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Rental Review: S. Darko

May 30, 2009
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S. Darko

By Chad Larson

In 2002, I thought Donnie Darko might be the biggest mindbender of a movie I’ve ever seen. Richard Kelly’s use of variable speed filming (going from fast to slow motion in the same shot), time lapse photography and generally weird special effects was something I hadn’t seen before. Not to mention the movie’s loopy time-travel and parallel universe plotline that was masked behind the story of a young man with apparently severe mental problems and his relationship with a pretty girl.

In 2009, I first heard about S. Darko, the sequel that no one had asked for. I heard that only Daveigh Chase was returning from the original cast and that Richard Kelly had publicly stated that he had absolutely nothing to do with the movie.

I did not see either of these things as a good sign.

Out of sheer hope I added S. Darko to my Netflix queue. After getting through the three unskippable ads for other movies (wtf, Netflix?) I pushed Play.

Cool, the hot girl from Step Up 2 (a movie I never saw, but I respect hotness nonetheless) is in it. Cool, creepy girl from The Ring (Chase) grew up to kinda look like Jessica Biel. They are on a road trip. They are popping pills and they say they are immaculate.

Their car breaks down. The town’s typical handsome bad boy pulls up in his red Trans Am to save them. I swear to God, he actually has his cigarette pack rolled up in his shirt sleeve. This guy tries so hard to be James Dean it’s incredible. Rebel Without An Acting Ability.

So anyway, back to the “plot.” It’s 1995, 7 years after Donnie Darko gets smooshed by an interdimensional jet plane engine falling through a time warp. Samantha, his little sister, has the typical amount of problems you’d expect from someone whose brother became a pancake due to the universe (or whatever the hell happened in the first one). Her friend Corey, who is the hot girl from Step Up 2 (which I’d like to reiterate I never saw), has a nose ring and a colored streak in her hair that perpetually changes color. They break down, and the James Dean wannabe saves them. While he fixes their car, they stay in the motel. Romantic tension predictably rises between both girls and the bad boy.

Iraq Jack is the town loon, a war veteran (from the first Iraq War, but it’s still topical!) who hangs out on a windmill. He has a vision of a presumably dead future Samantha who has on a pretty dress that’s offset by a fairly bitchin’ headwound. She tells him to follow her off the windmill, which he does. Windmill is then hit by a meteorite.

A bunch of other crazy crap happens. Assuming you understood the first movie, you’ll understand that this movie features TWO tangent universes that are created by the main characters screwing around with the timeline. Yes, there is actual time travel in this one, explicitly – not like the somewhat subtle time change at the end of the first movie.

This movie tries really hard to expound upon the time travel mythos created in the first movie. A meteor is depicted as being a glowing space cube from a time warp, then it turns into a phoenix before it hits the planet. However a bunch of other meteors fall too that are not Energon Cubes, so your guess is as good as mine as to what that was supposed to mean. Jackson Rathbone from Twilight is in it and he says he sees a tesseract. He’s a little nuts when he says it and it’s never even remotely explained so who knows what that even means.

Look, I’ll be honest… this movie is direct to DVD and there’s a reason for that. The pacing is slow, slow, slow and the storyline meanders all over the place worse than this review is. It’s so disjointed and never really gets to the point that I can’t even accurately review it. There are many, many throwbacks to the first movie – bubbly time warps coming from people’s chests and leading them around, a scene in a movie theater with two people sitting alone, a bubble barrier between a character and someone they see in their imagination, 80’s music, time lapse, variable speed photography, the Bunny mask, people named Frank, etc.

This movie is fan fiction with a big budget, and I am going to live the rest of my life pretending it did not exist.

For the record I did not like the Director’s Cut of Donnie Darko because I felt like it beat you over the head with what happened during the storyline, explaining things outright rather than implying and leaving them up to the viewer’s interpretation.

If you are a fan of Donnie Darko I would honestly say to skip this unless you just can’t live without viewing it. I feel like it cheapens the original one seeing someone capitalize on it, and I wonder how many more direct-to-DVD sequels we’ll see if this one makes money.

I give this one a 1.5 out of 5. The only reason I give it the .5 is the attractive female leads. And not even that can save this POS.

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