Donnie Darko (2001) (Remastered Limited Edition) (Blu-ray/DVD Review)

Donnie Darko (2001) (Remastered Limited Edition) (Blu-ray/DVD Review)
Directed By: Richard Kelly
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Jena Malone, Mary McDonnell
Rated: R/Region A/2:35/1080p/Number of Discs 4
Available from Arrow Video

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 Katharine Ross, and ER star 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.

Donnie Darko packs a plot, but it’s a very complicated plot that most people who watch it won’t understand it. Heck, people who love the film aren’t sure what it exactly is. You could probably write a book, take a class, and talk to the director, and still not have a full grasp on what the hell is going on. We know Donnie is seeing a giant rabbit named Frank, who is telling him the world is ending. We know Donnie is almost crushed by an engine early in the film that Frank helped him to avoid. So Frank is using Donnie and helping Donnie in a way. That’s the easy part of it. The “how” and “why” is when you open a can of worms. But even if you don’t fully “get” it, you still love this movie. And more or less I think you love it because Donnie connects with you. And what is it about the character of Donnie that connects with so many people? Maybe it’s the general idea the movie gives us that every living thing dies alone? Does it connect to our feelings about death and how scary the idea can be? Does its tapping into Donnie’s emotional problems and feelings of being different just hit a switch with so many viewers who also feel the same thing? Either way you look at it, it’s an emotional and dark film, but a great film. It also mixes in some humor and uses music in an outstanding way to drive different points of the film home at different times. No matter if Donnie is finally making a connection to a female counter part, sleep walking, or flooding a school, you will cheer Donnie on. You will connect with him and you will enjoy watching his journey, even if it all doesn’t make the most sense.

The set here comes with both versions of the film in a brand new 4K scan. The first time I ever saw this movie it was the longer director’s cut. It’s long, but I did fall in love with the film anyway. And now after having seen the theatrical version, I think I may like it slightly better overall. It’s shorter, doesn’t drag, and doesn’t try to make everything make the most sense. I love movies that don’t always paint the film out by numbers. I love the look of the film and the vibe. It’s a film from 2001 that is set in the 80’s and at times the movie does look like an 80s film. I also love the emotion of the film and it’s performances from the actors. If I was to make a list of my favorite films, this would be on the list without question. No matter if it’s the original theatrical cut, or the much longer director’s cut, this movie is awesome anyway you look at it. So the movie to me is a 10 without question. Now the old Blu-ray isn’t the most detailed HD transfer I had ever seen, but Arrow’s new transfer improves upon all of that greatly. The movie was made in low light and that was an issue in the old transfer but this time it seems to have found the right balance in this Arrow release. It comes with both cuts here on their own discs and it comes with tons of extras. It also comes with an awesome package. I think that makes for a great deal for a even greater movie.

Extras

– 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) and Standard Definition DVD presentations of both cuts
– Original 5.1 audio (DTS-HD on the Blu-ray)
– 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
– Deus ex Machina: The Philosophy of Donnie Darko, a brand-new documentary by Ballyhoo Motion Pictures on the making of Donnie Darko, containing interviews with writer-director Richard Kelly, producer Sean McKittrick, director of photography Steven Poster, editor Sam Bauer, composer Michael Edwards, costume designer April Ferry, actor James Duval and critic Rob Galluzzo
– 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
– Galleries
– Trailers
– TV spots
– Exclusive collector’s book containing new writing by Nathan Rabin, Anton Bitel and Jamie Graham, an in-depth interview with Richard Kelly, introduction by Jake Gyllenhaal and contemporary coverage, illustrated with original stills and promotional materials
– Limited edition packaging featuring new artwork by Candice Tripp

Quality of Transfer: 100%

 

 

 

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