1,114 user 183 critic

The Butterfly Effect (2004)

Evan Treborn suffers blackouts during significant events of his life. As he grows up, he finds a way to remember these lost memories and a supernatural way to alter his life by reading his journal.
1,273 ( 166)

Watch Now

From $7.99 (SD) on Amazon Video

1 win & 8 nominations. See more awards »



Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Drama | Mystery | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

In turn-of-the-century Vienna, a magician uses his abilities to secure the love of a woman far above his social standing.

Director: Neil Burger
Stars: Edward Norton, Jessica Biel, Paul Giamatti
Source Code (2011)
Mystery | Romance | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

A soldier wakes up in someone else's body and discovers he's part of an experimental government program to find the bomber of a commuter train. A mission he has only 8 minutes to complete.

Director: Duncan Jones
Stars: Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Monaghan, Vera Farmiga
Limitless I (2011)
Mystery | Sci-Fi | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

With the help of a mysterious pill that enables the user to access 100 percent of his brain abilities, a struggling writer becomes a financial wizard, but it also puts him in a new world with lots of dangers.

Director: Neil Burger
Stars: Bradley Cooper, Anna Friel, Abbie Cornish
The Machinist (2004)
Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

An industrial worker who hasn't slept in a year begins to doubt his own sanity.

Director: Brad Anderson
Stars: Christian Bale, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Aitana Sánchez-Gijón
Drama | Fantasy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

Tells the story of Benjamin Button, a man who starts aging backwards with bizarre consequences.

Director: David Fincher
Stars: Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett, Tilda Swinton
Looper (2012)
Action | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

In 2074, when the mob wants to get rid of someone, the target is sent into the past, where a hired gun awaits - someone like Joe - who one day learns the mob wants to 'close the loop' by sending back Joe's future self for assassination.

Director: Rian Johnson
Stars: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis, Emily Blunt
Mr. Nobody (2009)
Drama | Fantasy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

A boy stands on a station platform as a train is about to leave. Should he go with his mother or stay with his father? Infinite possibilities arise from this decision. As long as he doesn't choose, anything is possible.

Director: Jaco Van Dormael
Stars: Jared Leto, Sarah Polley, Diane Kruger
Identity (2003)
Mystery | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

Stranded at a desolate Nevada motel during a nasty rain-storm, ten strangers become acquainted with each other when they realize that they're being killed off one by one.

Director: James Mangold
Stars: John Cusack, Ray Liotta, Amanda Peet
Predestination I (2014)
Drama | Mystery | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

For his final assignment, a top temporal agent must pursue the one criminal that has eluded him throughout time. The chase turns into a unique, surprising and mind-bending exploration of love, fate, identity and time travel taboos.

Directors: Michael Spierig, Peter Spierig
Stars: Ethan Hawke, Sarah Snook, Noah Taylor
I, Robot (2004)
Action | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

In 2035, a technophobic cop investigates a crime that may have been perpetrated by a robot, which leads to a larger threat to humanity.

Director: Alex Proyas
Stars: Will Smith, Bridget Moynahan, Bruce Greenwood
I Am Legend (2007)
Drama | Horror | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

Years after a plague kills most of humanity and transforms the rest into monsters, the sole survivor in New York City struggles valiantly to find a cure.

Director: Francis Lawrence
Stars: Will Smith, Alice Braga, Charlie Tahan
The Butterfly Effect 2 (Video 2006)
Horror | Sci-Fi | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 4.4/10 X  

Nick Larson discovers a supernatural way to alter his life and travel back in time to key moments in his life by looking at photographs.

Director: John R. Leonetti
Stars: Eric Lively, Erica Durance, Dustin Milligan


Cast overview, first billed only:
Kayleigh at 13 (as Irene Gorovaia)
Sarah Widdows ...
Jake Kaese ...


