Donnie Darko - Collector's Edition Blu-ray
(Richard Kelly, 2001)
Review by Gary Tooze
Studio: 20th Century Fox - Region 'A'
Aspect ratio: 2.35:1
Feature film: 1080p /MPEG-4 AVC
Disc Size: 45,682,403,678 bytes
Theatrical Feature Size: 19,746,324,480 bytes
Director's Cut Feature Size: 24,981,104,640 bytes
Times: Theatrical: 1:53:12.202 / Director's Cut: 2:13:51.064
Total Bitrate: 24.88 Mbps
Theatrical:DTS-HD Master Audio English 2147 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 2147 kbps / 24-bit
(DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Commentaries: Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio English 224 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 224 kbps
DUB: Dolby Digital Audio French 224 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 224 kbps / Dolby Surround
DTS-HD Master Audio English 4153 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 4153
kbps / 24-bit
(DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Commentary: Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps
English, French, Spanish, none
• Audio commentary with director Richard Kelly and Kevin
Smith ('Director's Cut' version only)
• Audio commentary with cast and Crew (Theatrical version only)
• Audio commentary with director Richard Kelly and Jake
Gyllenhaal (Theatrical version only)
• Enhanced for D-Box Motion Control Systems
Disc 2: Single-layered DVD
• The Donnie Darko Production Diary (52:48) - with optional commentary by DP Steven Poster
• They Made Me Do It Too: The Cult of Donnie Darko (28:02)
• #1 Fan: A Darkomentary (13:16)
• Storyboard to Screen Comparison (4 scenes - 7:57)
• Theatrical trailer
Standard Blu-ray case
Release Date: February 3rd, 2009
Summary: 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...
"Pay close attention," warns the Web site for "Donnie
Darko: The Director's Cut," because "You could miss
something." Damn, I missed it. I'm no closer to being able
to explain the film's events than I was after seeing the
2001 version, which was about 20 minutes shorter. The
difference is, that doesn't bother me so much. The movie
remains impenetrable to logical analysis, but now I ask
myself: What logical analysis would explain the presence of
6-foot-tall rabbit with what looks like the head of a
The director's cut adds footage that enriches and extends the material but doesn't alter its tone. It adds footnotes that count down to a deadline, but without explaining the nature of the deadline or the usefulness of the countdown (I think it comes from an omniscient narrator who, despite his omniscience, sure does keep a lot to himself). What we have, in both versions, is a film of paradox that seems to involve either time travel or parallel universes. Having seen in "The Butterfly Effect" (2004) how a film might try to explain literally the effects of temporal travel, I am more content to accept this version of the Darko backward and abysm of time.
Image : NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were ripped directly from the Blu-ray disc.
This Blu-ray contains both the original theatrical version and 20-minute longer 'Director's Cut'. Strangely 'branching' was not used to 'seam' the two versions together in the file structure - which would have saved a lot of space - possibly improving compression*. Perhaps the cuts were too varied and difficult to weave together though - I don't know. Hence, both versions are the equivalent of single-layered transfers. The image quality does not appear dynamically sharp but improves over the existing DVDs in showing far less artifacts and much more grain. The differences can appear subtle but as the image is expanded it becomes readily more apparent. This is not a film that strongly benefits from the advancement in resolution. There is no question it looks superior but the consumer advantage is more limited than in many other comparisons we have done. Colors seem a bit warmer (more so in the DC), and slightly brighter - detail improvement is apparent in close-ups - but there are not a lot of them in the film. The theatrical Blu-ray rendering in 1080 may be marginally hazier than the DC. Fans should be aware that the higher resolution simply helps Donnie Darko's intended presentation - it doesn't make the film look better than it can look. Digital aficionados will be grateful that there are no apparent manipulations to smooth out that good grain or unrealistically enhance colors or detail.
* NOTE: Roger tells us in email: "When originally released the director's cut utilized (mostly) the same music, but different scenes utilized different cuts. The opening scene, for instance, utilized a different track. I believe the director's cut scene was also cut slightly differently, but I'm not sure of this. I hope this helps answer the why they didn't approach the blu-ray as you expected." (Thanks Roger!)
CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION
Darko - Director's Cut - Metrodome UK - RC2
(PAL) - TOP
Donnie Darko - 20th Century Fox USA - Region
'A' (Theatrical) Blu-ray
Audio & Music: Both versions sport a new DTS-Master 5.1 track that I noted in the crispness of the music - with tracks like Tears for Fears ("Head over Heels"), Duran Duran ("Notorious") and Echo & The Bunnymen ("The Killing Moon"). There is original music by Michael Andrews that haunts the film well but nothing sounded demonstratively separated. This isn't a track that supports a lot of aggressive range. Fox offers only 3 subtitle options and one foreign language DUB on the theatrical only, making it appear that this Blu-ray disc is region 'A' locked.
Extras:Three, count'em three!, audio commentaries which I *believe* have all been on previous DVDs in one edition or another. Firstly, director Richard Kelly and Kevin Smith chat during the 'Director's Cut' version and then on the Theatrical we get a Cast and Crew one and another with Kelly supported by Jake Gyllenhaal. For those wishing to delve further into Donnie Darko - these commentaries provide some essential production and creative impetus information. Also on the Blu-ray disc, exclusively, are an Enhanced for D-Box Motion Control Systems. There is a second disc 2 - which looks to be a duplicate of the single-layered DVD from the 2-disc Director's Cut package of a few years back. On it are an hour's worth of The Donnie Darko Production Diary with optional commentary by DP Steven Poster, They Made Me Do It Too: The Cult of Donnie Darko for close to 1/2 an hour, a scattered #1 Fan: A Darkomentary for less than 15 minutes, a Storyboard to Screen Comparison utilizing 4 specific scenes for about 8 minutes worth of information. Finally there is a theatrical trailer. Some, more enterprising, disc producer may have put the DVD disc contents on the Blu-ray as it appears there was room.