Just as charming as the six years of the show that came before it, Downton Abbey is a wonderful way to be reunited with old friends.
Not many years have passed since we left the Crawley Family, and life at the grand estate seems to be carrying on as usual, except for maybe a few new modern trinkets here and there. The routine day to day life of both the family and their employees gets turned upside down when they receive a letter from Buckingham Palace, stating that the King and Queen will be spending a few days at Downton Abbey.
At first, everyone is overjoyed at the prospect of being honored by such a visit, but once they meet the numerous servants who work for the royal family, their feeling of happiness is quickly deflated and replaced by agitation and offense. With both the upstairs and downstairs tirelessly preparing for the big day, it seems they'll have no time for their own personal dramas and needs, but with it being Downton Abbey, that can never be the case.
The Downton Abbey movie is a unique experience, where if you were a fan of the show, you're practically guaranteed to love it, because you are already so familiar with the concept and characters that feature in the story. If you have never seen any moment of the famous series, than your liking of the movie could potentially be more fickle and not as easily won. Unlike many films that have been based on television shows, Downton Abbey doesn't spend hardly any time reintroducing the characters. The film is specifically catered to preexisting fans, and as one of those long term watchers of the show, I rather enjoyed the fact that the movie wasn't explaining to me plots and characters that I had already known so well. On the other side of that, it does make it tricky for those who are unfamiliar with it, but honestly, I strongly doubt many of those who journeyed to the theater to see went without already knowing the Crawley family and the other lovable people that feature in their lives.
So, with a movie that is essentially just an extended episode of the series, what makes it so special? Two words: Maggie Smith. I don't care what the movie or show is, Maggie Smith just always makes it better. There is no one who is capable of delivering an insult with such class and posh ferocity as she. Whether as Professor McGonagall in Harry Potter, or as her beloved character in this franchise, Violet Crawley, there is nobody who can match her priceless wit and delivery. The only person in this film that comes close is Imelda Staunton, who plays the Queen's Lady in Waiting. The two women battled it out as fierce enemies in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, and I for one was immensely glad to be able to see the their verbal sparring take to the screen once more.
Besides its reliable cast, what really makes this movie worth seeing is the grandeur of the estate itself. When watching Downton Abbey at home, you get a sense of the vast beauty of the title home and the land in which it is located, but seeing it in a theater on such a large scale really hones in on how spectacular it really is. It almost seems silly to me now, that anyone could think such a remarkable dwelling could be worthy of the small screen, because it most certainly deserves to be given the full cinematic treatment. When I sat in my theater seat and I heard that familiar Downton Abbey tune, I found I got very excited, but when that music combined with the sweeping view of the castle; instant chills.
Downton Abbey certainly has its moments of forced humor or silliness in an attempt to bring out the most lovable aspects of each of its characters, but for the most part, I found it delightful rather than obnoxious. There's nothing overly serious about the film continuation of the series, and honestly that's a bit of a relief considering some of the events the fans endured throughout its original run. Downton Abbey is lovely and sweet, and a perfect way to spend a relaxing afternoon at the movies.