13th Dec2016

‘Donnie Darko: Limited Edition 4K Restoration’ Review (Arrow Video)

by Paul Metcalf

Stars: Jake Gyllenhaal, Jena Malone, Mary McDonnell, Holmes Osborne, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Daveigh Chase, James Duval, Arthur Taxier, Patrick Swayze, David St. James | Written and Directed by Richard Kelly


Donnie Darko is one of those films that are hard to forget. I’ll admit that I was obsessed by it, and the true meaning so I’ve seen it way too many times to even bother counting. Now that Arrow Video’s Donnie Darko: Limited Edition 4K Restoration has been released, now is yet another reason to take a trip down the rabbit hole.

When Donnie Darko (Jake Gyllenhaal) is told by a 6-foot rabbit that the world is going to end in 28 days, 6 hours, 42 minutes and 12 seconds his life starts to get stranger than usual. Avoiding death by a falling jet engine, finding love, and becoming a general outsider to society, it becomes apparent that something isn’t right in the space-time continuum. The only person who may hold the answer as to how to fix it may be Grandma Death (Patience Cleveland).

The secret to Donnie Darko is that there are many possible explanations as to what occurs. We are all given the chance to find a solution as to the puzzle of Frank the bunny, but I prefer to see Donnie as a boy out of time. I won’t go into too much detail after saying that, as that may be a spoiler in itself.

Watching the new documentary included with the release of the Donnie Darko: Limited Edition 4K Restoration it is interesting to see the fight that Richard Kelly had to get the film made. It continued to be a movie that had bad luck and could have even been lost to its audience, but luckily the UK film fans took it to their heart and gave it a new life. This may be a reason that we are getting such a special release from Arrow Video.

In the Limited Edition we get two versions of the film, the Theatrical Cut and Director’s Cut. These both come with their own set of commentary tracks as well as separate special features. What is most important of course is the fact that the new restoration of the film looks very impressive. If you’ve not seen the film in a while, then this is the perfect chance.

For those who may not have seen Donnie Darko, to describe it best would to be to say it is Stranger Things before the popular Netflix show even existed. Both Donnie Darko and Stranger Things have an obsession with the Eighties, feature a science fiction tale that is heavily influenced by popular culture, and most importantly tapped into it. What Kelly’s film does bring with it though is a more adult tale.

Donnie Darko isn’t a film that is easy to understand. In many ways, this is why the Director’s Cut added in some added explanation as to what is happening on the screen. I find though, that I prefer to watch the Theatrical Cut, though that doesn’t mean the Director’s Cut doesn’t have added bonuses. If anything, the Director’s Cut adds more characterisation to the film, and adds back some nice scenes. For the music choices though, always go back to the theatrical.

Donnie Darko: Limited Edition 4K Restoration is a truly brilliant release by Arrow Video for a movie which was lightening in a bottle for film fans. A brave movie that fights against following the rules, it also brought us two characters that defined in many ways a darker style of film that we may not have been ready for.

This can be said to be a film that was ahead of its time, Frank and Donnie are two characters who symbolise this. Maybe Frank has finally fixed time and we have finally hit a moment when Donnie Darko makes sense. I doubt we’ll be able to fix 2016 though, there is no Donnie Darko moment to be had here.

***** 5/5

Donnie Darko: Limited Edition 4K Restoration Dual Format Blu-ray and DVD is available now. It will also be available in a standard Blu-ray release on January 9th (Theatrical and Director’s Cut) and also DVD (Theatrical Cut) also on January 9th.


Review originally posted on PissedOffGeek

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