Fulvue Drive-In.com
Current Reviews
In Stores Soon
In Stores Now
DVD Reviews, SACD Reviews Essays Interviews Contact Us Meet the Staff
An Explanation of Our Rating System Search  
Category:    Home > Reviews > Science Fiction > Horror > Drama > Comedy > Teens > Supernatural > Existentialism > Donnie Darko (2001/Fox/Arrow 4-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Limited Edition Box Set)

Donnie Darko (2001/Fox/Arrow 4-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Limited Edition Box Set)

Picture: B+/B- Sound: B+/B- Extras: A- Film: B+ (Theatrical), B (Director's Cut)

This is hands down, the most impressive release I've seen so far this year on the Blu-ray format. Arrow pulls all the stops with their brand new restoration of the cult hit Donnie Darko (2001) - the astonishing debut feature film from Writer/Director Richard Kelly (who didn't hit the mark with later features The Box and the critical and financial disaster Southland Tales).

For fans of Donnie Darko, this truly is as good as it gets, as Arrow features tons of great extras, cool inserts, a hard bound book about the production, and a transfer that vastly improves upon previous releases. If for some reason you haven't seen this film yet, then shame on you! And if you have and haven't seen it for a while, it's well worth revisiting and only gets better with age.

Donnie Darko features an all star cast and the breakout performance of actor Jake Gyllenhaal. It co-stars the gorgeous Jena Malone (Neon Demon, Sucker Punch), Maggie Gyllenhaal (Secretary), Drew Barrymore (who also produced this film and helped it get made), Mary McDonnell (Independence Day), Beth Grant (Jackie), a bit part by Seth Rogen (way before he was a star) and the late, great Patrick Swayze in one of his final roles. These are just a few of the familiar faces you will see in the film, along with its many surprises.

During the presidential election of 1988, a troubled teenager named Donnie Darko (Gyllenhaal) is having problems fitting in and getting along with his family. Heavily medicated, one night Donnie sleepwalks out of his house one night, and sees a giant man in a demonic-looking rabbit suit, who goes by the name of Frank, who tells Donnie the world will end in 28 days, 6 hours, 42 minutes, and 12 seconds! He returns home the next morning to find that a jet engine has crashed through his bedroom. As he tries to figure out why he survived and tries to deal with a cast of colorful characters including the school bully, his conservative health teacher, and a self-help guru, Frank continues to turn up in Donnie's mind, causing him to commit acts of vandalism that bring shocking and dangerous revelations to light as the world gets closer and closer to ending.

This set features both the Theatrical and Director's Cut of the film, both of which have been remastered in 1080p high definition with a widescreen aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and an English DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 (48kHz, 24-bit) track that give the film a whole new life. I've always been a big fan of the soundtrack that features many great songs by Echo and the Bunnymen, Tears for Fears, Gary Jules impressive remake of another Tears For Fears classic and others. This replaces all previous versions of the film on home video for playback performance.

Also included are the standard definition DVD versions of both cuts that have an anamorphic widescreen aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and a lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 track that look and sound up to standard, but still look slightly better than than they did on DVD upon original release.

The Director's Cut is a little longer and has some things spelled out a bit more clearly than they are in the theatrical version, and it actually got a brief theatrical release itself. Some songs are also changed and new scenes added. This is probably one of the only films of which I actually prefer the Theatrical cut more, as it is cut a bit better and leaves more things up to interpretation.

Special Features include:

Audio commentary by writer-director Richard Kelly and actor Jake Gyllenhaal on the Theatrical Cut

Great vintage 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

and a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Candice Tripp

That's pretty much all the extras and then some we've seen in the may regular and special editions we've covered of the film over the years, which you can read more about starting with this 10th Anniversary Blu-ray set that includes inks to other versions...


A true cult classic with a fantastic cast and an original story, Richard Kelly's Donnie Darko is truly a one of a kind cinematic experience. Part drama, part science fiction, and even at times horror, it's nice to see it finally getting the super-deluxe release that it deserves. As for its lackluster and forgettable sequel, S. Darko, well... that's another story.

- James Lockhart



 Copyright © MMIII through MMX fulvuedrive-in.com