for a queen who has sworn body and soul to her country. Unable and unwilling to pursue her love, Elizabeth encourages her favorite lady-in-waiting, Bess (Abbie Cornish), to befriend Raleigh to keep him near. But this strategy forces Elizabeth to observe their growing intimacy. As she charts her course abroad, her trusted advisor, Sir Francis Walsingham (Academy Award(TM)-winner Geoffrey Rush), continues his masterful puppetry of Elizabeth's court at home - and her campaign to solidify absolute power. Through an intricate spy network, Walsingham uncovers an assassination plot that could topple the throne. But as he unmasks traitors that may include Elizabeth's own cousin Mary Stuart (Samantha Morton), he unknowingly sets England up for destruction.
"Elizabeth" was one of the first period films that got me into independent film. While the production values were in no way "independent", the subject matter was. But I was enthralled all the way through. It had a certain "Godfather" vibe to it, with Cate playing "Michael" and Geoffrey Rush as the consiglieri. This was also the film that established Cate Blanchett as an actress to watch for. Any film that has her in the cast, I will go see because I know that she will give a great performance. She also doesn't tend to star in bad "paycheck" movies.
The Golden Age is definitely a film that should have award season in mind. The trailer looks fantastic. The film will be a Gala screening.