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Downton Abbey (2019) - Blu-ray Review

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Downton Abbey

Polish the silver, set out the good china, and put a kettle on. The Crawleys are back! Fans of the popular PBS television series that aired for six seasons can once again spend a little time at the sprawling English countryside estate as the film version of Downton Abbey finally hits theaters. And even better news is that the entire cast – even show writer Julian Fellowes – returns to pick up where things last left off four years ago.

"For fans of the TV series, Downton Abbey, the movie is as comfortable and welcoming as a well-worn tweed cardigan"


The year is 1927, the sprawling mansion is a beehive of activity as word has just arrived via motorcycle messenger that the King and Queen of England will be staying at Downton Abbey for a night as they continue their Royal tour of Yorkshire. A nervous Nellie anyway, new head of the house Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery) is particularly in a bustle today as she fears that new house butler Mr. Barrow (Robert James-Collier) won’t be quite up to the task of such a Royal gathering. So, as we saw in the trailers, former butler Mr. Carson (Jim Carter) joins the staff to resume his former duties.

Downstairs, the staff is equally in a tizzy as preparations are interrupted by news that the King and Queen’s royal servants will handle all preparations for the visit. A snooty French chef, gruff secretaries, and haughty valets drop in and basically tell the Downton staff to step aside for the weekend. Naturally, the news isn’t handled very well by the staff – particularly by fiery cook Miss Patmore (Leslie Nicol), resulting in an uprising of sorts that brings about some genuinely funny shenanigans. One involves socially awkward Mr. Molesley (Kevin Doyle) who can barely contain his excitement about the opportunity of serving the Royals.

But the real drama is taking place upstairs as Violet Crawley, Dowager Countess of Grantham (Maggie Smith) continues her feud with a family cousin, Lady Maud Bagshaw (Imelda Staunton) who has not only claim to the family inheritance, but a difference of opinion as to whom the inherence should go. The sticky situation brings about a quite satisfying resolution.

While the royal visit forms the backbone of the story, there are no fewer than nine or ten subplots we visit throughout the film’s two-hour runtime. There’s a budding romance, an assassination plot, a Stonewall Inn-type arrest, and the ongoing meme-worthy sniping between Violet and her foil Isobel Merton (Penelope Wilton) that gave us so much trashy enjoyment in the TV series. But it’s the aforementioned staff rebellion that carries the most weight as we see a group of people having to fight for a chance to have their worth measured.

Downton Abbey the movie isn’t revelatory or enlightening, nor does it necessarily answer any important questions or take on many heavy themes. And for that matter, neither did the TV show. That’s not what either is about. Though a large part of my personal enjoyment of the Downton Abbey story came from Fellowe’s insistence on running the story alongside real-life historical events – he does in the film as well, the film’s biggest draw will unquestionably be the show’s fans who come looking to, once again, share a spot of tea with some old friends. And no one will leave disappointed.Downton Abbey

And due recognition must be given to Fellowes for rembering his audience and to director Michael Engler who manages to successfully keep all the film’s many characters and subplots (perhaps too many) in the air at once. Though some get a bit more screen time than others, Engler ensures that nearly every character we’ve come to love, gets something to say and do. Cora Crawley (Elizabeth McGovern), Lady Edith (Laura Carmichael), Tom Branson (Allen Leech), Anna Bates (Joanne Froggatt), Mrs. Hughes (Phyllis Logan), and more. They are all there.

Undoubtedly, the big question on the minds of the show’s fans is, whether or not the movie is as good as the show. The answer is an unequivocal “yes.” For fans of the TV series, Downton Abbey the movie is as comfortable and welcoming as a well-worn tweed cardigan.

4/5 beers

Downton Abbey

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Home Video Distributor: Universal
Available on Blu-ray
- December 17, 2019
Screen Formats: 2.39:1
Subtitles
: English SDH, French, Spanish
Audio:
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1; French (Canada): DTS 5.1; Spanish: DTS 5.1
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; Two-disc set; DVD copy
Region Encoding: Locked to Region A

As expected, Universal have rolled out the royal treatment for their Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Code edition release of Downton Abbey that comes with a spectacular 1080p 2.39:1 transfer, a master audio 7.1 audio track, and more than 30 minutes of bonus content. This release proves to be a spectacular bonus for fans of the show and a great reference-quality piece to show off your home theaters system.

Included in the eco-case package are a blu-ray disc, DVD copy, and a Movies Anywhere digital redemption card. Accompanying the presentation is a feature commentary with Director Michael Engler as well as a handful of bonus featurettes that total more than a half-hour of bonus material.

Video

On the video side of things, one could not expect a better handling, with the lush English countryside putting on her best show while interior shots - which often feature lush fabrics and intricately detailed accouterments – also hold with a clean, crisp transfer that rarely falters.

Fast forward to the royal parade chapter(s) to marvel at the bright, well-saturated colors that grace this masterful 1080p 2.39:1 widescreen transfer.

Audio

There's not a lot to crow about on the audio side as this is mostly a dialogue-driven affair, but audio is always perfectly audible as it works the front-center, center, and right-center channels appropriately. Rears come alive occasionally, especially during the more lively gentleman's bar scenes that feature live music.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • Feature commentary audio track with director Michael Engler.

Special Features:

Included on the blu-ray disc are three short featurettes that contain some behind-the-scenes footage as well as interviews and discussions pertaining to certain aspects of the film's making. For those who didn't follow the television series, there is a series recap featurette from Jim Carter and Phyllis Logan to help get you up to speed.

  • Deleted Scenes
  • Upstairs & Downstairs Cast Conversations
  • The Royal Visit
  • True to the Twenties
  • Welcome to Downton Abbey
  • The Brilliance of Julian Fellowes
  • Downton Abbey Series Recap

Blu-ray Rating:

  Movie 4/5 stars
  Video  5/5 stars
  Audio 3/5 stars
  Extras 4/5 stars

Overall Blu-ray Experience

4/5 stars

Downton Abbey

MPAA Rating: PG for thematic elements, some suggestive material, and language.
Runtime:
122 mins
Director
: Michael Engler
Writer:
Julian Fellowes
Cast:
Michelle Dockery, Matthew Goode, Tuppence Middleton
Genre
: Drama
Tagline:
We've Been Expecting You.
Memorable Movie Quote: "No maids. No Valets. No nannies even."
Theatrical Distributor:
Focus Features
Official Site: http://www.focusfeatures.com/downton-abbey
Release Date:
September 20, 2019
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
December 17, 2019.
Synopsis: The continuing story of the Crawley family, wealthy owners of a large estate in the English countryside in the early 20th century.

Downton Abbey

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