Donnie Darko looks sharp with new 4K release


   This year marks the twentieth anniversary of the film Donnie Darko. Donnie Darko is a cult classic movie about a boy named Donnie Darko who is convinced by Frank, a six-foot-tall bunny, to commit a series of crimes. The plot seems simple, but it becomes so much more. Boutique Blu-Ray label Arrow Video has just released the film on 4K Blu-Ray and it looks better than ever. 

   This release has many things going for it. Both the theatrical cut and director’s cut of the movie is included on two separate discs. The 4K resolution makes the picture more crystal clear than ever before. It does not look distorted and blurry like Fox’s underwhelming Blu-ray release back in 2009. When movies are transferred to 4K, however, the main event is not the resolution. The real reason that people love 4K Blu-Rays is the use of High Dynamic Range (HDR) to make colors seem more realistic. Arrow’s use of HDR in this release made the world of Donnie Darko more real than ever before. The presence of HDR is seen best in the very beginning of the film when Donnie wakes up in the middle of nowhere. The sky’s blue looks much better and the trees have so much life to them compared to the other releases where they just blended into the background. Another great example of HDR is everyone’s favorite character from the movie, Frank. Frank’s bunny suit has so much detail to it on this release. Every little strand of fur on his suit is noticeable, whereas in other releases each strand blurred together. There is a fire in the movie and the flame looks super orange and realistic. The collector’s edition from Arrow also includes numerous goodies for Donnie Darko superfans like me. In addition to many bonus features on both discs, it also comes with physical objects. Inside of the nice packaging, you will find a one-hundred-page book that features five essays that analyze the film, a poster, and six still shots from the movie.

   No release is perfect, and while this is an almost perfect release, it is not without its caveats. For one, many people are not a fan of how dark this release is. In comparison to Arrow’s 2017 Blu-Ray and Fox’s 2009 Blu-Ray, the atmosphere is so much darker. This was intentional, though, as it was always director Richard Kelly’s creative vision to have a darker tint to the movie. The bigger problem with this release, though, is that the theatrical cut disc of the movie will not play back on most 4K players. Arrow was radio silent on the issue until a few days later when the company tweeted out a statement.

   “We are aware that the theatrical cut of Donnie Darko is not operating correctly on certain players,” the company tweeted. “We’re currently investigating the issue and the quickest way to resolve it. We hope to have more information soon.”

   Arrow Video has always had great customer service in the past, so I assume that replacement discs will be available soon.

   Seeing my favorite movie come to 4K is a real treat. Despite the theatrical cut not working, I would still say that this is a great release by Arrow. Especially since this is one of their first 4K releases. The use of HDR made the look and feel of the movie come alive in a way that I never thought would ever happen. I am very glad that Arrow has brought the movie to a new format.

   Donnie Darko on 4K is available to be purchased from most retailers that carry movies.