July, 1995, the time is out of joint. Two teen girls, Sam and Corey, have left Virginia for L.A. to start over. Sam's brother has died and her family's shattered; Corey's too wild. They have car trouble in a small desert town, where Corey immediately starts her partying ways, where a meteorite strikes a windmill, and where a burned-out Desert Storm vet predicts the end of the world in four days. Sam hallucinates while sleepwalking, young men have disappeared from town, and cars come out of nowhere to cause accidents. Time travel may be possible, but it takes courage and resolve. Is the addled war veteran right? If he is, can Corey or Sam make things right?
Directed by: Chris Fisher
. Starring: Daveigh Chase
, Briana Evigan
, James Lafferty
, Ed Westwick
, Walter Platz
, John Hawkes
, Bret Roberts
, Jackson Rathbone
, Elizabeth Berkley
, Barbara Tarbuck
, Matthew Davis
, Nathan Stevens
, Ryan Templeman
. Music by: Ed Harcourt
First off, I want to say I love the original Donnie Darko. The plot of creator Richard Kelly's Donnie Darko was confusing (leaving doors open and making the audience thinking for days after viewing), the acting and characters were colorful, the dialogue was crisp and unique--all which paid off and made it great film. Casting was great, though early in his career he appeared as Billy Crystal's character's son in City Slickers, I don't remember seeing Jake Gyllenhaal in a movie as an adult until Donnie Darko (nothing memorable anyhow.) The overall tone of the movie worked wonderfully. And a healthy Patrick Swayze in a triumphant, yet disturbing return—great stuff. s. Darko's answer to a comeback is Elizabeth Berkley (aka Jessie Spano) with a not so much a victorious return to the screen in perhaps her worst movie (and she starred in Showgirls.)
Once I got over viewing the movie, I watched the making of s. Darko special feature. First off, Chris Fisher states that he hasn't even seen the final cut of the movie. How does that happen? I think it says a lot when the director doesn't even watch his huge mistake. The funny thing is that most people involved in this movie seemed to know and are willing to admit they were making a tragic mistake getting on board for this what people kept referring to as a "continuation" to avoid the Hollywood cussword, "sequel."
One of the co-producers, Jennifer Connelly (not the actress), even comments about her hesitancy to become involved and mentions how "sacred things should not be toyed with by unfamiliar hands." She should have stuck by that statement and steered clear. Perhaps if Richard Kelly was involved, instead of allowing others to play in the universe he created, the movie may have had some redeeming qualities, but obviously he knew it was a bad idea or he would have been there. If you want to watch a bunch of Hollywood professionals squirm, watch this special feature, it's much more entertaining than the film itself.
To sum up the ridiculousness of the plot of this movie, actor, John Hawkes, makes a funny comment about asking him what s. Darko is about. His answer, "it's about an hour and forty-five minutes or something like that and, and I know it's in color."
In s. Darko, the screenwriter, Nathan Atkins (who implied in the making of special feature that he was hesitant to write this because he is a huge fan of the original and seems somewhat ashamed by the outcome. He even asked himself when the idea was brought to him, Why do this? I guess the answer is money.) In his "chapter of the saga," (hopefully the final chapter) Nate uses many of the cool elements of the original, the infamous creepy rabbit head being, the stream of CGI liquid that leads the characters (their destiny spirit), and the concept that water and metal are essential to time travel, but it's all done awful, and he too often tries to explain things that were left to the imagination of the viewer by Kelly to no prevail which I feel is a big no, no and a kick to the Dick. If Kelly watched this movie and ran into Nathan Atkins on the street, he would deserve an apology.
I don't like to hold the writing completely accountable, because I know there are so many elements to making a film work and a lot of the time the story looks great on paper, but when it's made something goes terribly wrong. Here it's the overall story for me. Set in the mid-1990's (in order to correlate with the original film or O.F.), Sam (Donnie's younger sister that shook a leg at the dance recital of the O.F.) and her friend, Corey, are driving to Hollywood when their car breaks down and they are stranded in a small hick town--a plot point that's had to be in at least a million movies by now. Sam has hallucinations that warn her that the end of existence is near. Some weird guy from Desert Storm is rummaging through dumpsters and just plain old being weird. Another dorky dude's got strange sores going on. All the characters speak in clichés and over explain plot points. I'm not explaining anymore of the ridiculous, uninspired plot.
Using the idea of time travel from the O.F., s. Darko fails to come up with anything innovative. The characters are blah. The town is tired. The dialogue is laughable for bad reasons. The wannabe trippy effects are not worthy of a video game. ZZZZZZZZ. Then I woke up and started it from the point I remembered last seeing and nothing changed--just another bad sequel to a movie that should have been left alone. In real life and in any movie, people should never wake up and start all over again (except in Groundhog Day.)That is bad storytelling and a cop out which the original had done tactfully without dumbing things down. I was really hoping to have at least something good to say by the end of this disaster, but now all I hope is that True Romance, Dark City and Fight Club never spawn a sequel.
Though my review for this film is bad, I admire anyone who creates a movie, Chris Fisher, Nathan Atkins, the cast. Keep making movies. That's why I give anything a chance. So why get so fired up about a movie that sucks? A. Because without bad movies there can't be good ones and without comparison there is nothing learned. After watching the making of featurette, I think everyone involved in this mess will turn down working on a "continuation" or sequel of another film they love; then again, money talks. I bet they all feel dirty now. Some great stories don't need to become sagas and should just R.I.P.
Review by donmoore444 from the Internet Movie Database.