I went, I saw, and here I am, writing.
I have to admit, I was a bit disappointed in the direction and editing. First, it's SLOW. OMG, slow slow slow. It's slower than me trying to climb a hill on my bike!
I felt sorry for Jordi Molla, the actor who plays Phillip II of Spain. He's wearing these incredibly tight and uncomfortable looking boot things, and forced (?) to mince along rather than walk. As someone who does early modern English lit, I'm pretty used to seeing Phillip put down in writing here and there, but I must have missed references to his mincing. To my mind, Phillip's mincing is a synechdoche of the film's broad and heavy handed anti-Catholic attitude; it's as if the writers, directors, and producers all read a bunch of Tudor propaganda and believed every word. (I also felt sorry for the actor playing the Infanta.)
The anti-Catholicism reminded me of the way Elizabeth I, the 1998 film about Elizabeth's earlier years, treated Mary Tudor, making her look as nasty and ugly as possible in all sorts of ways.
And as with that film, I often felt a bit at sea (/grin) about who was who and what role s/he played. I never did remember who the Jesuit was, and I couldn't figure out if William Cecil was in the film at all (there's no listing in the cast), but dang, how can you have a film of Elizabeth's 1580s without Cecil?
My biggest disappointment with the film was with the minimalist approach to the Tilbury; seriously, you've got one of the all time great speeches (whether it was given as claimed or not), and they absolutely minimize it! Where's the great line about having the heart and stomach of a king? How could they cut that? It's not like they didn't have lots of time; they could have taken out ten minutes of flowing clothing shots, of birds' eye view shots, and still had an overabundance!
And just so you have the pleasure, here's the speech before the troops at Tilbury:
We have been persuaded by some that are careful of our safety, to take heed how we commit our selves to armed multitudes, for fear of treachery; but I assure you I do not desire to live to distrust my faithful and loving people. Let tyrants fear, I have always so behaved myself that, under God, I have placed my chiefest strength and safeguard in the loyal hearts and good-will of my subjects; and therefore I am come amongst you, as you see, at this time, not for my recreation and disport, but being resolved, in the midst and heat of the battle, to live and die amongst you all; to lay down for my God, and for my kingdom, and my people, my honour and my blood, even in the dust. I know I have the body but of a weak and feeble woman; but I have the heart and stomach of a king, and of a king of England too, and think foul scorn that Parma or Spain, or any prince of Europe, should dare to invade the borders of my realm; to which rather than any dishonour shall grow by me, I myself will take up arms, I myself will be your general, judge, and rewarder of every one of your virtues in the field. I know already, for your forwardness you have deserved rewards and crowns; and We do assure you in the word of a prince, they shall be duly paid you. In the mean time, my lieutenant general shall be in my stead, than whom never prince commanded a more noble or worthy subject; not doubting but by your obedience to my general, by your concord in the camp, and your valour in the field, we shall shortly have a famous victory over those enemies of my God, of my kingdom, and of my people.Now there's a great speech, eh?
Other things? Did I mention how slow the film was? Yeah, slow. And seeing the Spanish Armada burn in the background while Elizabeth watches on shore? Not so convincing; the ships looked really fake, too, in that cgi way.
The film condenses a lot of time (poor Archduke Charles! nearly 20 years late!), but that's how showing history on stage and in film works. And look, a couple months of sea battles and stuff in less than 15 minutes, and all within sight of land, too!
Good things? Cate Blanchett. I thought she did a good job with the role. The main theme of the music was really lush and gorgeous at points. There were lots of nice scenery setting shots, looking lush and lovely.