We return to Downton Abbey in 1927, about two years after the series' timeline ends. The film opens with the tracking of a special letter that is en route to Lord Grantham (Hugh Bonneville; Paddington). He opens the letter while eating breakfast, announcing that they will be visited by the King and Queen of England during their tour of the Yorkshire countryside. Everyone is, of course, excited and nervous about the visit and go into "prep" mode. Their excitement gets cut short, however, after they learn that they will be expected to stay in the background and not participate in the serving of the King and Queen - the royals have their own staff that will take over the duties of the house. This does not go over well with the staff and they concoct a scheme to make sure that they receive the honor of serving their King and Queen and that their highnesses know that Downton Abbey is taken care of by a proud and capable staff. Their plan ultimately works, but not without some minor hiccups.
In the film, most of the veteran cast returns, including the before-mentioned Hugh Bonneville (Lord Grantham, Robert Crawley), Elizabeth McGovern (Lady Grantham, Cora Crawley; Ordinary People), Maggie Smith (Dowager Countess Violet Crawley; The Harry Potter Series), Michelle Dockery ( Lady Mary Talbot; Anna Karenina), Laura Carmichael (Edith Pelham, Marchioness of Hexham; Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy), Allen Leech (Tom Branson; The Imitation Game), Jim Carter (Charles Carson; Shakespeare in Love), Joanne Froggat (Anna Bates; Dark Angel), and Phyllis Logan (Elsie Hughes; Secrets & Lies). Also among those who returned was Lesley Nicol (Mrs. Patmore; The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe), Sophie McShera (Daisy Mason; Cinderella), and Robert James-Collier (Thomas Barrow; The Ritual). The entire cast is just too large to keep naming but it was nice how many were able to return to keep the fans happy.
The cast, even with it being so incredibly large, all work together in unison and give you the feeling that, similarly, those "upstairs" and "downstairs" all work together in the household to keep it going and make it the great house we all see. The film is full of the kind of low-key laughs that we have come to love, as well as the plot twists and drama we all expect. There are also some really touching moments that draw you in and pull on your heartstrings. It's everything that a true fan of the series loves! We also get to see more AMAZING clothing, which is something I really love about this franchise.
The 1080p video resolution is what you would expect from a Blu-ray with little artifacting to be seen. The color pallet, while mostly sedate, does offer a wonderful blend of hues. I only wish there had been a 4K version as I'm sure every minute detail (i.e. the clothes) would be sharp and clean. The DTS-HD master audio fairs slightly better with crisp dialogue and an incredibly orchestrated soundtrack. The sounds envelop the viewer and whisks them away into the world of Downton Abbey.
Special features of this release include:
- Upstairs & Downstairs Cast Conversations - First we see the "upstairs" cast members Elizabeth McGovern, Allen Leech, Michelle Dockery, Laura Carmichael, and Hugh Bonneville discuss the film and their roles, as well as how they feel about returning for the film. We then see the "downstairs" cast members Jim Carter, Joanne Froggatt, Michael C. Fox, Phyllis Logan, Sophie McShera, and Robert James Collier, along with Imelda Staunton discuss the same topics as the others.
- The Royal Visit - A look into what goes into portraying the royal visit of the King and Queen and how the estate must rise to the task of such an honor.
- True to the Twenties - A look at what it takes to accurately reflect the time period of the film through set design, costumes, and props.
- Welcome to Downton Abbey - A look at capturing the true star of the film (and series), Highclere Castle and how everything was ramped up for the film versus the series.
- The Brilliance of Julian Fellowes - Here, we appreciate the bringing together of such a large cast and numerous plotlines by Fellowes and what it took to keep it all together.
- Deleted Scenes
- Downton Abbey Series Recap - Phyllis Logan and Jim Carter recap the six seasons of the Downton Abbey Series along with highlights from throughout the years.