Downton Abbey review
What can I say about the TV series Downton Abbey? While I can't say a lot about the plot and characters, as I haven't seen the show, it has made a big impact, even here in America where it ran for six seasons (or series as the British say) on PBS. I know it has to do with a wealthy aristocratic family and the lives of them and the servants. Judging by the house, of course it would need to be run like it's own business. I'm sure a lot of people came for it's story, but I think the major draw was the sets, costumes, and the feeling that your watching something classier then your typical cop show or reality show.
Having only seen two episodes, I see Downton Abbey as a high budgeted soap opera. There's nothing wrong with that as soap operas do keep the focus of the plot on the family, thus the need to write compelling characters in order to make it work. It just so happens that because of the 1920s timeframe, Downton Abby gets to also throw in a lot of historical context in relation to the wealthy family. So let's see what the Downton Abbey movie brings to the screen.
In 1927, the head of the family, Robert Crawley (played by Hugh Bonneville) has received a letter that King George and Queen Mary will be visiting and staying at Downton Abbey as a part of the royal tour. He informs the rest of the family including his wife Cora (played by Elizabeth McGovern), daughter Lady Mary Talbot (played by Michelle Dockery), her husband Tom Branson (played by Allen Leech) and his mother Violet (played by Maggie Smith) who all have different reactions. Some are excited and some are ready to confront other family regarding inheritance and just who is who.
Meanwhile, the staff, as lead by butler Thomas Barrow (played by Robert James-Collier), is thrilled that the royal family will be visiting the estate. However, the family feels that he won't be up to the responsibility, so they ask former butler Mr. Carson (played by Jim Carter) to temporary return to manage things. Though the staff feels ready, their dismayed to not only find out that the royal family will be brining their own staff, but those at Downton Abbey are told to stay out of the way. Will the staff be able to prove themselves?
For someone who hasn't seen the show, what did I think of Downton Abbey? The story itself seems fine. I admire a movie for having a simple goal; to simply see that a royal visit goes according to plan. Now the use of a large cast is another thing. With the countless family members, staff members, and now with Buckingham Palace, that is a lot to juggle. Some of the side stories are easy to grasp and others clearly have more background thanks to the long running show. So the question is whether this was better as a show. I'd say so, but it isn't without it's merits.
The set design and costumes are really impressive, even if they are leftovers from the show. I can understand how a large audience can get sucked into this world. Some of me wishes I could be a part of this world, even though I know I could never high class enough. All the actors feel like their in the right place, but again, that probably has to do with the fact they’ve already done this for seven seasons.
Unlike a lot of movies based on TV shows that are adaptations, this is a continuation of a larger story. Would have I have gotten into it had I'd seen it? Probably. There were some parts I had sympathy for, such as the staff not wanting someone else to do their jobs. But whenever it cut to the aristocratic family, I feel like I'm steeping into an argument that started a while ago. Because of that, inclined to believe that the movie was made for the fans and not newcomers. It's not a way for someone unfamiliar to be introduced. It's something to satisfy someone whose had plenty of Downton Abbey and wants more.
I'll give this three Downton Abbey houses out of five. Overall, I'm not sure if this was for me, but I can see a lot of people enjoying it anyhow. I'd say watch some of the show first to know what your getting into. Heck, it might be better if you see the entire series. So check out the show first before you check into the movie.