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Downton Abbey

‘Downton Abbey’, a very popular historical TV drama, ran for six series. A modern day version of ‘The Forsyth Saga’ and ‘Upstairs Downstairs’, the show entranced viewers with its stylish dramatics and gorgeous locations. It helped having a stellar cast who made the most of creator Julian Fellowes’ scripts. Popularity breeds spin-offs with this movie version gracing the big screen with the same panache it showed on smaller ones.

It is 1927 and Downton Abbey is awash with excitement. The Earl and Countess of Grantham (Hugh Bonneville and Elizabeth McGovern) are hosting a royal visit. King George V and Queen Mary grace their halls much to the astonishment of the servants. With the ever arch Dowager Countess Violet (Maggie Smith) looking on, proceedings take a myriad of unexpected turns amongst the Abbey’s esteemed walls.

Michael Engler directs ‘Downton Abbey’ with the same flair afforded its’ television counterpart. Fans should enjoy this return journey amongst the Abbey’s hallowed halls with an abundance of unexpected twists. Casual viewers may be a little lost as it relies on its devoted fanbase for appeal. ‘Downton Abbey’ provides a very entertaining few hours with a solidly written and a well paced script captivating until the end.

The high quality cast slip into their roles with ease. It’s great seeing veterans such as Maggie Smith spout the rich dialogue with aplomb. The locations are superbly photographed, effortlessly matching the standards previously set. All these elements highlight the production’s quest in crafting a top-tier movie succeeding on several levels.

‘Downton Abbey’ is worth checking out if only for the scenery. A good example of how to successfully transfer a TV series to cinema, it is easy viewing. It will be interesting if more films eventuate with ‘Downton Abbey’s’ allure sure to be heightened with this confident big screen outing.

Rating out of 10: 8

IT: Chapter 2

Back in the 1980’s, several films derived from the works of horror writer Stephen King conjured their own brand of terror. Poorly written, acted and directed several King adaptations have gone down into infamy. Due to technology finally reaching his imagination, recent works have been much better. ‘IT: Chapter 2’ is a fair addition. Following on from 2017’s ‘IT’, this outing does its best to restore King’s horrific reputation.

Twenty-seven years after his apparent demise, Pennywise the Clown (Bill Skarsgard) returns for more carnage. Now adults, Bill (James McAvoy), Beverly (Jessica Chastain) and Ben (Jay Ryan), the Losers Club who defeated him last time, must once again face their fears. Among them are). Spooky vengeance is on Pennywise’s agenda with his prey needing all their strength to defeat him once and for all.

Directed by Andy Muschietti, ‘IT: Chapter 2’ promises much but delivers little. On the plus ledger is Skarsgard’s performance as Pennywise. A memorable villain in the style of Freddy Kruger from the ‘Nightmare in Elm Street’ films, the movie lights up whenever he appears. Unfortunately it isn’t as much as hoped with the story instead generally concentrating on the adult Losers Club, who are an unmemorable and dreary lot.

‘IT: Chapter 2’ repeats much of what happened previously. There’s a definite ‘seen it all before’ vibe, which the near three hour run-time highlights. There are flashes of inspired mayhem however with Muschietti showing flair in several large set-pieces. ‘IT: Chapter 2’s biggest problem is that it isn’t that scary, with the gargantuan length provoking more fear than what’s on screen.

Far better than some appalling shockers of the ‘80’s, ‘IT: Chapter 2’ doesn’t disgrace the King canon. It isn’t brilliant either as it occasionally threatens to turn into a lesson in horrific boredom. But those wanting to see vague thrills amongst personal trauma should enjoy a film that doesn’t do the clown industry any favours.

Rating out of 10: 6