The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: 20th Century Fox - 2009
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 103 Minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 1.85:1
Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, French Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Starring: Daveigh Chase, Briana Evigan, Jackson Rathbone, James Lafferty, Elizabeth Berkley, John Hawkes
Directed by: Chris Fisher
Music by: Ed Harcourt
Written by: Nathan Atkins
Region Code: A
Blu-ray Disc release Date: May 19, 2009
"It's time to travel forward"
Seven years after her brother's death, Samantha Darko is on the runfrom her shattered home, from her bizarre past, and even from herself. But when she and her friend Corey are stranded in a desert town, they witness a meteorite crash that fractures timeand begins a countdown to the end of the world. Now Sam must rely on the frightening visions that plague her dreams to overcome her own dark destiny and set time back on course before everything she knows is destroyed!
Samantha Darko (Chase), now eighteen, and her rebellious best-friend Corey (Evigan) set out on a cross country road-trip to follow their Hollywood dreams but are cut short when their water pump explodes outside a small town in Utah. After an unexplained meteorite crash-lands in the town, Samantha begins to be plagued by bizarre dreams warning her of the universe's imminent end. Now, she must decipher between blurred fantasy and reality, face the demons she fled back home, and attempt to save both the world and herself from the ultimate destruction.
2001's Donnie Darko is a film that many consider a critical success and I would certainly have to agree. Quite honestly I was surprised when I saw this title announced. Donnie Darko is a strong film that had a befitting ending that didn't in any way feel like it necessitated a sequel, follow up, continuation etc. S. Darko isn't a bad film per se but it just feels too similar to the original which leaves it feeling like nothing more than a rehashing. There are too many plot points that fall in line with Donnie and the characters are okay but lack depth. I did find that similar or not there were aspects of this film that I liked for the same reasons that I like Donnie Darko. I guess for me it just felt unnecessary to try and piggy back it rather than coming up with a new concept altogether (if there had to be another film). The inconsistent nature of the storyline as things happen and then perhaps didn't wasn't well executed which left it feeling disjointed and uneven. The performances by the cast weren't particularly strong which was disappointing because I thought that Daveigh Chase was a good match for a role like this. I think that things were better off left alone however I think it was wise to send this one direct to video. The risks involved with trying to replicate the success of a film like Donnie Darko can be significant. In this case it didn't payoff as this movie lacks the originality, cohesiveness and depth of the original.
The rating is for some language, some violent content and brief drug use.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
S. Darko: A Donnie Darko Tale comes to Blu-ray Disc from Fox featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 35 mbps lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate 3.7 mbps.
This is a solid high definition video presentation from Fox. Image depth during the daytime sequences is appreciable from nearly every camera perspective. Objects within backgrounds have definable structure/texture which makes them appear very lifelike and three dimensional. The video is crisp with natural looking, well balanced colors that give it a transparent and lustrous quality. Shadow detail is strong which enhances depth during dark segments that contain limited light. Blacks are deep, dynamic and stable which adds punch to sequences containing both light and dark elements. Contrast is strong which delivers bright punchy whites and vivid eye popping primary colors. The exterior shots of the lush, earth toned Utah landscapes exhibits excellent delineation with deep long range acuity. Fleshtones are warm, creamy and lifelike. Resolution during several of the darkened sequences softens a bit but not to a point where I found it to be problematic. I thought that at times this video presentation looked stunning and exhibited quality that rivals the best releases I have seen on Blu-ray.
This is a well designed lossless audio presentation that plays well to the film's thematic events. It effectively uses the surround channels to elicit reactions to sounds coming from differing vantage points based on the camera's view (meaning the subject onscreen) which works really well. Jump scares are enhanced by its rich clarity, potent dynamics and deep, punctuated bass that resonates through the room with discernable authority. The vision sequences are a great example as they always begin with crackling, room shaking thunder that fills the room. Voices are tonally descriptive, well textured and articulate as they maintain a position of prominence within the front soundstage. The beautifully crafted and eerie music permeates the sound field with its light instrumentation and superlative tonal balance. I thought that this sound mix capably handles the subtle intricacies thrown at by this very decent soundtrack as it augments the creepy aspects of this film.
- Commentary with Director Chris Fisher, Writer Nathan Atkins, and Cinematographer Marvin Rush
- The making of S. Darko - 15 minute featurette
- Utah too much - 6 minute feature/documentary
- 6 deleted scenes
- (HD) Fox on Blu-ray - The day the earth stood still
S. Darko: A Donnie Darko Tale isn't a bad film but its attempt as a continuation to one of the most beloved cult classic films ever is poorly conceived and executed. Donnie Darko is a complete film on its own and needs no follow up. On the bright side this high definition Blu-ray presentation from Fox looks and sounds excellent which eases the pain should you decide to give this one a rent.
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Picture was solid, audio was relatively unimpressive, but the film was hardly worthwhile.
Thanks for the review Ralph, you were more forgiving of the film than I would have expected!
Being one of the apparently few Donnie Darko fans who prefers the director's cut, I still have some hope for its sequel. Should be able to find a copy for a song considering the resentment the film is already provoking. From what I gather though, it's a completely different story from Donnie's tale, so it doesn't meet expectations. Thanks for the warning, Ralph.
No 80's music, no witty dialogue, no Frank.
I don't mind it being a different film. The less association with the original the better, as Donnie just wasn't the type film that should be continued. Its mystery was one of the things that most defined it.
I thought everybody knew by now that the whole "it was only a dream" explanation is beyond lazy, it's flat out bad writing at its core. Trying to mask it with disconcerted or confounding exposition doesn't help. Many elements of the story showed promise though (cast, setting, soundtrack). There's much in the production worth taking away with you. Unfortunately, the films conclusion is worth walking away from.
Foxes presentation was fantastic though. I hope the original looks and sounds as great!