Monday, May 18, 2009

S. Darko

S. Darko
By: Judson Rusk

Anyone who has known me over the last 6 years in any capacity should be aware that I love movies. So much so that I was inspired by one movie in particular to drive my focus and to pursue a career in the film industry. That movie was Richard Kelly’s Donnie Darko. So when I heard that they were making a direct to DVD sequel, it felt like a sucker punch to the kidney. And then they announced that this new movie has been disowned by Richard Kelly and every single person, save for one, who had anything to do with the first film, which made me dislike the idea even more. But even though every single fiber of my being was utterly against the very existence of this film, my morbid curiosity got the best of me and I ended up watching S. Darko anyway. Maybe I’m a masochist, who knows…

Donnie Darko is arguably the deepest and most original movie to ever come out of Hollywood. From a cinematic standpoint, that film is almost flawless. There isn’t a single wasted frame and no filler dialogue. Every single scene in that movie plays together with some other scene(s) to drive story, character development, mood, tone, etc. If you miss out on even 5 minutes of that movie, then you will be lost as to what is happening. It deals with fate, destiny, god, time travel, family issues, personal revelation, and so much more. It forces you to think and to discuss and to research. It is most definitely a movie and an experience that I would recommend to anyone who thinks that they enjoy film or a good story. It is hands down my favorite movie and it is why I chose the career path that I am on. S. Darko is the most absolute, complete, total, and undoubted opposite to EVERYTHING that Donnie Darko was. There is utterly NO way that they could have gotten this film any more wrong. None.

S. Darko takes places some time after the events of Donnie Darko and follows Donnie’s younger sister Samantha and her best friend as they travel across the country in hopes to score jobs working a club in Reno. Mighty big aspirations, I know. Their car breaks down in a small town that has an ass load of problems including homelessness, kidnapping, religious fanatics, teens who love to party, and meteors. Yes, meteors. Apparently from space this town looks like a giant bullseye because every meteor that happens by Earth has to change its trajectory and come hurtling to the ground in this particular town. But what is most surprising is not the fact that all these problems exist in such a small town, but rather that every single resident is not only not concerned, but seems to be indifferent towards anything that happens!

“How was your meal, sir?”

**CRASH** “HOLY SHIT! Was that a meteor?!?!”

“Eh, whatever. Want me to freshen your coffee hun?”

I digress. In this film we are introduced to a character called Iraq Jack. The character has absolutely no relation to the Darko family but at the same time it is very obvious that the film makers have spent many hours and a lot of effort to make him look as close to Donnie as they possibly could. This was not only un-necessary but also embarrassing. Iraq Jack, for no particular reason, is in constant communication with the new “Frank” (who is just a dead version of Samantha) who tells him the secrets of life, the universe, and everything. He then, in turn, keeps talking to living Samantha who doesn’t understand what is going on, but yet has some sort of strange pull towards him despite the warnings of her new friends who will be referred to as “Pompous Douchebag Greaser” and “Nerdy Rash-Covered Virgin.”

Anyway, Pompous Douchebag Greaser along with Samantha’s best friend end up in a car accident which kills Samantha,…somehow. Then Samantha’s best friend gets led by the apparition of a dead child to a cave full of dead children where she learns the secret of time travel. She goes back in time, saves Samantha (but apparently forgot that the car she is in is about to get T-boned) and martyrs herself. Now, newly reborn Samantha goes on living while pissed at Pompous Douchebag Greaser for killing her best friend and decides to ease her pain while on a romantic date with Nerdy Rash-Covered Virgin which takes place on top of a hill during a meteor shower. Samantha trips and kills herself by smashing her head on a Frank mask that was forged (yes,…forged) earlier in the movie by Iraq Jack. In which case, dead Samantha a.k.a. Frank tells Iraq Jack the secret of time travel so that he can go back in time and kill himself which of course makes everything all better and then Samantha can go home. The End.

F**k this movie.

Aside from Richard Kelly who both wrote and directed Donnie Darko, there MIGHT be six or seven people on Earth who fully understand what that movie was saying. It is painfully obvious that whoever wrote S. Darko is most assuredly NOT one of those people. Neither was whoever directed this bastardized, illegitimate sequel. This movie was trying SO hard to be Donnie Darko but failed so miserably because no one could ever even come close to recapturing what Richard Kelly has created. S. Darko is supposed to be easier to understand than Donnie Darko was, but in doing so they lost the very essence of their own source material.

The complexity and mythos of Donnie Darko is what made the movie so great. But at the same time the film makers of S. Darko tried to mimic the feel of Donnie Darko by placing long sequences in slow motion set to music. The only difference is that in the first movie, these sequences weren’t terribly long, the music was good and gave the right feel for the scene, and most importantly, THEY HAD A POINT! S. Darko failed to recognize these things as their slow motion sequences were painfully long, set to music that was up-beat and at points was almost techno, and they failed to deliver us to a plot point. Also, in the first movie, the usage of specific images to drive home a certain aura around a scene is very prominent, i.e. the burning mounted deer’s head in the kiddy porn dungeon or the image of Frank sitting alone in his room as he plans out his Halloween costume. S. Darko took a stab at this as well, but only succeeded in delivering to us a poorly animated unicorn made of clouds. S. Darko cut out the depth, thought, and character of the first movie while still trying to display pretty much the exact same story and failed.

In conclusion, I would describe S. Darko as a cinematic abortion. As a perspective film maker who’s entire passion for the art is derived from Donnie Darko, this was possibly the worst insult that anyone could have issued me in any capacity. It was offensive, embarrassing, disgusting, and painful. I have used this analogy a couple times while explaining this movie to my friends, but it works so well that I have to use it again right now. If two things were to happen to me, and those two things were A. Watch S. Darko or B. Meet Steven Spielberg and have him spit in my face, S. Darko would be the bigger insult to me as a film maker. No question about it. Do NOT watch this movie.

1 comment:

  1. This is highly disappointing. Donnie Darko is also one of, if not my favorite movies. I remember watching it and all I could muster was a 'wtf just happened?' and had to watch it again.... and still didn't get it and had to watch it many more times until it clicked (after deep discussions about it)

    When I heard that there was a sequel i got excited for about 30 seconds til I realized that there was NO WAY. EVER. That it'd be 1/1000^3 as good as the original.

    I'm in pain because of my shitty army fillings, but now I'm in even more pain(but not as much as I'd be if i had watched the movie), thankyou.