Tags: Alex Greenwald, Arthur Taxier, Ashley Tisdale, Beth Grant, D-BOX, David Moreland, David St. James, Digital Copy, Donnie Darko, Drew Barrymore, FOX, Gary Lundy, Jake Gyllenhaal, James Duval, Jazzie Mahannah, Jena Malone, Jolene Purdy, Katharine Ross, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Mary McDonnell, Michael Andrews, Newmarket Films, Noah Wyle, Patience Cleveland, Patrick Swayze, Richard Kelly, Seth Rogen, Stuart Stone
has an average rating of 8.2 on IMDb
1080p in AVC MPEG-4 on a 50gb disc
DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio
commentaries, DVDs & Digital Copy
– 113 minutes & 134 minutes (Director’s Cut)
This uses 18.3GB & 23.2GB (Director’s Cut) out of 42.6GB total.
Street Date: July 26th, 2011
Overall Verdict – Double-Dip Strictly for Fans
— Review written by: Justin Sluss —
The Movie Itself is now celebrating its 10th anniversary, originally released back in 2001. The film was both written & directed by Richard Kelly who would later go on to direct the films “Southland Tales” in 2006 and “The Box” in 2009 plus he also wrote the screenplay/story for the Tony Scott directed film “Domino” from 2005.
Set in October of 1988, the story here focuses on a teenage boy by the name of “Donnie Darko” (played by Jake Gyllenhaal) who lives in a Virginian suburb with his parents and two sisters. We are introduced to our main character in the opening scene as we see him laying asleep in the road wearing his pajamas of sorts. It’s clear that Donnie is a troubled young man and has sleep-walked here. As the title credits role we see as Donnie wakes and returns home riding his bicycle. We’re soon introduced to his family as they have dinner. Donnie’s family consists of his father “Eddie” (played by Holmes Osborne), mother “Rose” (played by Mary McDonnell), older sister “Elizabeth” (played by Maggie Gyllenhaal) and younger sister “Samantha” (played by Daveigh Chase).
Later on after that dinner scene we see what Donnie’s life is like at school and are introduced to some of his friends at the bus stop. Donnie’s two guy friends his age are your typical teenagers wanting to smoke cigarettes just to look cool, dish out stupid jokes and talk about sex like they’ve actually gotten laid before. Donnie is very different from his friends and from his classmates especially. Yes, Donnie does suffer it seems from some psychological issues but he also is being used as a vessel of sorts to carry out some things planned. After we see the scenes mentioned above we are seeing the older Darko sister return home when all of the sudden a jet engine comes crashing through the house, landing on Donnie’s room. Luckily, Donnie was not home when this happened, as he was sleepwalking (of sorts) but this time he was being led by this man in a weird grey bunny costume. This bunny led Donnie out of the house so that he wasn’t killed. Donnie’s parents attribute it to “someone was watching him” in the sense of a guardian angel or such.
Little do his parents know that Donnie is being told to do things by the guy in the bunny costume. Eventually the guy in the bunny costume convinces Donnie to vandalize his local school one night with an axe. This is just the beginning of what this weird grey bunny by the name of “Frank” tells our lead character to do. While most viewers in their initial viewing may attribute this guy in the bunny costume as someone Donnie has imagined, he turns out to be a lot more than that. I can only tell you that much without dealing out spoilers. As all this is happening Donnie has also met a new girl at school by the name of “Gretchen Ross” (played by Jena Malone) and started “going with” (dating) her. Donnie is strange and Gretchen knows this, as she tells him that early on, but she’s fine with it. It seems that our “anti-hero” has actually found someone here and might have a chance at a relationship. That’s where the real predicament eventually arises; again that’s all I can say, without dealing out spoilers.
“Donnie Darko” went on to undoubtedly become a cult-classic and was definitely one of the films that launched the acting careers of real-life brother & sister Jake Gyllenhaal and Maggie Gyllenhaal. This film also had a great supporting cast with folks like Drew Barrymore, Beth Grant, Katharine Ross, Noah Wyle, the late Patrick Swayze as well as a young Seth Rogen and even younger Ashley Tisdale. Definitely some great performances here. Richard Kelly went on to do the films discussed above and his current project is “Corpus Christi” set for release in 2012.
Regarding “Donnie Darko” and what it went on to inspire, I’ll end by saying this. Yes, a sequel was made, which will go un-named here as I do not acknowledge it. I’ll also state that you can go see for yourself HERE that Richard Kelly DID NOT APPROVE of that sequel being made, WAS NOT INVOLVED with it in any way what-so-ever and is in fact still a tad bit upset about it to this date. Can’t say I blame him. Just do him a favor, as well as yourself a favor, and avoid that sequel. This film is all you’ll need so don’t go ruining it by watching some crap someone with zero talent made up to make some “cash-in” on Kelly’s original brilliant film.
