Donnie is a troubled high school student: in therapy, prone to sleepwalking and in possession of an imaginary friend, a six-foot rabbit named Frank, who tells him the world is going to end in 28 days 06 hours 42 minutes and 12 seconds. During that time he will navigate teenage life, narrowly avoid death in the form of a falling jet engine, follow Frank’s maladjusted instructions and try to maintain the space-time continuum.
Described by its director as “The Catcher in the Rye as told by Philip K. Dick”, Donnie Darko combines an eye-catching, eclectic cast – pre-stardom Jake and Maggie Gyllenhaal, heartthrob Patrick Swayze, former child star Drew Barrymore, Oscar nominees Mary McDonnell and Katherine Ross, and television favourite Noah Wyle – and an evocative soundtrack of 80s classics by Echo and the Bunnymen, Tears for Fears and Duran Duran. This brand-new 4K restoration, carried out exclusively for this release by Arrow Films, allows a modern classic to finally receive the home video treatment it deserves.
What We Thought:
I had seen Donnie Darko once. I think it was around 2003 when Netflix first came about and you got the DVDs in the mail. I remember not liking it at all despite all the buzz and praise it had at the time. It’s one of those movies people who like the film tell those who don’t like the film that they just didn’t “get it”. Oh I got it, I just didn’t like it.
But since my only viewing the film has grown a huge cult following. Jake Gyllenhaal has become a popular American actor. His sister Maggie as well. Director Richard Kelly made follow-up flicks, but never hit big like they expected after the hype surrounding this. He’s barely done anything in the past decade.
So I decided to give the film a try again almost 15 years later with this new box set. Is it as bad as I remember? No, but I still can’t say I like it. I noticed some things I did like about it this time around though. I did like Kelly’s style and use of music. He gives the film a good aesthetic. It’s a throwback/homage to a time that means something to him. The music and setting firmly puts you in the 1980’s. In my first viewing I might not have known who Seth Rogen was at the time. I put in the new box set and was like “Wow, Seth Rogen was in this”.
My biggest issue with the film is the story, it always was. I understand that Donnie was an outcast. He had issues and didn’t fit in. Jena Malone’s new girl character liked him for being different. I think the time travel part bothered me. I’ve always been fascinated with time travel and movies that get it wrong irritate me. People who defend the movie probably like the style and the Donnie character and can’t explain the plot accurately. Donnie is a classic outcast character, but the mixing in of the science fiction is what doesn’t work for me. It didn’t the first time, it didn’t the second.
This new Donnie Darko collection is pretty impressive. If you are a fan you’ll love all the new features and the upgrade to 4K. The film definitely has its fans and asst. editor Rocky Maxwell likes the movie way more than I do. If you like the film, check out the new restored version.
– Brand new 4K restorations of both the Theatrical Cut and the Director’s Cut from the original camera negatives produced by Arrow Films exclusively for this release, supervised and approved by director Richard Kelly and cinematographer Steven Poster
– High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentations of both cuts
– Original 5.1 audio
– Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
– Audio commentary by writer-director Richard Kelly and actor Jake Gyllenhaal on the Theatrical Cut
– Audio commentary by Kelly, producer Sean McKittrick and actors Drew Barrymore, Jena Malone, Beth Grant, Mary McDonnell, Holmes Osborne, Katharine Ross and James Duval on the Theatrical Cut
– Audio commentary by Kelly and filmmaker Kevin Smith on the Director’s Cut
– Brand-new interviews with Richard Kelly and others
– The Goodbye Place, Kelly’s 1996 short film, which anticipates some of the themes and ideas of his feature films
– The Donnie Darko Production Diary, an archival documentary charting the film’s production with optional commentary by cinematographer Steven Poster
– Twenty deleted and alternate scenes with optional commentary by Kelly
– 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 cinematographer Steven Poster
– Three archive featurettes: They Made Me Do It, They Made Me Do It Too and #1 Fan: A Darkomentary
– Storyboard comparisons
– B-roll footage
– Cunning Visions infomercials
– Music Video: Mad World by Gary Jules
– TV spots
– Illustrated collector’s booklet containing new writing by Nathan Rabin
– Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Candice Tripp