Downton Abbey: A New Era Review – A Lively & Emotional Return To A Beloved World

Sophie McShera and Lesley Nicol in Downton Abbey: A New Era

The first one Downton Abbey the film, even with a plot involving an illegitimate child and an assassination attempt on the King of England, felt remarkably low stakes; it was more of an opportunity to reunite with beloved characters from the TV series than anything else. With Downton Abbey: A New Era, Fellowes and Curtis sped things up a bit. There are more nuances to the show’s soapy drama, and Fellowes has cooked up some really fun situations for the characters to experience. In the case of those like Mary, Mr. Carson (Jim Carter) and Daisy (Sophie McShera), Downton Abbey: A New Era thrusts them into unique positions, allowing the cast and Fellowes to demonstrate just how far they’ve come. Longtime fans of the series will no doubt be amused by some of the storylines that arise; for example, there’s a scene with the downstairs staff in the late game that’s likely to result in smiles and laughs.

In this direction, Downton Abbey: A New Era more than justifies its existence as a surprise movie sequel based on a TV show that ended conclusively. This makes for an entertaining viewing experience, even if it still feels like one long TV episode. Curtis tries to bring in a cinematic touch with the help of editor Adam Recht and cinematographer Andrew Dunn, but the action still comes across as episodic. Fortunately, however, Downton Abbey: A New Era compensates for this with the overall beauty of Dunn’s visuals and John Lunn’s stunning score. This world may have started on TV, but it’s adapted to the big screen instead. It helps that Downton Abbey: A New Era widens his scope to visit the south of France for the dowager’s surprise villa plot.

Harry Haddon-Paton, Laura Carmichael, Tuppence Middleton and Allen Leech in Downton Abbey: A New Era

With a cast as large as Downton Abbey‘s, it’s inevitable that some stars will get the short end of the stick. That was true in the first movie, and it’s still true here. However, there are many who get sweet moments to shine. Of the returning main cast, Smith remains a standout. Although the first movie seemed to give her a fitting farewell to Violet, here she returns with several witty new beards and poignant moments with characters like Mary and Isobel (Penelope Wilton). Smith is a delight, whether she’s giving advice to her granddaughter or reacting with dismay to the movie star’s intruders. Elizabeth McGovern as Cora gets a surprising storyline that allows her and Bonneville to have a good time, and of the staff downstairs, McShera may have the most fun. Overall, the cast is excellent, and newcomers like Dominic West, Laura Braddock, and Hugh Dancy find their way easily into the established cast of characters.

Does the world really need another Downton Abbey film? Some would say it’s not, but first and foremost, it’s still a fan movie. As such, Downton Abbey: a short story Time is a triumph. After several tumultuous years, returning to a well-known universe with beloved characters is a blessing, and anyone who has followed the Crawleys will find the film a lot of fun. Between the fun storylines and the gorgeous shots of the eponymous estate, there’s real heart to this film. The audience will find themselves laughing and crying as the credits roll. And while it seems that A new Time really ends it all, there could definitely be room for more Downton Abbey in the future.

Downton Abbey: A New Era hits theaters Friday, May 20. It is 124 minutes long and is rated PG for some suggestive references, language, and thematic elements.

Our assessment:

4 out of 5 (Excellent)


More information about Downton Abbey: A New Era Review – A Lively & Emotional Return To A Beloved World

Sophie McShera and Lesley Nicol in Downton Abbey: A New Era
The first Downton Abbey movie, even with a plot involving an illegitimate child and an assassination attempt against the King of England, felt remarkably low stakes; it was more of an opportunity to reunite with the television show’s beloved characters than anything else. With Downton Abbey: A New Era, Fellowes and Curtis have stepped things up a bit. There are more shades of the show’s soapy drama and Fellowes has concocted some truly fun situations for the characters to experience. In the cases of those like Mary, Mr. Carson (Jim Carter), and Daisy (Sophie McShera), Downton Abbey: A New Era pushes them into unique positions, thus allowing both the actors and Fellowes to demonstrate just how far they’ve come. Longtime fans of the series will no doubt be amused by some of the scenarios that arise; for example, there’s a scene with the downstairs staff late in the game that will likely lead to smiles and laughter.
In that sense, Downton Abbey: A New Era more than justifies its existence as a surprise sequel to a movie based on a television show that ended conclusively. It makes for an entertaining viewing experience, though there is still an impression that this is a TV installment made long. Curtis tries to bring some cinematic flair with the help of editor Adam Recht and cinematographer Andrew Dunn, but the action still comes across as episodic. Luckily, though, Downton Abbey: A New Era makes up for it with the overall beauty of Dunn’s visuals and the sweeping score from John Lunn. This world may have begun on television, but it is rather suited for the big screen. It helps that Downton Abbey: A New Era broadens its scope to visit the south of France for the plot involving the Dowager’s surprise villa.

Harry Haddon-Paton, Laura Carmichael, Tuppence Middleton, and Allen Leech in Downton Abbey: A New Era
With a cast as large as Downton Abbey‘s, it is inevitable that some stars might get the short end of the stick. This was true in the first film, and it’s still true here. However, there are plenty who get sweet moments to shine. Of the returning core cast, Smith remains a standout. Though the first film appeared to give her Violet a fitting send-off, she returns here with several new witty barbs and poignant moments with characters like Mary and Isobel (Penelope Wilton). Smith is a delight, whether she is imparting advice to her granddaughter or reacting with dismay to the movie star interlopers. Elizabeth McGovern as Cora gets a surprising storyline that allows both her and Bonneville some great moments, and of the downstairs staff, McShera perhaps gets to have the most fun. Overall, the cast is excellent, and newcomers like Dominic West, Laura Braddock, and Hugh Dancy weave their way into the established group of characters with ease.
Does the world really need another Downton Abbey movie? Some might argue it does not, but first and foremost, this remains a film for the fans. As such, Downton Abbey: A New Era is a triumph. After several tumultuous years, returning to a well-known universe with beloved characters is a balm and anyone who has followed along with the Crawleys will find plenty of enjoyment within the film. Between the amusing storylines and gorgeous shots of the eponymous estate, there is real heart within this film. Audiences will find themselves laughing and crying by the time the credits roll. And while it seems like A New Era really does bring everything to a close, there could definitely be room for more Downton Abbey in the future.

Downton Abbey: A New Era releases in theaters on Friday, May 20. It is 124 minutes long and rated PG for some suggestive references, language and thematic elements.

Our Rating:
4 out of 5 (Excellent)

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