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334 of 376 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must-have DVD
I missed this film in its theatrical release (apparently it received limited distribution), but since it requires at least two viewings, it's well-suited for DVD. It's difficult to describe the story or even characterize it by genre, which shows how original the film is. Simply put, it's about time travel, but it's about a lot more than that, too.
The acting is...
Published on February 17, 2003 by pm444

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149 of 164 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Awesome Movie - Transfer to Blu-Ray Not So Good.
First I would like to say that this review is more targeted at the Blu-Ray transfer of this movie. When I first found out this movie was available on Blu-Ray I had to have it since it's one of my favorite movies. I already owned the DVD, and was happy with the quality of the video on my up-converting DVD player. I figured the Blu-Ray would have to look better since it...
Published on December 1, 2009 by MGB


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149 of 164 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Awesome Movie - Transfer to Blu-Ray Not So Good., December 1, 2009
By 
MGB (California, USA) - See all my reviews
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First I would like to say that this review is more targeted at the Blu-Ray transfer of this movie. When I first found out this movie was available on Blu-Ray I had to have it since it's one of my favorite movies. I already owned the DVD, and was happy with the quality of the video on my up-converting DVD player. I figured the Blu-Ray would have to look better since it advertised as HD 1080p. Unfortunately that was not the case; in fact the DVD looks better up-converted than the Blu-Ray does. How does that happen? It appears the studio did very little to prepare this film for Blu-Ray. If anything they made it worse by trying to doctor it up rather than spend the money to re-master it properly. The movie has a lot of dark scenes which are almost all grainy and not very detailed. The light scenes are not as noticeable but you can still see it unless you're sitting a good distance from your TV. I guess the point I'm trying to make would be to hang on to your DVD until they fix the Blu-Ray transfer. At the new price it's worth buying if you don't already have the DVD, but don't "up grade" to this from your DVD.
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334 of 376 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must-have DVD, February 17, 2003
By 
This review is from: Donnie Darko (Widescreen Edition) (DVD)
I missed this film in its theatrical release (apparently it received limited distribution), but since it requires at least two viewings, it's well-suited for DVD. It's difficult to describe the story or even characterize it by genre, which shows how original the film is. Simply put, it's about time travel, but it's about a lot more than that, too.
The acting is consistently outstanding, with a list of well-known names in the cast, along with less familiar ones. Jake Gyllenhaal gives an amazing performance that is so convincing, you forget that he is acting; he IS Donnie Darko. While the story is mainly told through his eyes, the other characters are surprisingly sympathetic as well. This is not an easy feat for a script to accomplish, especially when the viewer must focus so much attention on every event. It would have been easy to create a one-dimensional hero and a bunch of villains, but writer/director Richard Kelly doesn't take the easy way out.
Instead, we get a highly intelligent and challenging film that engages us as much as it baffles us, that injects enough humor to keep us from stress-overload, and most importantly, makes us want to watch it again and again, even after we know what's going on. In this sense, "Donnie Darko" succeeds where other films have fallen short: for example, I enjoyed the complexities of "Memento", but I was not able to identify or even care very much about any of the characters. The same was true of "The Usual Suspects". Both are excellent films, but I viewed both from a distance, more analytically than emotionally.
I did not view "Donnie Darko" from a distance. I was drawn into the world that it creates, and enjoyed it enough to return more than once. A brilliant first film from Richard Kelly, who has set a very high standard for himself.
The DVD does full justice to this fine movie. The video and audio are excellent, and the extra features are quite thorough. I particularly enjoyed the commentary by Richard Kelly and Jake Gyllenhaal, which I listened to the second time I watched the film. They do a great job of helping the viewer to connect the dots. They also include just enough of the usual "behind the scenes" banter to keep the commentary from becoming too academic.
This DVD would definitely be included in any "desert island" list that I would ever compile. Strongly recommended!
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48 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The End of the World, August 15, 2005
Funny, sad, and mind-blowing, 'Donnie Darko' is, quite simply, an excellent movie. The plot is complex and engaging, with Jake Gyllenhaal as the protagonist, followed up by a cast that doesn't leave Jake holding up the movie.

Depending on what version of the film you see, the plot can be simple, or very hard to understand. I saw the original version on television and it was easy to comprehend. However, I had a lot of questions about little plot strings that weren't tied up. Just the other day I saw the director's cut. I spent the rest of the night explaining things to the people who watched it with me while simultaneously figuring it out myself.

