A look into S. Darko and why it should have never been made

Well, I was expecting the movie to be a huge trainwreck that would ruin the original forever (the original is Donnie Darko), but I'm happy to say that the film wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it would be (what with it having a different director and writer than the original).

Let's start off with the bad parts, though, so I can finish on a slightly optimistic note. For one thing, there are too many characters who do nothing interesting or even related to the story. I mean, really, why does the motel owner pop up every five minutes? He has nothing to do with anything going on in the story. And by nothing I mean just that: nothing. On top of that, there are way too many manipulated dead, as Kelly, the director of the original film and the creator of the whole Universe(s) in which both stories take place, calls them (by manipulated dead I mean characters like Frank in the original film, who die at one point in the Tangent Universe and are granted a superior knowlege and have to manipulate the living receiver -Donnie in the first film, Iraq Jack in the second- in order to close the tangent). By that last remark, I mean, of course, that the whole movie is a complete mess because, while one manipulated dead is enough to raise questions and make the film interesting, the absurd number of these characters Chris Fisher and Nathan Atkis added to the story just make the whole thing look as overcrowded as a bar during happy hour.

Another problem with the plot is the abusive use of time travel. While in the first movie the topic was time travel and it did actually occur (well, more or less), S. Darko just swings back and forth in time that I thought I was watching The Butterfly Effect 3. Mr. Atkis needs to learn not to resort to the whole theme of the movie over and over again until it turns into a terrible cliche (I suspect that, were he to direct The Passion of the Christ, they would have crucified Jesus twelve times in the first twenty minutes). Samantha dies several times during the movie and the whole thing is as incoherent as can be.

Of course, the movie isn't all bad, but, for now, I'll just pretend it is, because its flaws are enormous. Another problem with this poorly-written sequel is the fact that it tries so hard to be Donnie Darko that it doesn't have any chance at finding its own personality. From the fact that all major scenes in Donnie Darko are mirrored in S. Darko, to the laughable verbatim repetition of lines that were spoken in the original Richard Kelly film ("Burn it to the ground", for one), to the forcibly introduced bunny mask, who had no business being in this second film, other than the fact that Atkis and Fisher really wanted to stick to the bunny theme and to the interesting choice of the actor who plays the living receiver, Iraq Jack, who looks, strangely enough, like Jake Gyllenhaal, who plays Donnie, the main character of Donnie Darko. All these poor choices in judgement (except the actor choice for Iraq Jack - James Lafferty plays this part with a dedication worthy of a better movie) made the whole movie bland and particularly uninteresting.

On the plus side, though, the actors all play with dedication (particularly James Lafferty and Daveigh Chase), the image work is brilliant and all ot the characters, redundant as most of them may be, are all convincing, even the motel owner who pops up with no relation to the actual story. Now, as I was saying, the film didn't kill the original, which it could have done, and, for this, I'm thankful. Overall, S. Darko is an ok time-waster, but not a great movie nor a cult classic, like its predecesor. If you liked the original and you're curious about the sequel, go watch it, you'll still be able to enjoy Kellys masterpiece.


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