Donnie Darko has enjoyed an incredible cult-like following since the film’s debut in 2001. What that cult sees in this film is beyond me. The plot of Donnie Darko is by far the most nonsensical, random, ridiculous and acid-trip-induced sojourn I’ve ever seen. Donnie is a mid-1980s high school student who’s trudging through parental-induced therapy, has taken himself off his medications and is suffering from an acute case of teenage angst. Not exactly a good combo. Oh, and did I mention he’s routinely visited by a demonic six-foot-tall rabbit with wacko visions of the past and future? Yes, ladies and gentlemen of the Blu-ray Disc jury, this is the perfect setup for a massive meltdown.
Still, imagine my cautious optimism when I noticed that Donnie Darko supported D-BOX Motion Code. After all, D-BOX Motion Code has “saved” several Blu-ray movies for me, most notably The Happening. Unfortunately, Donnie Darko can’t be saved, not even by D-BOX, though I suppose it’s a testament to the D-BOX Motion Code that I ended up watching the whole thing. Hey, if the movie isn’t going to get any better, at least the D-BOX implementation should, right? Nope.
Donnie Darko’s D-BOX support starts out very calmly, almost like a quiet Disney ride, with a rocking motion that corresponds to the camera movements as viewers zoom-in slowly to Donnie (Jake Gyllenhaal) riding his bike. The subtle movements are akin to floating on a breeze, and they correspond well to the gentle music and cinematography. If only the rest of the movie were that calm and nuanced.
Just 12 minutes into the film, there is a massive explosion The Energy RC-Micro home theater system delivered the sound for this review.that rattles the neighborhood and the Darko family’s house. The sudden explosion is setup perfectly by an appearance by the psycho rabbit, but just as amazing is that the setup makes the D-BOX system’s rumbling and rattling just as dramatic and intense. Without D-BOX support, this scene would’ve just been a weird scenario in which a jet engine falls into Donnie’s room. With D-BOX support, it’s turned into a downright scary sequence because of the associated movement, thumps and rattles.
Aside from a few brief driving sequences — which don’t live up to the generally outstanding reputation of D-BOX vehicular scenes — the majority of the remaining Motion Code appears when Donnie has his visions of the psycho bunny. In these scenes, viewers see a close-up shot of Donnie’s eye, and the D-BOX chair rumbles as Donnie’s pupil dilates. These sequences are few and far between, though, and the most intense doesn’t even occur until the 65-minute mark, when Donnie tries to stab the bunny’s eye while his parents are visiting the psychiatrist. Considering the infrequency of these situations, one almost has to wonder why D-BOX engineers even bothered.
Other D-BOX encoded movies have had subtle sequences, but there’s often a larger payoff at the end that makes all the subtleties worth it. Not so with Donnie Darko. The entire Motion Code support is really quite subtle, an although there’s a decent hallucination scene at the 1:51 mark, it’s nowhere near the outstanding effect in Max Payne on Blu-ray. Throughout the film, I kept waiting for D-BOX to save the day, as it has on so many other occasions. But in the end, the Motion Code payoff isn’t there, and viewers are just left with a vision of Donnie shooting the satanic bunny in the eye. If only viewers would’ve been so lucky to suffer the same fate.
- Score: 6.5
- I’ve seen D-BOX support save multiple movies, but the overall lack of Motion doesn’t do nearly enough to make this film tolerable. You’re best to move on to another D-BOX-enabled film to see what Motion Code is really all about.
— Jonas Allen