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Donnie Darko (Blu-ray)

Donnie Darko on Blu-ray and  DVD Reviewed by Uncle Creepy

Starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Jena Malone, Mary McDonnell, Mark Anderson, Merribelle Anderson

Directed by Richard Kelly

Distributed by Fox Home Entertainment


For a film to become a cult favorite, there has to be something very special about it. Something that sets it up above the pack. Richard Kelly’s 2001 movie Donnie Darko is one of those flicks that feels as if you’re witness to something that transcends normal viewing habits as you watch it, and rightly so.

I can’t imagine anyone not being privy to the plot by now, but just in case we’ll do a quick recap before moving on to the meat of this new Blu-ray edition.

In a nutshell … After barely escaping a freak accident which leaves a part of a plane laying in his house, a troubled teenager named Donnie Darko (Gyllenhaal) is plagued by visions of a large bunny rabbit who manipulates him into committing a series of crimes. Make sense? Well, not really, but the non-linear, illogical, void of any rational reason approach is part of what makes this film work so very well.

After its release in 2001 fans of Donnie Darko have spent hours upon hours going over every detail ad nauseam trying to successfully piece the whole story together. Then in 2005 to further complicate things, Kelly released a director’s cut that ran twenty minutes longer than its theatrical cousin. Holy cow! Back to square one! Both cuts are included in this Blu-ray package along with a host of extras.

Donnie Darko on Blu-ray and  DVD Before touching upon the bonus material, let’s talk sound and picture. Honestly? This film doesn’t really benefit from the 1080p treatment as much as you’d think it would. Don’t get me wrong; it still looks better than the DVD did, but things are in no way as sharp looking as I expected, except maybe during close-ups. Hues are a bit warmer, and there’s film grain aplenty, but color me unimpressed. To further confound things, even though it’s sporting a new DTS-Master 5.1 sound mix for both cuts, I still cannot say the mix, though slightly crisper, is much better than the ones found on the DVD. Maybe the not-so-knock-your-socks-off approach is all part of the film’s enigma?

*shakes head*

In terms of extras, even though they’re plentiful, again, get ready to be underwhelmed. Disc One of this two-disc set is home to both cuts of the film and three commentary tracks — two for the theatrical version and one featuring Kelly and Kevin Smith for the director’s cut. Darko fans, these commentaries are where you will find the vast majority of the info that you seek. All are great and well worth a listen. Disc Two is basically a direct port of the supplemental material from the two-disc Director’s Cut DVD package of 2005. These features are listed below and, while they’re cool in and of themselves, represent nothing more than things we have already seen. We get nothing new, and other than Disc One being enhanced for D-Box Motion Control Systems, we get nothing exclusive.

Is there a reason to double-dip if you already have the DVD(s)? That depends on how big of a Donnie Darko fan you are. Yes, this is the best looking and sounding edition for what its worth, and yes, it’s nice to have both cuts in one package, but can I recommend this package? Yes, but only for the most hardcore of fans.

Special Features:

  • Enhanced for D-Box Motion Control Systems (Blu-ray only)
  • Theatrical and director’s cut of the film
  • Theatrical cut commentary with writer/director Richard Kelly and Jake Gyllenhaal
  • Theatrical cut commentary with cast and crew
  • Directors cut commentary with writer/director Richard Kelly and director Kevin Smith
  • Donnie Darko Production Diary (with optional commentary by director of photography Steven Poster) featurette
  • They Made Me Do It Too – The Cult of Donnie Darko featurette
  • Storyboard-to-Screen featurette
  • #1 Fan: A Darkomentary featurette
  • Trailers

    Film:

    4 1/2 out of 5

    Special Features:

    4 out of 5

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  • Steve Barton

    You're such an inspiration for the ways that I will never, ever choose to be.