Evan Treborn grows up in a small town with his single, working mother and his friends. He suffers from memory blackouts where he suddenly finds himself somewhere else, confused. Evan's friends and mother hardly believe him, thinking he makes it up just to get out of trouble. As Evan grows up he has fewer of these blackouts until he seems to have recovered. Since the age of seven he has written a diary of his blackout moments so he can remember what happens. One day at college he starts to read one of his old diaries, and suddenly a flashback hits him like a brick! Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Verändere die Zukunft, durch die Vergangenheit (Change the future, through the past.) See more »


Sci-Fi | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for violence, sexual content, language and brief drug use | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

23 January 2004 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El efecto mariposa  »

Box Office


$13,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$17,065,227 (USA) (25 January 2004)


$57,938,693 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (director's cut)

Sound Mix:

| |


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


All of the prison scenes were filmed in a real prison (Washington State) with real prisoners. See more »


When in the diner with prostitute Kayleigh, the slice of pie constantly changes direction when alternating between Evan and Kayleigh's shoulder views. See more »


[first lines]
[reading aloud as he writes a note]
Evan: If anyone finds this, it means my plan didn't work and I'm already dead. But if I can somehow go back to the beginning of all of this, I might be able to save her.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The title, "The Butterfly Effect," is superimposed over a depiction of a butterfly beating its wings, which is itself superimposed upon an X-ray profile of a human brain. See more »


Referenced in Supernatural: My Heart Will Go On (2011) See more »


My Elastic Eye
Written by Tom Rowlands, Ed Simons and Le Baron (as Bernard Estardy)
Performed by The Chemical Brothers
Courtesy of Virgin Astralwerks Records
Under license from EMI & TV Music
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Promises more than it delivers
28 October 2005 | by (Baltimore, MD) – See all my reviews

If we want to analyze where this movie fails, we can look no further than the title. It alludes to a popular metaphor in chaos theory, the idea that a butterfly flapping its wings could cause a storm on the other side of the world. It also draws heavily on Ray Bradbury's classic short story in which the entire history of mankind is affected by someone stepping on an insect.

Based on this background, you'd think this movie would be about how tiny, trivial events can have monumental, unpredictable consequences. I would have liked to see a film that truly addresses this possibility, since most time-travel movies ignore it. In "Back to the Future," for example, I could never believe that Marty would ever be able to set the past straight after his initial interference. Just his setting foot in the 1950s ought to have threatened his existence. Why? It's quite simple. Even though his parents will get married to each other, how can he be sure they'll have the same kids? "Back to the Future" set the standard for the genre by narrowing the scope of possible changes when dealing with time paradoxes.

The main problem with "The Butterfly Effect" is that it doesn't transcend this level but simply thinks that it does. Take the scene where Kutcher tries to stop the exploding mailbox. The chain reaction of events that result from this act may be drastic, but there is nothing unpredictable about it. He affects a crucial event in his life and the result is a straightforward, logical consequence, hardly akin to stepping on an insect and changing the course of man. The writers could have used far more imagination when devising the plot. Other changes that the character makes are unconvincing, such as the notion that he could prevent recurrent child abuse simply by threatening someone on a single occasion. That scene, in any case, is not a good example of little things affecting the world in big ways. It's an example of wishful thinking, plain and simple. When the scenario finally goes wrong, it happens because of the way Kutcher's character acts in the altered present, not because of the altered time-line itself.

The film's first forty-five minutes are somewhat more promising. These early scenes deal with Kutcher's childhood experiences, how he blacks out whenever his life becomes too traumatic. It's an intriguing setup that would have left me wondering where the story was headed had I not already seen the trailer, where I learned that it was going to be about time travel. On a dramatic level, the movie's biggest failing is that it never follows through with the tone it sets up in the beginning. We're promised a thriller, but the movie degenerates into what can best be described as an episodic black comedy, almost a dark version of "Bedazzled."

This is sort of entertaining, but I was hoping for more. I may have been influenced by the fact that shortly before seeing the film, I read "Bid Time Return," the Richard Matheson novel on which the 1980 movie "Somewhere in Time" is based. This book, even more than the movie adaptation, strongly leads us to suspect that the time-traveling experience occurs only in the protagonist's mind. "The Butterfly Effect" has a similar ambiguity that it never truly addresses, perhaps because mainstream audiences would have found such an approach too disturbing.

You may notice that I have so far not talked about the acting, and I will resist the temptation to rag on Kutcher's performance more than others have done. He's not terribly engaging, but it's not all his fault (especially considering that his character is played by other actors for a good portion of the film). The real problem lies at the level of the script, which doesn't give Kutcher much to do. The film is so plot-driven it doesn't spend much time on its characters.

Ultimately, this movie has nothing new to contribute to the time travel genre. While it tries to pass itself off as a twist on the old premise, it quickly becomes a fairly routine thriller about a man tweaking his past. I hope that the next time they decide to do such a film, they'll leave cool metaphors like butterfly effects to a script that is truly willing to deal with such concepts instead of simply pretending to.

29 of 49 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Contribute to This Page