Donnie Darko (2005) - The Director's Cut

Genre(s): Drama / Mystery / Science Fiction
Fox || R - 133 minutes - $19.98 || February 15, 2005
Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2005-02-21


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

A U D I O &
.:: V I D E O ::.

Audio and Video

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: Richard Kelly
Writer(s): Richard Kelly (written by)
Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Jena Malone, Drew Barrymore, Mary McDonnell, Holmes Osborne, Katharine Ross, Patrick Swayze, Noah Wyle, Maggie Gyllenhaal, James Duval


Theatrical Release Date: July 23, 2004


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:

    Disc 1:
  • Writer/Director & Guest Commentary


  • Disc 2:
  • Donnie Darko Production Diary
  • "They Made Me Do It Too" - The Cult of Donnie Darko
  • Storyboard-to-Screen Featurette
  • #1 Fan: Darkomentary
  • Director's Cut Theatrical Trailer


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Widescreen (2.35)
  • English (Dolby Digital 5.1), English (Dolby Digital 2.0)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish

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.::THE FILM::.

IMAGE

Donnie Darko lives up to the hype in certain ways but as a first time viewer, I found myself lost during certain scenes. Since watching this director's cut, I have learned that maybe a Darko novice might've been better off watching the theatrical version. At any rate, I found the film to be very interesting with a fascinating and unique concept. I also appreciated that this wasn't some fly by night movie, instead there was an actual message... a message that cannot be described and, to be honest, may be different for different people. I will more than likely rent the original version (with a DVD review of that to come) and see if the film is tighter since this one wasn't all that it could've been. That said, Donnie Darko is a movie I suggest watching to see for yourself, but be warned that if you don't like the 'out-there' films, this may not be your cup of tea.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

This director's cut DVD has a little more features that any fan of the film would want. As someone who has neither seen the theatrical film nor the features on its initial release, it seems the original DVD has some good features so consider this set discs two and three of a set.

Commentary by writer/director Richard Kelly and director Kevin Smith: Writer/director Kelly brought friend and fellow director Smith in to fill in the voids that may come about (as Kelly has already done two commentary tracks for the initial DVD release). Ironically, though, the voids were still there but the conversation that does take place it quite interesting and any film buff/fan would enjoy listening to this. The two directors chat about the in-depth aspects which is refreshing that rather than talking about the actors, they instead talked about the plot and such. Toward the end, Smith read off a few questions posed by Darko fans he got from his own web site. This is a good commentary with some light-hearted chat at times but also classic Kevin Smith lingo.

Donnie Darko Production Diary with Option Commentary: This is a 50 minute behind-the-scenes video diary with an optional commentary track by the director of photography. After 30 minutes of this, it did become a bit boring but it does provide a good look at how the movie was made and avoids the staged interviews and such.

They Made Me Do It Too - The Cult of Donnie Darko: A featurette that includes interviews with Kelly and (mostly) the cult fans of the film. Some of the people were just regular Joes while others were film critics, artists and magazine editors. This is a basic chronicle about why people (mainly from England) loved the film so much and why it took longer to catch on here in America. Also included are people's opinions to what the film is actually about. It's nice to see the passion but I still don't see it myself. It's definately more than a movie, but it's going to take time for me. The one thing I certainly do agree with this bunch is the music is brilliant (in fact I bought the CD that was only released in the UK).

Storyboard to Screen: Feature that shows four scenes from the movie with the film playing below and the storyboard above. Not the most interesting of things to watch, but I guess for those who are fascinated with the process may find this worthwhile.

#1 Fan: Darkomentary: "In the summer of 2004, DonnieDarko.com held a documentary competition to find the #1 Donnie Darko fan. The winning film would be added as an extra feature on the release of the Director's Cut DVD." This featurette has Donnie Darko Fan #1 showing us his life and the several (and I do mean SEVERAL) copies of the Donnie Darko DVD he owns! This fellow sings in the car and has a jet engine mobile hanging over his bed. He goes over why he loves the film so much (reason number one was that he's just like Donnie Darko). This fan could give some Star Wars people a run for their money (considering there's not as much merchandise for Donnie Darko). For someone like me, this was creepy. Even creepier, he tracks down the guy who played Frank (James Duval).

Also included is the director's cut theatrical trailer.



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

IMAGE

This is a disc that would've benefited from a DTS track (as a majority of releases probably do). That said, the movie sounded decent enough and the widescreen picture looks fairly pristine. Not the best transfer I've seen, but still very, very good.



.::OVERALL::.

Donnie Darko is certainly a film that cannot be forgotten but I'm still not sure what I actually saw. Is it a profound movie deserving of its cult status? Absolutely. Is it the greatest f-ing film ever made? Absolutely... not. Though I can appreciate the message director Kelly was trying to convey and the amount of conversation the movie can bring, I just cannot say it's an excellent film (IMO). I can, however, see why it does have such a following after only three years.