Unnecessary sequel that misses the point totally!
, 17 Jun 2009
THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS
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S. Darko picks up 7 years after the end of Donnie Darko, and his younger sister, Samantha (played once more by Daveigh Chase), is encountering her own alternate reality, only this time she is a manipulated dead (taking the 'Frank' role) guiding a washed out ex-soldier to stop the world from ending. Pretty much more of the same as last time around, with little attempts at referencing the original by way of names (there is a Frank who runs a garage, and the soldier is surnamed Sparrow... linking with Roberta Sparrow who wrote about time travel in the first), as though that will somehow lift the mess above the level it is at. It doesn't! The film attempts to blatantly rip off key moments from Donnie, such as 'burn it to the ground', or poorly concieved reasons for rabbit shaped masks, but seems to do it just for the sake of reference rather than having any point of purpose to the story. One of the most memorable moments in the first film was the 'Head Over Heels' introduction to the school, beginning with a spiral shot away from a school bus, and then following Donnie through the school halls. What made this scene so special was not just the music, or the 'fast-slow' direction, but the fact that it used 2 minutes of shot to introduce all the key characters in Donnie's school life without any dialogue, but in such a way that we know everything we need to know about their personalities. Well, in S.Darko a similar shot is used to walk through a party, but for no reason of introduction of character, simply just to rip off an iconic scene. Throw in someone jumping on a trampoline, and it is at this point that you realise this film is offering nothing new, no build on the original at all.
As a standalone film the story makes little to no sense. Donnie Darko at least was written by Kelly with a definite idea as to what was happening and why, even if it doesn't quite explain everything. All the clues were there if you dug down into examining every scene. With this film it seems to be deliberately written to make no sense at all, and the time manipulation used throughout is weak and unexplainable. As for the resolution (which sees another rip-off moment as we see the lives of those affected throughout played past in slow motion to music), it leaves no hint of resolution, or teases of ideas for you to care about. So, on its own merits this film is badly written, as a sequel it is diabolically bad! Donnie Darko had you leaving the theatre caring about what you saw, and trying to formulate an idea about what occurred. S.Darko has you wondering what else you can watch to take your mind off it!
If this film has any use it is in allowing us to re-examine Donnie Darko and realise exactly how well made the film was. It even allows those who were not enamoured with Southland Tales to perhaps see that film in a different light, as compared to this Richard Kelly's second film was a work of art! This was always going to be a tough sell of a film, as a sequel to such a cult success. Perhaps they should have renamed the lead character and attempted no link with Donnie. At least then it would just be a straight-to-DVD piece of trash, as opposed to one which tried to latch itself onto the coat-tails of greatness.
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