Director – Richard Kelly (The Box, Southland Tales)
Starring – Jake Gyllenhaal (Spider-Man: Far From Home, Zodiac), Jena Malone (The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, The Neon Demon), and Mary McDonnell (Scream 4, Battlestar Galactica)
Release Date – 2001
Rating – 2/5
UHD Release – 4.5/5
The year after I graduated high school I was with some friends and we took a trip to a mall that was a couple hours away from us. The mall had an FYE in there and I spent most of out trip digging through the movies. I left out of there with a pretty solid stack of movies. Most were horror but I did snag a few random 80s comedies and action flicks. Among the movies I grabbed was the 2001 horror sci-fi flick Donnie Darko.
I had not heard about this one before but it looked wild. I remember watching it with my friends but I don’t remember shit about the movie. A few days ago MVD and Arrow Video sent over the new Donnie Darko uhd release for me to review. This was a great time to revisit the film since I couldn’t remember a damn thing about it. I want to thank MVD and Arrow for sending this one over!
**Spoiler Alert** The film follows Donnie Darko (Gyllenhaal) doesn’t fit in. He struggles to find acceptance within his school and family and is forced to seek therapy several times a week. He has a knack for creating imaginary friends but his newest, Frank, is a time travelling bunny that brings him to the middle of the apocalypse unless he can stop it. **Spoiler Alert**
I know a lot of genre fans love Donnie Darko. I’ve met many at cons that sport hoodies, patches, and even tattoos of the iconic rabbit. With that being said, I was not impressed with the film after my second viewing. I can’t remember what I thought of the film the first time around but this second viewing was way too long and such a dry experience. I can see the appeal of the film to some but it was not one that I enjoyed.
The acting in this one is pretty good. We get amazing performances from a young Jena Malone, Seth Rogan, Drew Barrymore, and Patrick Swayze, and so many more. This cast is really noteworthy. They all deliver amazing performances and not a single weak link among them. With that being said, I didn’t care for Jake Gyllenhaal. His performance just came across as dull when compared with the rest of the cast. His real life sister Maggie even out stages him in their shared scenes.
The story for this one tries way too hard to achieve something that could have been done in half the time. I do like how the time travel story goes around and forms a complete circle while tiring up loose ends. I also like the aspect of the old woman going mad from having all this information. The movie should have focused more on this and Donnie’s “imaginary” friend instead of all the time spent on painting him unstable. The movie is way too long and a lot of the movie could be removed because so many scenes are repetitive and unnecessary.
Finally, there is a little make-up effects but if you are looking to Donnie Darko for blood and gore then you will be really disappointed. There is some visual effects but they did not age well and are very laughable now. Overall, Donnie Darko was not one I could really get into. I can see why some like it but it’s not for me. However, this UHD release looks absolutely fantastic. I’m jealous that I’m not a fan of this one and can enjoy it like others can.
New 4K restorations of both the Theatrical Cut and the Director’s Cut from the original camera negatives by Arrow Films, supervised and approved by director Richard Kelly and cinematographer Steven Poster
4K (2160p) UHD Blu-ray presentations of both cuts in Dolby Vision (HDR10 compatible)
Original DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 audio
Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
100-page hardcover book featuring writing by Nathan Rabin, Anton Bitel and Jamie Graham, an in-depth interview with Richard Kelly, an introduction by Jake Gyllenhaal and contemporary coverage, illustrated with original stills and promotional materials
Double-sided fold-out poster featuring newly commissioned artwork by Luke Preece
Six double-sided collector’s postcards
Limited Edition packaging with reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Luke Preece
DISC 1 – THE THEATRICAL CUT [4K UHD BLU-RAY]
Audio commentary by writer-director Richard Kelly and actor Jake Gyllenhaal
Audio commentary by Kelly, producer Sean McKittrick and actors Drew Barrymore, Jena Malone, Beth Grant, Mary McDonnell, Holmes Osborne, Katharine Ross and James Duval
Deus ex Machina: The Philosophy of Donnie Darko, a documentary by Ballyhoo Motion Pictures on the making of Donnie Darko
The Goodbye Place, Kelly’s 1996 short film, which anticipates some of the themes and ideas of his feature films
20 deleted and alternate scenes with optional commentary by Kelly
DISC 2 – THE DIRECTOR’S CUT [4K UHD BLU-RAY]
Audio commentary by Kelly and filmmaker Kevin Smith
The Donnie Darko Production Diary, an archival documentary charting the film’s production, with optional commentary by cinematographer Steven Poster
Archive interviews with Kelly, actors Jake Gyllenhaal, Jena Malone, Drew Barrymore, James Duval, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Holmes Osborne, Noah Wyle and Katharine Ross, producers Sean McKittrick, Nancy Juvonen, Hunt Lowry and Casey La Scala, and Steven Poster
Three archive featurettes: They Made Me Do It, They Made Me Do It Too and #1 Fan: A Darkomentary
Cunning Visions infomercials
Music video: Mad World by Gary Jules
Director’s Cut trailer