Downton Abbey: A New Era (4K Blu-ray Review)

OK, confession time… I’ve never seen a second of the Downton Abbey TV series.  Beloved as it is, I never thought the show would hold my interest.  Be that as it may, some force of nature propelled me to put my hat in the ring to receive a review copy of this, the second installment of the Downton Abbey film series. Subtitled A New Era, something intrigued me to take a look into the world of the Crawley family, with the matriarch, the Dowager Countess (Maggie Smith) and her son Robert, the Earl of Grantham (Hugh Bonneville) at the lead. What I encountered was a lovely world I was pleasantly enthralled with. Read more about the new film below, and be sure to get your copy by clicking the paid link that follows the review!


The much-anticipated cinematic return of Downton Abbey follows the Crawleys and their staff as they welcome a movie crew and their glamorous stars to Downton for the filming of a new silent movie, while other members of the family go on a grand adventure to a villa in the south of France to uncover a mystery about the Dowager Countess and her past. With a screenplay by Julian Fellowes and starring the original cast alongside exciting new additions, DOWNTON ABBEY: A NEW ERA is packed full of exuberant moments, excitement and humor, tears of joy and sadness and new beginnings for all your favorite characters.

To prepare for this sequel, I made a quick study of the series thanks to a cast led series recap (YouTube for the win!) and watched the first film.  I was immediately taken with the hybrid of period drama, dry comedy, mystery, and family history of the show and first film.  The Crawley family and their staff are all fully fleshed out in the films.  If you don’t know them, of course the vast amount of them can be a little confusing.  The main story involves the Abbey being used as a location for a silent film.  Of course, the decision to open the space for such a thing is a source of debate.  Also on the agenda in the film is a French Villa left to the Dowager Countess from someone the family has never heard of before they learn about the Countess’s good fortune.

**If you haven’t seen the first film, then I urge you to skip the rest of the critical review, to avoid anything that may spoil this film for you…**

The countess is also getting her affairs in order, as she is preparing for her inevitable death. As she announced in the previous film, she wasn’t going to be around much longer. This sends Robert into a tailspin, and his wife urges him and other family members to take a trip to the South of France to see the villa that they’ve just learned they own.  There, they meet the Marquis and Madama Matrimil who are the former owners, who are both skewed on whether to welcome the Crawleys or send them away.  There are also some implications to Countess Violet’s past and possible family differences that could be dire.

Back at Downton, the staff and remaining family all work to get things ready for the film crew.  Upon arrival, a snooty leading lady and a very comfortable leading man make themselves a fixture at the Abbey.  The actor, Guy Dexter is a closeted gay man, who falls for the closeted butler of Downton, Barrow.  Also, once the film goes from a silent one to a “talkie”, things get sticky for Myrna Dalgleish, who has a face for films but a cockney accent.  The day has come in her career that she’s been dreading.  The backdrop of family drama and filmmaking drama truly draw you in, and the staff, as usual, bring order, advice, kindness, and respect to the proceedings.

I feel like if I dive deeper into the film’s story, I will be giving away far too much.  The overstuffed cast is given quite a bit to do, with plotlines coming and going with closure and an airtight sense of storytelling.  There aren’t any huge revelations here, but the feeling of comfort and goodwill radiates for the runtime.  Maggie Smith is the leader of the Crawleys and often carries the best bits of the film, just by simply being.  Elsewhere, tender work from Hugh Bonneville, Elizabeth McGovern, Samantha Bond, Michelle Dockery, Jim Carter, Penelope Wilton, and Imelda Staunton among many others truly shines. Seeing all these characters, even as they are new to me feels like a warm hug.  The sweeping sets, gorgeous music and truly beautiful direction all play out spectacularly and make this film one that somehow betters the first entry, all while still working as a condensed season of the series.

For fans of the show, Downton Abbey: A New Era will be a comfortable rehash of a favorite show.  For newcomers, this is a great film to work up to, and for me, this and the first film are reason to go grab the complete series Blu-ray set and hopefully sometime soon.  The film is a true delight, and with top notch audio and visual presentations, this one is a definite recommend for me!


