Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Donnie Darko – Arrow Video (4k UHD)

Theatrical Release Date: USA, 2001
Director: Richard Kelly
Writer: Richard Kelly
Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Holmes Osborne, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Daveigh Chase, Mary McDonnell, James Duval, Patrick Swayze, Jena Malone, Seth Rogen, Noah Wyle, Drew Barrymore, Patience Cleveland, Katharine Ross

Release Date: April 26th, 2021 (UK), April 27th, 2021 (USA)
Approximate Running Times: 113 Minutes 14 Seconds (Theatrical Cut), 133 Minutes 51 Seconds (Director’s Cut)
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Widescreen / 2160 Progressive / HEVC / H.265 / Dolby Vision HDR10 (Both Versions)
Rating: 15 (UK), NR (USA)
Sound: DTS-HD 5.1 English (Both Versions)
Subtitles: English SDH (Both Versions)
Region Coding: Region Free
Retail Price: £39.99 (UK), $59.95 (USA)

"Donnie is a troubled high school student: in therapy, prone to sleepwalking and in possession of an imaginary friend, a six-foot rabbit named Frank, who tells him the world is going to end in 28 days, 06 hours, 42 minutes and 12 seconds. During that time he will navigate teenage life, narrowly avoid death in the form of a falling jet engine, follow Frank's maladjusted instructions and try to maintain the space-time continuum." - synopsis provided by the distributor

Video: 4.5/5 (Both Versions)

Here’s the information provided about the transfer, "The Theatrical Cut and the Director’s Cut have been sourced from brand new 4K restorations from the original camera negative and produced by Arrow Films exclusively for this release, supervised and approved by director Richard Kelly and cinematographer Steven Poster."

Donnie Darko comes on a 100 GB triple layer 4K UHD.

Disc Size: 90.8 GB (Theatrical Cut), 98.8 GB (Director’s Cut)

Feature: 75.6 GB (Theatrical Cut), 86.3 GB (Director’s Cut)

Donnie Darko makes its way to 4K UHD via a strong release from Arrow Video that most familiar with the film should-be happy with. Released four years after their 2017 Blu-ray, this latest release from Arrow Video for the most part looks very similar. That said, there’s noticeable improvements when it comes to image clarity and though some may find some of the darker scenes too dark, I thought black levels look consistently strong throughout and any black crush issues are negligible.

It should-be noted some people had issues with the theatrical cut stuttering on their player. This issue has since been fixed by Arrow Video.

Audio: 4.5/5 (Both Versions)

Each version comes with one audio option, a DTS-HD 5.1 mix in English and included with this release are removable English SDH subtitles. The audio sounds excellent, dialog comes through with crystal clear clarity, everything sounds balanced and dynamic when it needs too


Extras for this release are spread over two discs.

Extras on the disc that contains the theatrical cut include a trailer for the film (2 minutes 28 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), twenty deleted and alternate scenes with optional commentary by Richard Kelly (31 minutes 54 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), a short film directed by Richard Kelly titled The Good Place (8 minutes 43 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), Deus ex Machina: The Philosophy of Donnie Darko, a brand-new documentary by Ballyhoo Motion Pictures on the making of Donnie Darko, containing interviews with writer-director Richard Kelly, producer Sean McKittrick, director of photography Steven Poster, editor Sam Bauer, composer Michael Edwards, costume designer April Ferry, actor James Duval and critic Rob Galluzzo (85 minutes 32 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles) and two audio commentaries the theatrical cut, the first audio commentary with Richard Kelly and actor Jake Gyllenhaal and the second audio commentary with Richard Kelly, producer Sean McKittrick and actors Drew Barrymore, Jena Malone, Beth Grant, Mary McDonnell, Holmes Osborne, Katharine Ross and James Duval.

Extras on the disc that contains the director’s cut include an image gallery, five T.V. spots (2 minutes 10 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), a trailer for the director’s cut (55 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), music video for the song Mad World performed by Gary Jules (3 minutes 21 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), Storyboard comparisons (7 minutes 58 seconds), B-roll footage (4 minutes 37 seconds), Cunning Visions infomercials (5 minutes 43 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), #1 Fan: A Darkomentary (13 minutes 18 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), They Made Me Do It (4 minutes 48 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), They Made Me Do It II – The Cult of ‘Donnie Darko’ (30 minutes 17 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), archive interviews with Richard Kelly, Jake Gyllenhaal, Jena Malone, Drew Barrymore, James Duval, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Holmes Osborne, Noah Wyle, Katharine Ross, Sean McKittrick, Nancy Juvonen, Hunt Lowry, Casey La Scala, and Steven Poster (14 minutes 20 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), The Donnie Darko Production Diary, an archival documentary charting the film’s production with optional commentary by Steven Poster (52 minutes 54 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles) and an audio commentary for the director’s cut with Richard Kelly and filmmaker Kevin Smith.

Other extras include reversible cover art, a two sided poster, seven art cards with images on both sides and a one hundred page hardcover booklet with cast & crew information, a foreword written by Jake Gyllenhaal, an essay titled Donnie Darko, Adolescence and the Lost Art of Remembering and Forgetting written by Nathen Rabin, an essay titled Discovery: Richard Kelly written by Mark Olsen, an interview conducted by Kevin Conroy Scott with Richard Kelly titled Asking Cosmic Questions, an essay titled The Cult of Patrick Swayze written by Jamie Graham, an essay titled After Darko: How Richard Kelly Adapted to the Apocalypse written by Anton Bitel and information about the restoration/transfer.


One of the staples of American cinema is teenage angst, most notably Nicholas Ray’s Rebel Without a Cause being widely considered as one of the best examples of teenage angst in cinema. Besides cinema, another notable example of teenage angst includes, J. D. Salinger’s novel The Catcher in the Rye.

The premise for Donnie Darko is a clever mix of teenage angst and elements rooted in science fiction. At the heart of the narrative is an exploration about how the decisions one makes play a large role in the spiritual journey they are on. The main character is well-defined and Jake Gyllenhaal delivers an utterly convincing performance that resonates long after his characters’ fate is set in stone.

From a production standpoint, there is not a single area where this film does not excel. And besides Jake Gyllenhaal exceptional performance, other standout performances include, Patience Cleveland in the role of Roberta Sparrow (Grandma Death), a former teacher whose book about time travel helps Donnie Darko find the answers he seeks and Patrick Swayze (Point Break) in the role of a motivational speaker named Jim Cunningham.

The atmospheric visuals and musical choices do a superb job reinforcing the various themes explored throughout this film. And when discussing this film one must not overlook the contributions of screenwriter/director Richard Kelly who delivers one of the most memorable directorial debuts in cinema history.

Arrow Video continues to upgrade their catalog to 4K UHD with solid releases that port over all content from their limited edition releases, highly recommended.

                                               Theatrical Cut 4K UHD screenshots.

Director's Cut 4K UHD screenshots.

Written by Michael Den Boer

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