- The Washington Times - Monday, May 22, 2017

The definitive homage to director Richard Kelly’s surreal, apocalyptic science-fiction drama from 2001 arrives in Donnie Darko: Limited Edition (Arrow Video, rated R, 2.35:1 aspect ratio, $49.95).

The four-disc set offers a fresh digital transfer to both its theatrical and director’s cut versions of the film and a crushing amount of extras.

Viewers get a chance to relive the 1980s-themed adventure of Donnie (Jake Gyllenhaal), a sleep-walking, paranoid schizophrenic teenager pestered by a 6-foot-tall monstrous, time-traveling rabbit named Frank who has warned him that the world will end in 28 days, 6 hours, 42 minutes and 12 seconds.

His psychotherapist (Katharine Ross) believes the hallucinations are his inability to cope with forces in the world that he perceives as threatening, while his sister Elizabeth (Maggie Gyllenhaal) just thinks he’s nuts.

However, Donnie’s encounters with his friend do not stop. As he begins to take the rabbit’s advice, his town begins to experience strange happenings with potentially deadly consequences.

A supporting cast cements the bizarre story and features Mary McDonnell and Holmes Osborne as Donnie’s parents; Jena Malone as his damaged girlfriend Gretchen Ross; Drew Barrymore as his English teacher; Noah Wylie as his science teacher; Patrick Swayze as a motivational speaker; and even a young Seth Rogen as a school bully.

Overall, “Donnie Darko,” is considered one of the most critically acclaimed box-office bombs in cinema that ultimately thrived in the home theater market through its rabid fan base.

Its latest release now offers the oddly addictive “Twilight Zone”-style story for a new generation of viewers enamored by such properties as Netflix “Stranger Things.”

Both cuts of the film present a 4K remaster, cleaned up and assembled using the original 35mm original camera negatives (theatrical), along with the best 35mm intermediate elements available (director’s cut) — with each reconstructed under the supervision of Mr. Kelly and cinematographer Steven Poster.

The results are impressive, considering it’s a 16-year-old film, but not revolutionary.

Grain in a daytime sky will distract visual connoisseurs but moments featuring a crystal-clear detail of the Darko’s chandelier, the rich green grass on a golf course, texture on Donnie’s jean jacket, the wild fly-away grey hair strands of Grandma Death and droplets from a sprinkler spraying on a very green lawn will elicit a satisfying smile.

Best extras: An impressive collection greets viewers as they dive into the attractive slipcase presentation.

I won’t take up space offering the enormous laundry list of great bonus content (roughly 10 hours with the commentary tracks), mainly culled from past releases, but here are some of my favorites:

• A generous trio of optional commentary tracks will potentially suck up a fan’s time. The two best feature Mr. Kelly and gatekeeper of comic book pop culture Kevin Smith joyously bantering over the director’s cut and an equally fun discussion between Mr. Kelly and Mr. Gyllenhaal on the theatrical cut.

• A new, roughly 90-minute documentary called “Deus ex Machina: The Philosophy of Donnie Darko” offers interviews with Mr. Kelly, Mr. Poster, producer Sean McKittrcik, editor Sam Bauer composer Michael Edwards and even actor James Duval (the mysterious Frank). Although a must-see for the fans, it’s also a great retrospective on the entire film genesis and its production for those watching “Donnie Darko” for the first time.

• A near hourlong production diary greatly enhanced by an optional commentary from Mr. Poster and loaded with great on-set archival footage that dives into the details of the filmmaking process. It’s rare to get a cinematographer to offer words at his level.

• A 30-minute featurette on the film’s lasting impact on pop culture and its various interpretations, as told by some of its British fans.

• The package also has a few tactile surprises worth mentioning. They include a set of seven, two-sided art cards (hidden in a envelope from an unusual woman named Roberta Sparrow); a large color poster (15 inches by 19 inches); and a 92-page, hardbound, full-color mini-book. The book offers essays from film critics Nathan Rabin, Anton Bitel and Jamie Graham, and an in-depth interview with Richard Kelly.

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