Despite the fact that “Donnie Darko” was one of the most imaginative, bold, exciting and talked about cult films of the last ten years, nobody really asked for a sequel. It was just that kind of movie – it said everything that it needed to say in one sitting. Heck, even Richard Kelly’s director’s cut that came around a few years later felt pretty superfluous. Nevertheless, the bean counters have won again, and so we have “S. Darko,” which is made by an entirely new set of creative folk yet stars Daveigh Chase, who played Donnie’s little sister, Samantha, in the original. Taking place seven years after the events of “Donnie Darko,” the sequel sees Samantha and her friend Corey (Briana Evigan, daughter of Greg) taking a road trip cross country, only to have their car break down in a crappy little town. There, all manner of weirdness surrounds them, most of it ripped directly from the original film. Tangent universes? Check. Roberta Sparrow’s time travel book? Check. Evil bunny mask? Check. A perverted motivational speaker? Check. Funny thing is, “S. Darko” finds absolutely nothing fresh or new to do with any of these ideas.
The movie is so reliant on the mythology set up in the original that it would make absolutely no sense if you haven’t seen the original, and yet because it brings nothing new to the table, fans of the original are bound to find it little more than a pointless exercise in commerce. It’s a shame about the screenplay, because most of the actors turn in pretty good performances, especially Evigan, whom I look forward to seeing more of in the future. Director Chris Fisher knows his way around the camera as well, and there are some really pretty pictures on display. And certainly any movie featuring music from The Cocteau Twins, Catherine Wheel and Dead Can Dance can’t be all bad, but it just so happens this one isn’t very good, either.
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It’s been awhile since my last Blu-ray column (two weeks ago, I attended a brand retreat in Walt Disney World with Hanes and returned with a non-swine flu), but luckily, I didn’t miss too much. In fact, with the exception of “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (which you should definitely pick up, by the way), there were no other major releases last week. This week is a different story, however, with a few A-list titles, a slew of movies from the Paramount and MGM vaults, and an awesome collection that sci-fi fans are going to want to check out.
“Taken” (20th Century Fox)
By far the biggest surprise of the year, Pierre Morel’s “Taken” is a good old fashioned action thriller that doesn’t waste a single minute on pointless exposition or silly subplots. Liam Neeson is excellent as the Jack Bauer-type who jets off to Paris when his teenage daughter is kidnapped by human traffickers, and then proceeds to kick the ass of each and every person involved until there’s no one else left to punish. Though I’ve yet to actually check out the extras on the Blu-ray release, the U.K. edition sported some pretty cool bonus material including a picture-in-picture geographical locator, a making-of featurette, and side-by-side comparisons for six of the film’s key sequences. I’d expect the U.S. version to feature the same, but here’s hoping we get a few exclusives as well.
“Star Trek: Original Motion Picture Collection” (Paramount)
With J.J. Abrams’ big screen reboot of the sci-fi classic tearing up the box office in its first week in theaters, it’s really no surprise that Paramount would want to take advantage of the hype train by releasing all six of the original “Star Trek” films on Blu-ray for the first time. As we’ve already seen from the Season One release, however, Paramount’s HD reissues are more than quick cash grabs, but rather serious undertakings meant to please the most loyal of fans. The same appears to be true of the “Star Trek: Original Motion Picture Collection,” a seven-disc box set that includes remastered editions of all six movies (sorry, no director cuts this time around) and an additional disc of bonus material entitled The Captain’s Summit. Suffice it to say, this is a no-brainer Day One purchase for any real “Trek” fan, but at such a great price ($79.99 on Amazon), I’d even say it’s worth it for the casual fan as well.
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