Special Edition, Director's Cut
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During the presidential election of 1988, a teenager named Donnie Darko sleepwalks out of his house one night, and sees a giant, demonic-looking rabbit named Frank, who tells him 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 people in his town, like 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 and worse. The new Director?s Cut includes a production diary of the film (with optional commentary by Director of Photography Steven Poster), a story-board to screen featurette, the Director?s cut theatrical trailer, They Made Me Do It Too ? The Cult of Donnie Darko and the #1 Fan: A Darkomentary.
With an additional 20 minutes of material added to the original theatrical edition (including scenes not included in the augmented version previously released on DVD), Donnie Darko: The Director's Cut has a slower, more reflective pace than its first edit, and many more moments of emotional and tonal complexity. The film also has a fuller soundtrack (INXS' "Never Tear Us Apart" is featured prominently in writer-director Richard Kelly's mysterious opening) and new, startling special effects that underscore Donnie's ambiguous experience of time travel and cross-dimensional encounters with Frank, the 6-foot provocateur in a terrifying bunny costume. (Of course, new f/x or not, Donnie could still be a paranoid schizophrenic immersed in violent delusions.) Purists might find some of these changes to Kelly's 2001 cult hit about a troubled teen (Jake Gyllenhaal) trapped in alternative, apocalyptic destinies troubling. But overall the film is an even more haunting experience, impossible to shake.
An audio commentary track features a conversation between Kelly and Kevin Smith (Clerks) outlining the former's reasons for making a director's cut. Kelly says his intention was to amplify a science fiction and comic book element in Donnie Darko, re-design the sound (actually, Kelly claims, there never was a sound design for the original release), and purchase rights to various songs (including Joy Division's "Love Will Tear Us Apart") that were lost between the film's premiere at the Sundance Film Festival and the film's theatrical release. Kelly says he also wanted to give something new to the film's fans as thanks for their crucial, early support. Other features in this two-disc set include a highly entertaining production diary (including video of pre-production locations research) as well as a short film about the meaning of "Donnie Darko" as understood by some of the movie's British fans. --Tom Keogh
- Production diary with optional commentary by director of photography Steven Poster
- "They Made Me Do It Too: The Cult of Donnie Darko"
- Storyboard-to-screen featurette
- #I Fan: A Darkomentary
- Director's cut theatrical trailer
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I did not see an unboxing video before buying and I was blown away when I received the box. It really feels like a bargain at $31. The artwork done throughout by Candice Tripp is awesome.The included 90 page book is very well done and I found all of it interesting. I have not read the 2001 Donnie Darko book which the long interview was from and I really found it to be quite compelling.The post cards included with the Directors Cut and poster with the Theatrical Cut are both done well. The amount of special features and extras included is very impressive. I have watched some of them and I'm looking forward to watching the rest. There is material here that has not been released before.
The video quality of the special edition is impressive and a huge improvement over prior Blu-rays. Critics that have reviewed the Blu-rays are also very impressed. The difference for me is more obvious in outside scenes. Overall it offers better clarity and it is a bit darker. The Blu-ray appears very film like and shows details that I have never noticed before. Shadows and dark areas are handled very well and look great. This is not a Blu-ray to show off your home theater with. Look for more recent titles shot digitally. This is an older low budget movie shot with 800 ASA stock. The 800 ASA film was used so that film could be shot with less light. 800 ASA film has more grain and grain is apparent on these Blu-rays but it is not distracting. Bottom line is that this is the best this movie has ever looked and likely the best it will ever look. Arrow Video did a top notch job with their restoration.
Sound is very good and I cannot tell a difference from earlier Blu-rays.
This is a fantastic Limited Edition and well worth the money. For people that have bought the earlier editions and others that have not seen the film this is highly recommended.
I don't understand why some Amazon reviewers did not love it. This movie is rich with details that you miss upon first viewing it. It is a refreshing change from the typical box office no-brainer movies that are always replete with explosions, car chases, and predictable plots.
For sheer originality and quirkiness, Donnie Darko is highly recommended.
Whether you'll like Donnie Darko really depends on what sort of movies you like. If your idea of a good movie is something you can sit back and enjoy with a tub of popcorn, then Donnie Darko isn't for you. There is also little (really no) action in Donnie Darko. No car chases, fistfights, or major explosions. If you want a lighthearted comedy, action flick, or sappy drama, this movie will bore you to death.
But if you're in the mood to pay close attention and think about everything you're being shown, this is a great movie. Almost all of my friends who saw this immeadiately said "I need to see this movie again" because you really can't get it all on the first try.
The commentary on the DVD was interesting, but didn't really do much for me in terms of enhancing the storyline.
First off, let me just say that the DVD is packed with features: two commentary tracks, dozens of deleted scenes, the full website (which has crucial epilogue stories, and is only accessible online with difficult trivia paswords), full copy from the book that plays such a vital role in the story and so SO much more. The Donnie Darko DVD is how DVDs should be: filled with features, all of which enhance the film.
So, first things first: the director's commentary is AMAZING. If you had any questions after watching the movie (which most everyone did), the Richard Kelly addresses most of them...with humor and charisma. Jake Glyndenhall is also part of the director's commentary, and he's very funny. I especially loved his joke about "FOUR MILLION DOLLARS! We only had FOUR MILLION DOLLARS!" His groundskeeper Willy impression was pretty spot-on, too.
The other commentary isn't quite as good...mostly just cast and crew chatting over the film, and Producer Drew Barrymore rambling about whatever.
The deleted scenes provide some incredibly important story components, addressing Donnie's medication, who Frank is, and so much more. I couldn't BELIEVE that some of these scenes were cut. Some of them are just such integral aspects of the storyline....and I think you can feel their absence in the film. Richard Kelly provides commentary for these, too, explaining why he had to cut each scene.
Reading "The Philosophy of Time Travel" book that's referenced in the film is a great advantage towards understanding the story, as well. It's a little hard to read all the text on your screen...but well worth the squinting. It's clear that Richard Kelly put a LOT of work into this story, and it's nice to see all that work in one place.
Perhaps my favorite part of the DVD were the "Cunning Visions" infomercials. You have to turn the commentary on to appreciate the sheer comedic genious of these things. So so funny. I also recommend reading the website stories before watching the infomercials. It'll all make sense that way. Regardless: "I'M NOT AFRAID ANYMORE!" HA!
In sum, this DVD enhances and explains this wonderful movie, actually improving on the original film. Highly recommended, especially to those who just didn't quite understand what happened in the movie. If you liked the movie the first time around, you'll be as floored as I was with this DVD, and understand why I think this is probably the best DVD I've ever seen. So many features, such great commentary, and beautiful design. BRAVO!