Downton Abbey reviews roundup: What critics are saying about the film starring Michelle Dockery and Hugh Bonneville

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Jim Carter as Mr Carson in a scene from Downton Abbey: AP
Jim Carter as Mr Carson in a scene from Downton Abbey: AP

The first wave of reviews for the Downton Abbey film have arrived, and they're rather negative.

The movie, which was written and co-produced by original series creator Julian Fellowes, stars Michelle Dockery, Hugh Bonneville, Dame Maggie Smith, Jim Carter and Elizabeth McGovern.

It follows the aristocratic Crawley family in 1927 as they prepare for a royal visit to Downton Abbey by King George V and Queen Mary.

Reviewing for The Independent, Clarisse Loughrey criticised the film's lack of substance and said it relies mostly on nostalgia, giving it two stars.

"It's a rather uneventful affair, considering Downton Abbey is well-known for its forbidden romances, ghastly tragedies, and unearthed secrets," she wrote. "It's far too concerned with doling out as many wish-fulfilment plotlines as possible.

"There are a handful of sudden outbursts of conflict, but they're quickly solved and easily forgotten. Even the romantic moments feel curiously abrupt. Read the full review here.

In a three-star review for The Telegraph, Tim Robey wrote: "Upscaling the cosy charms of the series hasn't entirely worked, in that you wouldn't say this comfortably belongs in a cinema at any stage. Watching it is like settling into a reupholstered armchair which still creaks in the same old places."

The Guardian's Peter Bradshaw also gave the film three out of five, commenting: "The plots are rickety and the characterisation has the depth of a Franklin Mint plate". However, he said the film overall was "quite enjoyable".

Another three-star review, this time by the BBC, the movie was described as "delightful fun" by Caryn James, despite the plot being "obvious almost to the point of stupidity".

Variety also said the plot was "so slight that even several characters seem not to notice it's happening".

The Hollywood Reporter said Downton is "satisfyingly sumptuous" and its reviewer praised Dame Maggie's performance in particular, saying she was given "a chance to pull some of her most beloved haughty expressions of indignation and bemusement".

A more scathing review came from the New York Post's Johnny Oleksinki, who gave the film one and a half stars, saying it was "forced and unnecessary".

Helen O'Hara's review for Empire gave the film another three stars, praising the "delightfully acerbic snark" in the dialogue, but criticising the "low stakes" of the plot.

In a rare four-star review, The Times said the film is "utterly, ineffably, and often fabulously, Downton".

Downton Abbey is released in UK cinemas on 13 September.

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