Downton Abbey (AU - PG/UK - PG/US - PG) 

In a word: Comfortable

Downton Abbey

 Jim Carter stars as Mr Carson in Downtown Abbey. PICTURE: Credit: Jaap Buitendijk / © 2019 Focus Features, LLC

Like meeting up with an old friend, Downton Abbey's big screen debut is a continuation of writer Julian Fellowes' wildly popular TV series centred on the upstairs/downstairs lives of the fictional Earl and Lady Grantham (played by Hugh Bonneville and Elizabeth McGovern respectively), their expansive family and the servants who run the family stately home, Downton Abbey.

"This is pure escapism. But if you're expecting anything dramatically different from the TV series, you'll be disappointed. Downton Abbey was made for the fans and, in that sense, it's a safe bet rather than something daringly new."

The action, set in 1927, picks up where the series ended up and the household is bubbling over with excitement as the household prepares for a visit from King George V (played by Simon Jones) and his wife Queen Mary (Geraldine ) as part of a tour of England's north (where the house is purportedly located). But feathers are soon ruffled as members of the Royal Household turn up to take over the show downstairs and bump the Downton staff aside as they attend to the royal couple themselves.

There's plenty of sub-plots and mini-scandals woven into the overarching storyline - many of which were covered to some degree in the TV series - including one involving former chauffeur-turned-son-in-law, Tom Branson (Allen Leech), another surrounding the recall of former butler Carson (Jim Carter) to replace Barrow (Robert James-Collier) who doesn't seem up to the job of hosting the royal visit, and, of course, the constant sparring between the Dowager Lady Grantham (Maggie Smith) and her constant companion Isobel Merton (Penelope Wilton).

Following on from the TV film, which while a stand-alone story will be best enjoyed by those famliar with the TV series, provides a glimpse into a lifestyle that was facing extinction as the 20th century brought with it increasingly rapid change. Familiar faces have returned (others include Phyllis Logan as housekeeper Mrs Hughes, Lesley Nicol as the cook Mrs Patmore and Joanna Froggatt as lady's maid Anna Bates), and, as was the case in the TV series, there's plenty of lingering shots of the magnificent house (actually Highclere Castle in Hampshire) and its opulent interiors, and small moments of humour and pathos can be found in almost every scene.

This is pure escapism. If you're expecting anything dramatically different from the TV series, you'll be disappointed. Downton Abbey was made for the fans and it's a safe bet rather than taking the story down any daringly new paths.