Video Quality on this release is in full 1080p using the AVC MPEG-4 codec on a BD-50 (50 gigabyte dual-layered Blu-ray Disc) in the 2.35:1 aspect ratio. According to IMDb‘s technical specifications listing this was shot on 35MM film using Panavision Panaflex Millennium & Panavision Primo cameras and lenses. To be a film now celebrating its 10th anniversary, you WOULD have expected that FOX would have tried to get a new Hi-Def remaster of this made. Especially considering how negative the reviews were for the previous Blu-ray release of the film; which this essentially IS, just repackaged. Sadly, due to some issues with a contract held by Newmarket Films on the actual film print, a remaster wasn’t going to happen for that reason.
How you ask do I know all of this? Well, as of just recent, I was told by the writer/director Richard Kelly himself that he wasn’t even aware of this release until a month ago (see HERE). I’d like to totally thank Mr. Kelly for taking the time to chat with me in a little bit of “back and forth” here about the release. HERE you’ll find a full screenshot showing the transcript (of sorts) of the chat the writer/director and I had regarding this release on social networking site Twitter.
As you can tell, Kelly isn’t too happy with the fact he didn’t even know that this title was being released until just recently and especially had no clue that it was going to be heavily marketed at this year’s Comic-Con — at that time currently going on. He explained to me why we wouldn’t ever be seeing anytime soon a new Hi-Def transfer (remaster) approved by him or one period. This doesn’t seem to make him too happy but at the very same time he reminded me the important point that it IS bringing a new audience of viewers to his film; now 10 years in age. Still, this site focuses on heavily critiquing the video quality and that cannot be ignored here, considering it IS as mentioned earlier THE EXACT SAME DISC previously released on Blu-ray Disc, just repackaged (bundled) with DVD versions and a Digital Copy. This doesn’t merit any better score for video for that, it has all the same problems it had two years ago when it was released. Now I’ll begin discuss, even dissect (if you will) some of those problems with this Hi-Def video presentation.
Things seem cloudy here or almost “hazy” soft with a low amount of detail in most shots. Some close-ups like the one of the eyeball do hold some detail but it’s smoothed over by this haze. Also, the color palette is far, far from vibrant as it in fact almost feels dull in terms of color throughout the film. The fleshtones aren’t all too accurate as a result and the black level isn’t perfectly solid either. There’s definitely no use of DNR or EE here that I can tell, as the film grain, dirt and such on the print all remains intact, too intact in fact. The presentation just downright seems dirty and rough and not “cleaned up” in many ways at all.
This “so-called” Hi-Def presentation is really only a few small steps up in terms of detail from watching the original DVD upconverted. That’s just plain sad itself. Not to mention how they decided to put two versions of the film on the same disc and make them share space. If they wanted to make this a really awesome multiple disc set they would have put the films on separate discs and included all of the bonus materials (aside from commentaries) on a third disc. They did not decide to do even that, given they couldn’t get a new remaster of the film.
Sorry to be such a “downer” but I’m just disappointed here by this “recycled” release of this amazing film. This earns a weak “2.5 Star Rating” for overall video quality, just as it would have earned if I had received the original release years ago. Speaking of which, if you owned the previous Blu-ray release, avoid this, as you already technically own it. However, if you didn’t previously own it on Blu-ray, or especially if you didn’t own the previous DVD releases you’ll want to pick this up regardless of the video quality as it’s a slight improvement over the DVD and it’s only $16.99 which isn’t really too pricey. The standard version still sells for $10.99 though, so if you don’t need the extra bonus content, choose it.
Audio Quality on this release is presented in DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio. In both versions things start up with the background rumble of thunder that makes good use of the rear channels and most importantly the LFE (bass) with decent subwoofer action. Once the opening credits start up you’ll hear the original music of the Score done by Michael Andrews and eventually a song here (different on each version) get a very nice rear channel presence and LFE; making great use of a 5.1 lossless sound mix. Roughly 5 minutes or so in the dialogue starts up with such classic lines as “You’re such a fuck-ass” and “You can go suck a fuck” which are delivered, like the rest of the dialogue, distinctly throughout primarily the front center channel. No problems at all here with dialogue ever being “drowned out” by any of the music or action. Now regarding “action”, sound effects sound pretty lifelike especially when the jet engine comes crashing through the roof early on in the film. The sound of “Frank” talking to “Donnie” also is pretty intense and holds a good amount of LFE to it to get your attention (much like it does our leading character).
