The Butterfly Effect isn’t a perfect movie but it does have subject matters that not many other films, especially mainstream ones, rarely tackle. The performances from an impressive cast are mostly good and while some of the sequences are a bit laughable, I found it to be a serviceable flick.
Genre(s): Thriller, Fantasy, Drama
Warner Bros. | R – 114 min./119 min. – $19.98 | July 17, 2012
Directed by: Eric Bress & J. Mackye Gruber
Writer(s): Eric Bress & J. Mackye Gruber (written by)
Cast: Ashton Kutcher, Amy Smart, Eric Stoltz, William Lee Scott, Elden Henson, Logan Lerman, Ethan Suplee, Melora Walters
Theatrical Release Date: January 23, 2004
Features: Commentary, Featurettes, Deleted Scenes, Storyboard Gallery, Fact Track
Number of Discs: 1
Audio: English (DTS-HD MA 6.1 ES)
Video: 1080p/Widescreen 1.78
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
Disc Size: 42.9 GB
Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
Region(s): A, B, C
THE MOVIE – 3.0/5
“Change One Thing. Change Everything”
Plot Synopsis: A young man (ASHTON KUTCHER) struggling to get over disturbing memories from his childhood discovers that he is able to travel back, through journal entries written as a child, and alter evens in his past. However, every change he makes transforms his life and that of those around him, including the love of his life (AMY SMART), often to unexpected and disastrous consequences.
Quick Hit Review: I’ll be perfectly honest, when I first saw The Butterfly Effect in theaters back in 2004 (8+ years at the time of this review), I didn’t think much of it, giving it a 2.0/5. I think part of the reason was my bias against Ashton Kutcher because by that point, his claim to fame was “That 70s Show” and Dude, Where’s My Car. Now that I’m older and perhaps not that much wiser, re-evaluating the movie while I still am not enamored with it compared with others, I do have a new found appreciation for Kutcher… for the most part.
What I think the biggest thing going for the movie is its darkness. Obviously the subject matter, including child pornography, a child getting blown up (off screen thankfully), prison gang rapes, etc. lends to a frickin’ dark flick but even the humor is quite dark and it all naturally melds together. However, it is so dark that it’s kind of hard to really “enjoy”, it’s more something I appreciate than anything else.
The story itself is also impressive because often movies involving time travel, in whatever form lend to quandaries that make little sense and although there are some gaps in logic (the main character as a boy has blackouts which later turns out to be openings of sort for the older counterpart to enter and make changes. It’s hard to wrap your head around especially considering the changes happen instantaneously. Still, I have to give props to the writers because on some level it does make a certain amount of sense.
The acting is fairly impressive. First, Ashton Kutcher isn’t bad, but his first scene didn’t make for the best first impressions as his expression, running away from guards in a mental ward, is a bit laughable than intense or dramatic. However, after that scene and up to the end where it is fully played out, Kutcher proves to be an effective, enigmatic and charismatic actor who transcends his comedic roots.
The supporting cast, including Amy Smart, serves the story well in what are limited parts. In fact, outside of Smart, they are mostly one-note characters that you don’t get to know all that well and instead are there to provide conflict for our main character. As I said, though, Smart probably gives the most dynamic performance of the bunch as she plays several different versions of the same character from damaged and scarred to a bubble gum cheerful, well developed girl.
Written and Directed by Eric Bress and J. Mackie Gruber, The Butterfly Effect has a great premise, so-so execution and some decent performances even from Ashton Kutcher, though some of his scenes I have a hard time taking him seriously. Still, even as dark of a movie as this is, it’s at least entertaining in the sense you don’t know what’s coming next.
The Director’s Cut: I watched this version and although I think on the whole it’s a tad better, the ending will make you say, “WTF”. Whether that’s a good or bad thing is up to you, but it’s hardly mainstream, I’ll say that much. Personally, while the ending in the theatrical version is “safer”, I probably still prefer it more, if anything to hear the Oasis song, “Stop Crying You Heart Out”.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 3.25/5
All of the features – save for the DVD-Rom content – have been ported over for this release.
Feature Commentary – Co-Writers/Co-Directors Eric Bress and J. Mackey Gruber sit down, on the directors’ cut, for a track which is at times fun but also provide information about this cut and how it differentiates from the theatrical version.
The Science and Psychology of the Chaos Theory (8:59; SD) explores the history behind the “Chaos Theory” from the perspective of scientists and professors. It’s not an overly fascinating featurette but gives you some background of which the movie is based upon.
The History and Allure of Time Travel (13:24; SD) takes a look at why time travel movies are so popular. Like the previous featurette, this too has interviews with some of the same people as they analyze the subject.
The Creative Process (17:50; SD) – This featurette actually looks at how the movie came to be and how the writers/directors became friends before delving into the story behind The Butterfly Effect.
The Visual Effects (16:05; SD) is a cool look at how some of the visual effects were created.
Infinifilm Directors’ Cut Fact Track is a basic text feature where you learn some more information about the movie and just some odd tips and bits (like the kind of car on screen).
Storyboards allow you to look at a gallery of set designs from scenes.
Deleted Scenes (6:33; SD) has nine scenes which aren’t anything special and only would hamper down the final product. Also included is a “Happy Sappy Ending” which was filmed but had no intention of using.
Theatrical Trailer (2:33; HD)
VIDEO – 4.5/5
The Butterfly Effect makes its debut on Blu-ray with an excellent looking 1080p high-definition transfer. The movie is presented with a 1.78 widescreen aspect ratio (theatrically it was 1.85) and while it is a very dark looking movie, a bit oversaturated in places (by design), it features great detail level throughout. There’s a fine amount of film grain and noise but it’s not overabundant to the point where it’s a distraction. All in all, it’s another impressive transfer from a Warner Brothers catalogue title.
AUDIO – 4.5/5
The Blu-ray comes equipped with a rich sounding 6.1 ES DTS-HD Master Audio track. The bulk of the movie is dialogue driven but when it gets into more action-centric scenes, the track comes to life, engulfing each of the channels quite nicely; dialogue levels are also good coming from the center speaker. Michael Suby’s score also effectively comes across each channel with force but not too loud.
OVERALL – 3.5/5
Overall, The Butterfly Effect isn’t a perfect movie but it does have subject matters that not many other films, especially mainstream ones, rarely tackle. The performances from an impressive cast are mostly good and while some of the sequences are a bit laughable, I found it to be a serviceable flick. The Blu-ray has a decent amount of features, and the audio/video transfers are impressive to make this worth picking up.