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Category:    Home > Reviews > Science Fiction > Fantasy > Horror > Sequel > S. Darko: A Donnie Darko Tale (Fox Blu-ray + DVD)

S. Darko: A Donnie Darko Tale (Fox Blu-ray + DVD)


Picture: B-     Sound: B/B-     Extras: C     Film: D



In 1984, a film called 2010: The Year We Make Contact arrived and attempted to be a viable so-called sequel to the masterwork of Stanley Kubrick’s visionary 2001: A Space Odyssey.  The result is not only one of the worst attempt at a sequel, but it also tries to explain all the brilliant questions posed in 2001, and it is in this very act that the film comes screeching to a halt as it realizes that not only can it not answer these questions, but that it fails as a piece of cinema as well and should have never been made.  Like that film, S. Darko: A Donnie Darko Tale trivializes us as a poor sequel to the cult phenomenon in writer/director Richard Kelly’s brilliant 2001 film Donnie Darko, which we have reviewed extensively on this site starting at this link:





All of the things that made 2001 special, unique, incredible, powerful, and masterful are completely void in 2010, that is also true in S. Darko, which eliminates all of the elements that made Donnie Darko so wonderful and tries to over-explain things as the film changes directing hands and now brings us up to speed with Donnie’s little sister, who was in the first film and actress Daveigh Chase reprises her role to bring at least some consistency to the picture.  We also understand why this was released straight to video as this sequel arrives a bit too late for most people to care and even die-hard fans already knew that any attempt at a sequel would likely fall flat on it’s face, well, they were right. 


The story is heavily convoluted and attempt to use time travel in order to explain the plot holes and unevenness of the script, unlike it’s predecessor Donnie Darko, which utilized a clever time-travel them integrated into the film in such a profound way that even after seeing the film multiple times, you can get a different outcome with each viewing.  In this film we meet up 7 years later with Donnie’s sister Samantha who is on a road trip with her best friend, and they end up breaking down, which leaves them having to find a motel.  It is here that they meet a local guy named Randy who says he can fix their car, during the limbo Samantha is haunted at night by the events of her brother’s death from the first film, she too wakes up in strange places.  The film then meanders around for quite some time and even attempts to bring some sort of element from the first film about how Donnie Darko knew about the secret life of the Patrick Swayze character and his “kitty porn dungeon”. 


The film arrives to us in a mediocre 1080p high definition transfer that is framed at 1.85 X 1, which Donnie Darko was shot in scope and utilized low light level photography to achieve the look of the film, which often has a glowing blue appearance, they attempt that here, but to no avail as the film just looks too soft and does not contain the interesting camera work that the first film did, which also helped make the film stand out and that is still true to this day, even on the Blu-ray format.  Most of the time the detail is solid, other times it seems a bit less refined and almost grainy.  The nighttime shots are also inconsistent and the ‘look’ of the film has been jeopardized by noise and odd saturation levels.  No matter how good this Blu-ray transfer gets, it never helps the film translate.  The DVD edition is much poorer and has a hard time working out the refinement levels being in a standard definition format we see limitations throughout. 


On a slightly more positive note, the DTS-HD 5.1 mix is a bit more interesting and has more to offer in the mix department than even the first film.  The visual cues are supported by an enhanced surround experience and the overall fidelity is strong and supportive, it’s too bad the film couldn’t have more to offer to make the Blu-ray work.  The Dolby Digital 5.1 mix on the DVD is severely weak and by comparison is very night and day when compared to the Blu-ray edition.  We have come to expect this more often than not. 


Director Chris Fisher’s commentary runs the length of the film, which is informative in nature, it’s interesting seeing him along with production members try to justify the film in some crazy ways, which is extended with the ‘making of’ featurette that is about 15 minutes in length, there are also some interviews and there is a great moment where Fisher even admits that he isn’t really that familiar with the theory behind Donnie Darko, at least based on what the original film portrayed, which after hearing this and seeing the sequel we can only wonder why he even bothered?   In addition there are some deleted scenes and other promotional material that is worth skipping over, just like the film, which will leave you craving the original film more than you thought you might already.  By far the lowest point in the film is a scene when Samantha walks past a theater that is showing Twelve Monkeys, Strange Days, and Alice in Wonderland… didn’t they know that you never feature a better film than yours inside your own movie? 


I doubt that most fans will be disappointed, after all most fans of the first film realize how difficult a sequel would be and their hopes for this dreadful mess were probably low to begin with. 


Anyone wanna watch Twelve Monkeys now?



-   Nate Goss


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