Back to the music, it’s very nice to see that the beautiful original music done by Michael Andrews here for the Score is done justice and also that the amazing choices for songs on the Soundtrack are done justice as well. In fact, the music and soundtrack on this film are one of the real things that stands out to most folks aside from the amazingly unique story. All the songs sound great here in this DTS-HD 5.1 MA mix, like “The Killing Moon” by Echo & the Bunnymen (on the theatrical cut), “Head Over Heels” by Tears For Fears and “Mad World” performed (covered) by Gary Jules and Michael Andrews. All and all, this is by far the strongest aspect of this Blu-ray Disc release of the film, the sound mix. Having said that, this earns a pretty impressive and solid “4 Star Rating” for overall audio quality. Given a new mix (2 years later from when this was done) with maybe help from the original sound crew COULD eventually produce a better sounding result but don’t hold your breath for that.
Bonus Materials are presented in Standard Definition (SD) video quality with Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo @192kbps sound.
DISC 1 (A Blu-ray) includes:
- Director’s Cut (2:13:51) of the film is included. It uses 23.2GB total.
- Theatrical Version (1:52:12) of the film is included. It uses 18.3GB total.
- Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Richard Kelly and Director Kevin Smith is ONLY available on the Director’s Cut of the film.
- Audio Commentary with Cast and Crew is ONLY available on the Theatrical Version of the film.
- Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Richard Kelly and Actor Jake Gyllenhaal is ONLY available on the Theatrical Version of the film.
- D-BOX motion code is included on this disc for those with the proper equipment to decode it.
DISC 2 (A DVD) includes the following bonus materials specific to The Director’s Cut of the film:
- “Production Diary” (52:54 – SD) with optional audio commentary by Director of Photography Steven Poster.
- “They Made Me Do It Too — The Cult of Donnie Darko Featurette” (28:05 – SD)
- “Storyboard-to-Screen Featurette” (7:58- SD)
- “#1 Fan: A Darkomentary” (13:18 – SD)
- “Director’s Cut Theatrical Trailer” (1:02 – SD)
DISC 3 (A DVD) includes the Theatrical Cut of the film in Standard Definition with Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround sound as well as the following bonus materials:
- “Deleted/Extended Scenes” feature optional audio commentary by Writer/Director Richard Kelly and consist of the following twenty scenes:
- “Married With Children” (0:20 – SD)
- “Telephone Conversation” (0:35 – SD)
- “Conversation With Frank” (2:29 – SD)
- “Holiday Inn” (3:34 – SD)
- “The Bus Stop” (1:17 – SD)
- “School’s Cancelled” (0:30 – SD)
- “Wizard’s Arcade” (1:08 – SD)
- “Poetry Day” (0:54 – SD)
- “Night On The Town” (0:58 – SD)
- “Losing Faith” (1:45 – SD)
- “Book Exchange” (1:01 – SD)
- “Pumpkin Carving” (2:15 – SD)
- “Sexual Fantasies” (3:05 – SD)
- “Return to Carpathian Ridge” (0:29 – SD)
- “Fatherly Advice” (2:06 – SD)
- “Watership Down” (3:46 – SD)
- “Airport Van” (1:07 – SD)
- “Cellar Door” (2:43 – SD)
- “Placebos” (1:15 – SD)
- “Impalement” (0:27 – SD)
- “Infomercials” (5:42 – SD) as seen in the film.
- “Infomercials with Commentary by CEO Linda Connie & Director Fabian Van Patten” (5:42 – SD)
- “His Name Is Frank” (SD) is a series of still images.
- “Book Covers (SD) is a series of still images.
- “Production Stills” (SD)
- “Concept Art” (SD)
DISC 4 (A DVD-ROM) contains a Digital Copy of the film in the Director’s Cut which is compatible with both Mac and PC as well as iTunes and Windows Media portable devices.
Overall, the bonus materials are pretty decent, you get ALL the DVD bonus content actually housed on the DVDs themselves. The Blu-ray which includes audio commentaries on both versions of the film, which itself is a bonus to be included as an option as well as a Digital Copy of the “Director’s Cut“, an added bonus, on a fourth DVD (technically DVD-ROM).
Blu-ray Disc packaging:
NOTE: The full-sized 1920×1080 files are in a .PNG file format and uncompressed. Please be patient with the slow loading times, keep in mind these files are at least 1MB (1 megabyte) in size each.