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S. Darko: A Donnie Darko Tale - Blu-ray DVD / science fiction DVD / thriller DVD review
S. DARKO: A DONNIE DARKO TALE Rated R by the Motion Picture Association of America curledupdvd.com rating: 3 stars
Featuring: Daveigh Chase, Briana Evigan, James Lafferty, Ed Westwick, Walter Platz, John Hawkes
Director: Chris Fisher Studio: 20th Century Fox
DVD release: 12 May 2009 Runtime: 103 min.
(1 disc)
Format: AC-3, Color, Dolby, DTS Surround Sound, Dubbed, Subtitled, Widescreen, Blu-ray
DVD features: 1080p High Definition, Aspect ratio 1.85:1, Audio tracks (5.1 DTS-HD Master AudioT - English; 5.1 Dolby Digital - French), Subtitles (English SDH, Spanish, French), Commentary with filmmakers, Deleted scenes, The Making of S. Darko, Utah Too Much

If you haven't yet seen Donnie Darko, please watch it before continuing. There are rules, terminology, and conventions laid down in the first film that need to be understood before considering watching the second.

What we have here is yet another sequel to a film that required none. I know that most movie deals have sequels written into the contracts, and those contracts expire. That doesn't mean that they have to be acted upon. The cult success of Donnie Darko all but ensured that this would be made in some form or another. While not a rollicking success, S. Darko, however has at least succeeded in not ruining the original film retroactively (I'm looking at you, Highlander 2!).

Seven years after her brother died, Samantha Darko (Daveigh Chase) is lost. She's run away from home with her friend Corey (Briana Evigan), looking to find what's been missing from her home life since Donnie died, her sister got married and moved away, and her parents became distant and cold. They're driving west in hopes of starting careers as dancers in Corey's dad's L.A. club. If that sounds appealing to her, I'd hate to see how bad her family life turned out since Donnie bit it.

Their car blows a water pump outside of Conejo Springs, a small town whose chief export is despair. They check into the seedy lone motel there and get invited out to a party or two. When a meteorite creams the bejesus out of a windmill (think farm-style, not Holland) a local pariah known as Iraq Jack (James Lafferty) is spared in much the same way that Donnie was spared from the jet engine in the first film. Jack is widely held to be responsible for the disappearance of a couple of young boys in the area.

If you know the terminology of the first film, I can tell you that a tangent universe is again created, and things start getting sad and hectic in Conejo Springs before everything is put right. Evils are revealed to the town in this tangent universe as they were in the first film, and good things happen but are then taken back when the universe rights itself. Director Chris Fisher's film parallels Donnie Darko to some extent, which provides for a film that's interesting but not compelling.

A Donnie Darko-like, Frank-like rabbit head makes an appearance as well. The creator of this head has a connection to the first film I'll not reveal, and he sees a drawing of Frank that Donnie made inside the cover of his copy of The Philosophy of Time Travel. This makes no sense. I know that, in a film where the universe is out of joint and the animated dead guide the living, that's a bold statement, but there are rules established in the first film that must be adhered to. If Donnie got his copy of The Philosophy of Time Travel in the tangent universe that collapsed upon itself and therefore never existed in this timeline, how could there be any leftovers from that universe for his sister to carry on to the second film? Fortunately, that's the only real faux pas that I detected in S. Darko, and I haven't watched with commentary. It's possible that it could be explained there.

S. Darko is interesting, and I think a lot of the Darko lovers out there will check it out, but it's not quite as compelling as the first film and it doesn't add much to the universes of Donnie Darko. Another option entertained but not pursued was a prequel involving the earlier life of Rita Sparrow, Grandma Death from the first film. This would have been a better option but perhaps more expensive with period set-pieces and such. Still just as easy to fail at, but a more compelling story than what was told here. S. Darko, however, does have the added allure of containing the word Darko as well.

The Blu-ray edition contains special features identical to the standard DVD, but the high-definition audio/visual superiority will ease the sting of a less-than-compelling second-go-round in this particular universe for Donnie Darko completists
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reviewed by Eric Renshaw
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