Cast: Hugh Bonneville, Laura Carmichael, Jim Carter, Raquel Cassidy
Director: Michael Engler
I want to preface this review by saying I have never watched a single episode of Downton Abbey, so bear with me on this review. With that in mind, I have no idea how this show was broadcast for six seasons after watching this movie. Seriously, it has to be the most melodramatic, self-indulgent premise I’ve ever seen. There’s no sense of urgency or conflict in this movie which creates an absolutely miserable experience for the audience. While fans of the show may enjoy seeing their favorite characters on the big screen and it is a very well-made movie, Downton Abbey won’t win over any new fans as it refuses to tackle anything more than shallow issues.
The film follows the Crawley family, a noble family in 1920s who maintain their regal home of Downton Abbey. When they find out that the King and Queen of England will be attending their home, the family and their staff must make sure that everything is in order before the visit if they are to make the right impression on the royal family. The main issue with this premise is that this plot creates a level of drama and suspense that just feels forced and unnecessary. When your main issue is whether or not the hot water will work before the King and Queen come to visit, it makes the problems seem very one-dimensional to the audience. Sure their are political and romantic elements to the movie that fans will relate to and see the importance of, but people outside of that circle will be bored to tears. When a movie like this is 122 minutes, you better believe you feel every single one of them and it drags to a point where you are begging for the movie to be over. On the other hand, you have to admit that even though the plot is ridiculous, it’s a very well put together movie purely from a production standpoint. When you have a movie full of amazing costumes and detailed sets, you know purely by the aesthetics of each scene that it will be pretty to watch. You don’t have to like the events that take place in these scenes, but you have to admit the movie looks good while the events go on. There are a couple of interesting and enticing performances to aid the way the movie looks, but when you have a story and concept as dull as this one, all of that effort goes to waste. I know there are people out there who are in love with the show and these characters, and if you’re one of those people, you will continue to feel the way you already do. If you’re a complete stranger towards this series like I am, you’re going to have a very tough time caring or understanding why this show was that big in the first place. Looking at the amount of money the movie made, it’s clear to see that people wanted to see more of this show and while I don’t see why they wanted to, fans of Downton Abbey clearly got their wish.
Overall, Downton Abbey is not the type of movie I would sprint out the door to go see, and while there definitely positive traits that you can associate with this movie with, I don’t believe the plot is one of them. I consider the plot to be the most important port of a movie, and with how lackluster Downton Abbey’s is, it really stifles the additional elements that would otherwise make it successful. It might be a good-looking movie, but Downton Abbey is 100% a style-over-substance type movie, so if you like that you won’t be disappointed but if you don’t you’ll be in for a long viewing.
Overall Score: 5/10