But, let me explain first. In the original version of the movie the plot line goes like this. Donnie Darko is introduced as the protagonist. He smokes, sees a therapist, and is rude to his parents. Then comes the fateful night of October 2nd.

Donnie is asleep when he hears a voice that tells him to follow it. Donnie gets up and walks out of the house and onto a golf course where a human sized, demented bunny rabbit called Frank tells him the world will end in 28 days, 6 hours, 42 minutes, 12 seconds. At the same time as this encounter a jet engine falls through Donnie's room, which would have crushed him had he not gone out to the golf course. For the next 28 days Donnie goes on certain missions by the bidding of Frank, gets a girlfriend, and finds out about time travel. I wont tell the ending for the sake of preserving it.

In the director's cut there are a few differences. The beginning is the same. However, this time the end of the world mentioned by Frank really comes into play. It is explained (and this is explained only in the director's cut) that Donnie is in a tangent universe separate from the primary universe, and it will collapse after a few weeks, creating a black hole in the primary universe destroying all of existence.

Donnie goes through the same adventures with a few differences here and there from the original version with the same ending result, only it is much clearer why he does what he does.

I highly recommend this movie to those intelects who like to think about the plot, and to those who like dark comedy, and also to anyone and everyone, for this is truly not a film to be missed.
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364 of 421 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Remarkably original, August 12, 2002
This review is from: Donnie Darko (Widescreen Edition) (DVD)
Any form of media that makes you think has succeeded in what it set out to do.Donnie Darko is a film that succeeds on every conceivable level. The script is original and entirely unpredictable. There isn't a single bit of action or dialogue, not one frame that can be anticipated. The characters, too, are refreshingly well-conceived and highly unique. And it's a treat to see actors we know well (Drew Barrymore, who also produced, and Noah Wyle) stretch well beyond our usual expectations. There is great humor in this film as well as great sorrow. And, ultimately, it's impossible to say if the entire scenario takes place within the dreams of a brilliant but possibly schizophrenic young man or if, as he so desperately wishes, he has, through physics, managed to reverse time.
Jake Gyllenhaal gives a stunning performance as Donnie. Even his body language--incurving shoulders, questioning eyes, uncertain smiles--reveal a vast, searching intelligence. Mary McDonnell gives yet another in a roster of thoughtful portrayals--this time as the despairing mother of brilliant and troubled Donnie, simultaneously loving and hating him for being emotionally beyond her reach. And Jena Mallone is just wonderful, one of the truest, most authentic young actors around today.
This is filmmaking at its best--an adventure for the mind--not to be missed.
Most highly recommended.
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101 of 115 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Sometimes less is a lot more ..., February 20, 2005
My rating and the following refers specifically to the Director's Cut. I would rate the original theatrical release five stars.

This director's cut brought to mind William Faulkner's line about writers often having to "kill their darlings" in order to meet the demands of a work's wholeness and integrity. Evidently, Richard Kelly was forced to kill his darlings with the theatrical release, and the result was close to perfection, if not perfection itself. The film's emotional force was stunning; its mysteries challenging; its pace so good that hitting pause to get more popcorn was impossible to do; its soundtrack (to my mind) a tour de force. It worked terrifically as a film experience, being a beautiful "whole" work of art. Extras that included Roberta Sparrow's book were great ... who really wanted to read the book during the movie anyways? (Which we can now do in the DC.)

Which does not mean a director's cut had no hope of working. Or even, maybe, revisions to the soundtrack (although I really think that was touchy business better left untouched). There were some good scenes deleted from the original, mainly between family members, and they didn't seem major pace-cutters. Fortunately, we do get those scenes here, but we also get the overwhelming force of the director's enthusiasm ... and WAY too much embedded detail of his personal vision.

On the upside, there's a nifty freedom to that enthusiasm which translates well into the Darko world IF you are also enthusiastic and into "playing" with Darko. In other words, if you love Donnie Darko already, you may find this cut a lot of fun. The pacing's completely blown, and the ending comes across flat compared to the original. (Kelly gets too detailed and baroque at the end, thus the impact of the "Mad World" music montage--don't want to include spoilers--and last scene is severely undermined.) Yet it's great to have more Darko, however we have to get it. And I don't regret buying this.

But if you've never seen the original DVD release, I cannot recommend this DVD set to you over that one. You will probably wonder why a cult ever built up around this film ... what anyone saw in it. You'll be missing that visceral power and compelling wonder that makes movies great and leaves you wanting to see a movie again ... immediately, if possible.

