Downton Abbey: A New Era – Blu-ray Review

Downton Abbey: A New Era

If you’re an avid fan of the PBS series and the first film, your return to Downton should feel like a warm blanket on a cold day. Unfortunately, if you’re not familiar with their backstories (like I am), Downton Abbey: A New Era may get confusing.

Viewers familiar with Downton Abbey will find everything they expect—strong performances, witty dialogue, and an elaborate production design. Writer Julian Fellows has the unenviable task of balancing so many characters. However, this time he wisely moves those in the background in 2019’s Downton Abbey to the foreground and vice versa. 

Unfortunately, A New Era stumbles in having too much going on simultaneously—a natural byproduct of having a large ensemble. Some characters have a limited amount of screentime and are simply there to advance the plot before cutting to someone else. He does manage to give each familiar face at least one prominent moment. Chief among them is Maggie Smith, who once again steals the show as Violet Crawley, the cantankerous Dowager Countess of Grantham. Smith is excellent when it comes to her dry wit and deadpan zingers. 

Downton Abbey: A New Era follows a similar path as the first film, bringing in outsiders to shake things up. This time, it’s a visit from a film crew and when the family visits French nobles in the French Riviera. Watching how the characters react to these proceedings makes for some great fun. It’s also how non-fans (such as myself) can enjoy this film without being aware of the history of the characters.

Overall, Downton Abbey: A New Era stays true to itself to please its huge fanbase and provides enough entertainment for casual fans. It offers a lovely goodbye to the past but also opens up new storylines with a new generation that will carry the franchise forward.

Movie Rating: 3.5/5 atoms

Downton Abbey: A New Era - Hugh Bonneville, Elizabeth McGovern, and Laura Carmichael

Video

Downton Abbey: A New Era hits Blu-ray with a 1080p MPEG-AVC with a 2.39:1 aspect ratio. The picture has relatively high contrast, leading to some bright whites and inky blacks. Ultimately, the black levels are so dark that it leads to a loss of details in the shadows. The colors also have a natural colorization, ranging from the rustic hues of Downton Abbey to the rich greens and blues of the outdoors. The picture clarity puts every fine detail of the impeccable production design on full display in this Blu-ray release.

Video Rating: 4.5/5 atoms

Downton Abbey: A New Era - Allen Leech and Lucy Smith

Audio

Downton Abbey: A New Era hits Blu-ray with a Dolby Atmos and a core 7.1 Dolby TrueHD Master Audio track. This review will reflect Downton Abbey: A New Era‘s Dolby Atmos track. As you might expect, the film is dialogue-driven and doesn’t necessarily require the use of a spectacular home theater system. However, the surround sound channels are still effective—expanding the soundstage and creating a sense of envelopment when a scene calls for it. For the most part, the sound stage is limited to atmospheric effects and the occasional pans. However, the Atmos presentation excels in highlighting John Lunn’s music score. Overall, the Atmos mix may not wow viewers, but it complements the film very well, and that’s all that matters.

Audio Rating: 4.5/5 atoms

Downton Abbey: A New Era - Dominic West and Robert James Collier

Special Features

Downton Abbey: A New Era‘s Blu-ray disc has the following special features on Blu-ray disc:

  • Good to be Back
  • Return to Downton Abbey: The Making of a New Era
  • A Legendary Character
  • Creating the Film… Within the Film
  • Her Majesty’s Yacht Britannia
  • Spill the Tea (Time)
  • Feature Commentary with Director Simon Curtis
Features Assessment

Good to Be Back is a skippable featurette that has the whole cast talking about how happy they are to be back and making the next Downton Abbey film. On the other hand, Return to Downton Abbey is an in-depth making-of featurette that explores the exquisite work each production department contributed to the film. If you’ve seen the movie, then you know why Legendary Character is an appropriate featurette for this Blu-ray release. It looks back at the character’s history on the show and why Maggie Smith was born to play the Dowager Countess of Grantham. Creating the Film delves into the making of the film within the film. The amount of extra research and the details that were taken into account is mind-blowing. 

Her Majesty’s Yacht Britannia follows the true story of the former royal yacht of the British monarchy. It also reveals why it was the appropriate vessel to play the cross-channel ferry in A New EraSpill the Tea has Allen Leech and Laura Carmichael divulging details of what on-set life was like during the filming of A New Era. Simon Curtis’s feature commentary is an intriguing track that feels more like a play-by-play commentary than a typical modern-day director’s commentary. 

Special Features Rating: 3.5/5 atoms


Overall, Downton Abbey: A New Era perfectly balances the desire to appease longtime fans while creating a film that newcomers can enjoy as well. The video and audio presentations are sublime, while the bonus features are a bit hit-or-miss.

Overall Rating: 4/5 atoms

Downton Abbey: A New Era is now available in stores on Blu-ray.

This Blu-ray was reviewed using a retail/advance copy/unit provided by Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.

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