1 of 3
Warner Bros. Pictures
Catherine Zeta-Jones plays a controlling chef in "No Reservations." The film strives to be heartwarming but is predictable and bland.

"Elizabeth: The Golden Age" (Universal, 2007, PG-13, $29.98). Cate Blanchett returns as the Virgin Queen in this eye-catching but ultimately lukewarm sequel to Oscar-nominated 1998 costume drama that made Blanchett a star.

The year is 1585, and Protestant Queen Elizabeth I is still being threatened by Catholics under the leadership of King Phillip of Spain, who also happens to be the English monarch's brother-in-law. And she still hasn't married and produced an heir.

But what's that on the horizon? It's Sir Walter Raleigh (Clive Owen), who sails into court and woos Elizabeth. Does he love her for her, or is he just trying to find a sugar mama to fund his next expedition? Can Elizabeth fall in love with a commoner? Should she fall in love at all?

Elizabeth dithers and Raleigh turns his eye toward Bess, Elizabeth's lady-in-waiting (Abbie Cornish). When Elizabeth finds out, she comes unglued.

It's all pretty silly stuff.

While Elizabeth focuses on love, her adviser, Sir Francis (Geoffrey Rush), keeps an eye on the ship of state, uncovering Catholic plots here, there and everywhere. Even Elizabeth's cousin, Mary Queen of Scots, is implicated and ultimately gets the chop.

It's too bad director Shekhar Kapur focused on the gooey love story, because the secondary story lines (the invading Spanish Armada, Mary Queen of Scots) are much more interesting. However, Blanchett, who received an Academy Award nomination for her role in the film, does acquit herself nicely.

Bonus features: Deleted scenes; making-of documentary; behind-the-scenes production features; audio commentaries. — Todd Curtis

Other new DVDs released in time for Valentine's Day:

"Becoming Jane" (Buena Vista Home Entertainment, Feb. 12 release, PG, $29.99). Critics have questioned the historical facts of this film. It was inspired by the unproven, thwarted love affair of novelist Jane Austen, played by Ann Hathaway, and roguish Thomas Lefroy, a lawyer who later became chief justice of Ireland. Scottish actor James McAvoy stars as Lefroy.

The screenplay, based on Austen's letters and a 2000 book, is no biography, making assumptions about their friendship.

Regardless, "Becoming Jane," with its stellar cast, is a delightful addition to the film adaptations of Austen's novels. Hathaway is charming and has great chemistry with McAvoy ("The Last King of Scotland"). Actors James Cromwell ("Babe") and Maggie Smith ("Harry Potter") shine in supporting roles.

Bonus features: Featurette on Jane Austen, deleted scenes. — Angelyn N. Hutchinson

No Reservations" (Warner Home Video, Feb. 12 release, PG, $28.98). It's billed as a heartwarming tale of a controlling chef (Catherine Zeta-Jones) whose professional life is threatened by a new carefree sous chef (Aaron Eckhart). Unfortunately, the ingredients of this predictable filmmaking recipe create a bland romantic comedy. — Angelyn N. Hutchinson

"Feast of Love," (MGM, released, R, $29.99) The considerable talents of Academy Award winners Morgan Freeman and Greg Kinnear are wasted in this film by Academy Award-winning director Robert Benton ("Kramer vs. Kramer"). The plot is uninspiring, and the film certainly deserves its R rating for explicit sex scenes, suggestive sex scenes and dialogue, nudity and strong language. — Angelyn N. Hutchinson


E-MAIL: [email protected]; [email protected]