Donnie Darko was a little miracle of a film that cast a huge shadow. The director's cut joins many other films that try for bigness and achieve little ... unless, of course, in Darko's case, you've already seen the light and are into shadow-play.
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53 of 59 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The question isn't whether or not the movie's good, it's whether or not to watch the director's cut or the original, June 8, 2006
Donnie Darko is a very good movie. Yeah it gets a little to complicated for itself at times, but it's entertaining the entire way through. A very good film with a very good cast. Almost nothing wrong with it. But...

The Director's Cut: Alright, this version of the film has been criticized by many fans and critics. Often seen as making the film, simple and cheap. I myself do not enjoy it quite as much as the original, for the above reasons. But by no means does the Director's Cut make it a bad movie. I mean heck, I own it. The specials on the dvd are also pretty good.

I still suggest to you that you watch the original first, but if you don't, I wouldn't worry about it. The whole, "The Director's Cut is the Worst movie Ever", isn't true. I hope you enjoy this very good movie.

Rating: 4 Stars

I hope this was helpful, thanks for your time.
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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Donnie Darko" A Real Gem, January 14, 2003
This review is from: Donnie Darko (Widescreen Edition) (DVD)
This movie was a very pleasant surprise.
When this was initially released in theaters, I didn't quite know what to make of the trailers. It appeared to be a movie about some kid haunted by a scary-looking giant bunny, sort of a demented "Harvey" as though directed by Alfred Hitchcock. I was intrigued. Unfortunately, I never got around to going to see it in a theater, so when I saw it at my local video store, I snatched it up, having very little idea of what to expect.
What I saw was a solidly entertaining, thought-provoking, unique and thoroughly original sci-fi time travel tale with very real and believable human conflict (rare for a science fiction flick). Jake Gyllenhaal (playing the film's title character)-an unusually gifted actor for his age who consistently demonstrates a sense of truthfulness about his work (unlike so many other young actors of his generation, who seem mostly to be more concerned with looking cool and hip than with honing their craft)-gives a great performance, and is sure to have a wonderful future ahead of him. Virtually the entire cast is an impressive veteran ensemble, all of whom deliver wonderful performances: Holmes Osborne and Mary McDonnell as Gyllenhaal's parents, alternately worried and amused by their son's eccentric behavior; Katharine Ross (yes THAT Katharine Ross, of such `60s classics as "The Graduate" and "Butch and Sundance," who has unfortunately been all too absent from films since that time) as Gyllenhaal's concerned psychiatrist; Noah Wyle and Drew Barrymore (also the film's executive producer) are perfect as two young liberally minded high school teachers, embattled by a hypersensitive school bureaucracy; and Rachel Winfree gives a flawless performance as a neurotic high school teacher who tries so desperately to teach her students the difference between "love" and "fear" on the "lifeline." Jena Malone as Gyllenhaal's love interest gives a very sensitive and well-crafted performance; she forces nothing, and like Gyllenhaal, she should also have quite a career ahead of her.
The most ingenious stroke of casting in this movie, however, is perennial `80s "Dirty Dancing" icon Patrick Swayze as a cheeseball motivational speaker (a la "Up With People"). Definitely his finest performance since "Road House" (har, har).
But the greatest kudos must go to writer-director Richard Kelly (not to be confused with "Ally McBeal" creator Richard E. Kelly). It is not easy to craft a sci-fi tale that actually has a believable and compelling element of genuine human drama (George Lucas' stunted and awkward dialogue in his most recent "Star Wars" epic and the forced, saccharine emotions of M. Night Shyamalan's "Signs" spring to mind), but Kelly manages to pull it off. This movie is also part satire, too, offering relevant social commentary without being preachy or obvious.
This movie will surely go on to become a cult classic.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gyllenhaal is outstanding in this haunting film, May 28, 2002
This review is from: Donnie Darko [VHS] (VHS Tape)
How to describe "Donnie Darko," the dark psychological drama written and directed by Richard Kelly? After seeing it I thought of the film as a sort of "Ordinary People" meets "Being John Malkovich," with a touch of "Pi" and "American Beauty" thrown in. But ultimately that equation is unfair; "Donnie" is, in the end, a true original.
The film takes place in 1988. Jake Gyllenhaal stars as the title character: a troubled, sleepwalking teenager who has recurring, frightening visions. Donnie is a quest to understand the forces that are affecting his life and sanity.
Gyllenhaal's outstanding performance helps to hold the film together. He is a quirky, offbeat leading man; at times frightening, at times appealingly vulnerable. Gyllenhaal's work is superbly complemented by that of an eclectic ensemble cast which includes Katharine Ross, Drew Barrymore, and Noah Wyle. I was particularly impressed by Patrick Swayze's turn as a creepy, oily motivational speaker.
"Donnie" defies genre classification. It blends together elements of serious family drama, 80s period piece, horror, satire, and science fiction. In a sense, it is a deconstruction of the whole 80s teen movie genre. The script makes intriguing use of 80s pop culture.
"Donnie" has scenes of weirdness and absurdity, and is often punctuated by bizarre dialogue and strange, frightening imagery. And there are some really moving scenes that tap into the universal experience of human loneliness and the need for love. If there was ever a movie that had all the elements to make it a cult classic, it's the haunting "Donnie Darko."
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Learning to Live, August 13, 2006
This review is from: Donnie Darko (Widescreen Edition) (DVD)
This movie is about learning to live. Donnie Darko is a troubled 15 year old who thinks life is absurd and meaningless because, in the end, everyone dies alone.

