Donnie Darko - The Director's Cut

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I love director's cuts and special edition movies on DVD. There is no question about that, so after seeing the major improvements to Riddick, Hellboy, Daredevil and the host of other titles filling my collection, I decided it was time to give Donnie Darko a second look. I'm happy to report - director's cuts still rock my world.

Rating: 4 out of 5

When I first saw Donnie Darko a couple years ago, I couldn't understand why this movie was getting so much buzz from the fan community. It was strange, confusing, and overall made my head hurt. The story was so loose, that many times during the flick I was able to make up my own storyline. I read all the comments about how it made you think, and that you had to really work at understanding the mysteries inside the movie. Well no shit! The story was so weird and confusing that you could have inserted a dozen other time-travel themes from Star Trek TNG into this film with no effect on the outcome. So I was not expecting much from Donnie Darko - the Director's Cut.

In the original film, Donnie (played by Jake Gyllenhaal) narrowly escapes death when the engine of a plane falls from the sky onto the family home. Frank ? a six-foot tall rabbit that only Donnie can see ? then tell him that the world will end in twenty eight days, six hours, forty two minutes and twelve seconds. After this revelation, Donnie falls into an almost surreal world at home and at school. He becomes obsessed with time travel and with a book written by an old woman in town whom the kids call Grandma Death.

Now the images of Frank the rabbit were just plain disturbing, and I spent most of the time trying to figure out if Donny was insane, or had just taken too many hits of acid. The thing that really drove me crazy was that Donny would get a look on his face throughout the movie that was reminiscent of Jack Nicholson in The Shining, making me certain that he ?was' insane. You will say that this was the point; they were redirecting you from the real truth inside the movie. Problem is, even at the end of the film, I still thought he was insane regardless.

Ok enough bitching about the original film. If you have not seen the original, I'll do my best to not give out any spoilers, but I do want to give you a few points of new features that just made this movie finally work for me.

The biggest improvement within the film has to be the extra 20 minutes of footage, most of which (and most important to the story) is of the crazy old woman (Grandma Death) who wrote the time-travel book. The information we as the audience gain from the flash-sequences are absolutely the saving grace for me. I stood up at one point and just had to shout out loud, ?I finally know what this movie is about!? It was that big of a change for me. The other major improvement has to be the sound track. (yeah, no kidding) the old track was haunting and weird and just made me feel creepy all over. (It actually distracted me at times) Now, the score blends with the film, the way a score is suppose to, you don't notice it unless you are listening for it. Add in the fact that Frank the rabbit actually talks to Donnie, and you have the beginnings of a real movie with a real plot. There are several other scenes added that vastly improve this film, but I would not be able to tell you about them without giving something away, so I'll just end by saying, ?Get this film, it is really cool - now.?

About Michael R. Mennenga

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