  • Encoding: HEVC / H.265
  • Resolution: 4K (2160p)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
  • Layers: BD-100
  • HDR: HDR10/Dolby Vision
  • Clarity/Detail: From the opening through to the end, A New Era shines in 4K. Given a gorgeous native 4K transfer, the film is color rich, and full of detail.  Whether at Downton or in the French Riviera, there is a gorgeous look about each set piece or location.  There are no weak spots here, with much of the film being a treat to look at.  Even if the darkest corners of the Abbey or the brightest beach in France, there is nothing to spoil the visual feast.
  • Depth: Being a film that doesn’t use a lot of overt special effects, the use of vintage-inspired visuals, lighting and props all lend to the eye-catching foregrounds and backgrounds. There are lots of lovely visual things to take in as you delve into the film. This is absolutely the closest thing to being there. There are quite a few special effects moments believe it or not (I found this out in the special features…) and they are flawless too, even in the unforgiving 4K format, and they’re handled with lovely finesse in this presentation.
  • Black Levels: Blacks are flawless for the duration of the film. Gorgeous, deep and inky.
  • Color Reproduction: Colors are vibrant, varied, and lovely all-around. The film is very warm, and even when you move from Downton to the French Riviera, the look continues to be sumptuous and gorgeous, with HDR leading itself to a beautiful, more lifelike look.
  • Flesh Tones: Flesh tones are beautiful and natural. Makeup is not heavy, and overall, every actor looks beautiful here.
  • Noise/Artifacts: Digitally shot, A New Era looks absolutely flawless.


  • Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos, Spanish and French Dolby Digital 5.1
  • Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
  • Dynamics: You would expect a “talky” film like A New Era to be disappointingly flat, but this film has an exceptional Dolby Atmos track. Dynamics wise, this is a static mix, but almost always active.  The estate is always engulfed in ambient sounds, with nature or characters in the channels surrounding us.  The music is gorgeous and often fills the space when those ambient sounds aren’t there in smaller moments.
  • Height: Height channels are most present in scenes on the way to and in the South of France. Wedding sequences, and parts involving the filming of the movie within the movie also give moments of height.
  • Low Frequency Extension: LFE works its magic with the music and in traveling sequences. More subtle than most of the categories we review, but lovely all the same here.
  • Surround Sound Presentation: Surrounds are all lovely ambience, surrounding you into the world of Downton and the people who inhabit it.
  • Dialogue Reproduction: Flawless like the rest of it!


Downton Abbey: A New Era arrives home in a “Collector’s Edition” 4K set with a hybrid glossy/matte slipcover with embossed lettering and includes a Blu-ray and Digital Code.  Features are actually quite interesting and are:

  • Good To Be Back (4K, Dolby Vision, 3:38): A summary of actors expressing excitement about returning to Downton.
  • Return to Downton Abbey – The Making Of A New Era (4K, Dolby Vision, 11:40): A short, but interesting feature that showed me that there are special effects in a film like this,
  • A Legendary Character (4K, Dolby Vision, 4:40): A short tribute to Maggie Smith, the Iconic Dowager Countess Violet.
  • Creating The Film Within The Film (4K, Dolby Vision, 9:26): A look at the vintage vehicles, clothing, cameras and microphones that make the look of the making of the fictional film look so authentic.
  • Her Majesty’s Yacht Britannia (4K, Dolby Vision, 2:53): The actual Britannia, an elegant royal yacht, is featured here. The film was the first to be able to film on the yacht, which was actually built in the 50’s, and is captained by the Royal Crew.
  • Spill The Tea (Time) (4K, Dolby Vision, 2:23): Allen Leech and Laura Carmichael detail challenges filming the movie, favorite actors, and more. Played for humor, this is more of a comical feature than a serious one.


So, as a new Downton Abbey fan, A New Era is a great ending to an amazing series and first film.  I have no doubt that I will be diving headlong into the series now that I’ve seen the two gorgeous, entertaining, and endearing films.  With exceptional everything, from 4K presentation to interesting and fun storytelling, Downton Abbey: A New Era gets my highest recommendation. My biggest thoughts on this film are that it’s not only great to look at, but something about a film like this feels comforting and joyous.  There is a cozy feeling in every frame, and seeing these actors, who for years worked together and obviously still enjoy doing so.  I enjoyed every minute of this film, and as a feast for the eyes, ears and the softer side of movie fans, this is one not to miss.

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