Set in the Fall of 1988, the movie is about personal transformation and how through your own personal transformation you can change the world. The 1988 Presidential election serves as a handy backdrop for the despair caused by alienation and apathy. The country has emerged from 8 years of conservatism under Ronald Reagan and has a choice to make. This larger sense of place echoes within the community, where conservative values are prominent and people fear change. The only kind of "change" people accept comes from the self-help guru who spouts shallow epithets; whereas real works about transformation and change are shunned and called "pornographic," such as Graham Greene's short story which says, in part: "It was as though this plan had been with him all his life, pondered through the seasons, now in his fifteenth year crystallised with the pain of puberty."

This could not be a better description of the angst of adolescence and of Donnie Darko himself, now in his 15th year, who is searching for the "plan" he needs to accept the yin and yang of existence: that destruction and creation work together to create change.

Donnie is the only student in the class who understands the Greene story. When called upon by his teacher he says the story is saying that "destruction is a form of creation. So the fact that they burn the money is..,.ironic. They just want to see what happens when they tear the world apart. They want to change things."

But how does one find transformation in a world that seems to offer only diminished possibilities? In a world that believes acquisition leads to happiness? What Donnie ultimately discovers--which is why he laughs and smiles at the end of the movie--is that meaning is found through your creative engagement with life and through the mark you leave on the world.

The song "Mad World" truly encapsulates the thematic concerns of the movie beautifully. The music video, included as a special feature, is valuable in itself. Highly recommended movie.
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45 of 53 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Surprise, March 27, 2003
By 
Garrett Strantz "gilbert125" (South Bend, Indiana United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Donnie Darko (Widescreen Edition) (DVD)
As far as titles go Donnie Darko" is about as unassuming as they get. Go figure then that the movie is one of the more original, thought provoking contributions to cinema in recent memory.
What makes this film so engrossing is the effective balance that is achieved between the more technical aspects of the film and the story itself. This balance cannot be overlooked as there have been innumerable movies over the years with interesting ideas but poor execution, as well as the inverse. The Thirteenth Floor and Cameron Crowe's Ope... Vanilla Sky come to mind.
Technically, this movie is wonderful. The lighting, the camera work, the pacing, etc all fit the movie perfectly. Also, the use of music is done quite well as it adds to the mood of the picture and does not distract. The script is also a triumph, which is noteworthy given that the film does tend to ebb and flow, 'changing' from 80's teen flick, to horror, to dark comedy, and back again. The casting is spot on as well. Patrick Swayze finally has a career-defining role and Jake Gyllenhaal is perfect in the title role.
And then there's the story. At first glance, the plot could come off as a jumble of ideas tossed together, I suppose. But, the way the pieces fit together (and they really do) and the shear originality of it all make it work. Amazingly, "Donnie Darko" is one of the few modern movies that cannot be directly compared to something else, which is noteworthy in this era of big budget remakes and explosionfests that are supposed to pass as legitimate cinema. Sure, certain aspects of the movie may seem familiar, but whole of the movie is original.
If you like movies that require thought, attention, at least a second viewing, and an open mind, "Donnie Darko" would get my highest recommendation. And even if you prefer movies that require less work, ignore this and go rent Con Air (again).
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Donnie Darko (Widescreen Edition)
Donnie Darko (Widescreen Edition) by Richard Kelly (DVD - 2003)
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