Thursday, January 20, 2011

DTV Sequels: S. Darko (A Donnie Darko Tale)

If I could turn back time, I would stop them from making this film!  In 2001, Richard Kelly made a surprise hit with the film Donnie Darko.  The film is weird and confusing, but has enough underlying quality to make it last.  Of course, it's star- Jake Gylenhaal- made it really big, giving the film longevity.  Years went by as Kelly attempted to match the success of this film and, to this day, he really hasn't.  As far as Southland Tales goes, I'll get to that in time.  Since I like to repeat myself, here is the statement that has been in almost every one of these reviews.  Thanks to the rich DVD market, a sequel was bound to happen.  Kelly has nothing to do with the project, but we do get the director of Rampage: The Hillside Strangler Murders.  Uh oh.  The film jumps ahead several years and focuses on Samantha Darko, the younger sister of Donnie.  Are your hopes set to the proper level now?  Good.  Let's head on out to Utah to visit...

The film is extremely confusing, so I'll try to make sense of it.  Basically, Samantha and her friend leave Virginia (good-bye, actors who played the parents) to make it big in Hollywood.  However, their car breaks down in Utah.  They run across a bunch of weird people and stay for a bit.  The squinty-eyed guy from Gossip Girl is here doing his worst James Dean impression too.  A meteorite crashes into a windmill- why do they have that still?- and intrigue arises.  Mostly, our heroines just wander around listlessly while the film insists that interesting things are happening.  I feel that it's important to note the moments where the film blatantly tries to be the original film.
* Donnie goes to a theater and talks with the rabbit, while Samantha goes to a theater and talks to a Pastor.
* Donnie faces off with a preachy guy (Patrick Swayze) who has a dark secret, while Samantha faces off with a preacher (ha ha) with a dark secret.
* Donnie touches a wall separating reality and fantasy, while Samantha just shoves her face into it.  Ow.

Yeah, I still can't make much sense of this.  I tried- I really did.  Basically, ghosts/future versions of people wander around and try to stop some sort of catastrophe.  At one point, Samantha dies from a car accident and I actually thought that the movie would be clever.  What actually happens is that her friend reads the book on Time Travel- why does she have that?- and is led by a ghost/vision to the edge of reality.  She changes history and dies instead.  The weird guy in town meets a ghost and makes his own bunny mask out of scrap metal.  Samantha is depressed and eventually sets up the future events of the film.  Ultimately, time runs out and a meteor shower- which goes from being a box in space to a flaming bird for some reason- rains down.  The weird guy uses the time-travel cliche again and undoes 80% of the movie.  Thanks for wasting my time, guys!  He changes history by dying in the initial crash, which seems far too easy.  Samantha decides to leave town- how does his event change her mind?- and goes back to Virginia.  Aw, that would be sweet if I gave a shit.  The End.

Much like war, things never change.  The plot of this movie should be simple, but they muck it the hell up!  Time travel can be a clever device- see Time Crimes- but this movie can't get it right.  Hell, the movie they're trying to copy can get it right!  Instead of enjoying the film, I just start to question the film's internal logic.  For example, Samantha's friend uses time-travel to change the events.  However, she only uses it because of what happened, so wouldn't her undoing it remove her motive for doing it in the first place?  Furthermore, she actually dies in the revised history, making it impossible for her to have ever interceded in the first place!  I could spend all day on this crap, so I'll move on.  Beyond the plot holes and aping of the original, the film is just boring.  The actors are so listless and just don't draw me on.  It took me many viewings to even finish this film!  Mind you, I just spent this afternoon watching Red Zone Cuba (with MST3K riffing, mind you)!   Apathy is the worst response that you can get from a movie and I got it in spades.  I didn't care and I can't really think of a good reason why you should either.  There is a possibility of those of you who are morbidly-curious will find a kick out of it.  The film's shitty effects are a high point, but everything else is just bad.  Take us away, special effects from The Abyss...

Up next, the DTV sequel to the remake of a film that's actually kind of decent.  Naturally, this one follows in its predecessor's footsteps by being racist and annoying.  Stay tuned...


  1. S. darko is just an insult to every fan of Donnie Darko

  2. I think that the filmmakers went into it with the right intentions, but it just turned into a muddled, confusing mess. DD is pretty simple when you go back to it, but the storytelling here doesnt lead anywhere.