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The Butterfly Effect
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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

How Kelso lost his mind.

8/10
Author: Johnny Hollywood (jnatsis@iprimus.com.au) from Sydney, Australia
25 July 2011

Every so often we all seem to move away from the usual nothings we talk about amongst our friends, and instead get into a deeply philosophical conversation about the workings of Chaos Theory and the existence of parallel universes. No? Okay, just me then. In any case, this discussion just the other day led to a friend recommending The Butterfly Effect, a film that puts both a stylistic and sinister spin on the idea that even the mere flapping of a butterfly's wings can result in drastic changes in another place or time. Being initially sceptical because of the generally negative reaction from critics, I was certainly not disappointed by film's end.

Ashton Kutcher couldn't be more different that his concurrent role as the dimwitted Kelso from That '70s Show in his lead performance as Evan Treborn, a man who has suffered blackouts since his childhood, and realises that he can access and relive vital gaps in his memory through the help of other sources like journals or images. He uses this skill to, in his eyes, right the wrongs of the past. Namely, injustices that were performed upon his friends Lenny and Tommy and only love Kayleigh (Amy Smart). What he doesn't realise is that the changes he thinks are made for the better actually result in a severely changed future that threatens his own life.

Without trying to sound like a sadist, The Butterfly Effect excels in presenting a consistently dark, melancholy atmosphere. Indeed, there is hardly a happy moment in the entire film, although that may be untrue depending on which ending you watch (more on that later). Any event that looks as if it might provide a slim ray of hope for Evan to make things right is quickly dashed by a sudden escalation of the plot, maintaining the viewer's interest the whole way through. The film doesn't shy away from heavy subject matter either, including prostitution, murder, paedophilia and drug use, all of which culminates in an enjoyably gritty, underground tone.

Positively, the menacing nature of the movie isn't weighed down by comic relief. I suppose when many of us think of this sort of plot, we first think of the Simpsons Halloween special when Homer invents the time-travelling toaster. Not knowing quite how dark the film would turn out to be, I was concerned The Butterfly Effect would go down a similar path, in which Evan keeps returning to the present to find that all humans have grown wings or Pauly D has become President. Instead, any changes are limited to the persona of the characters, rather than altering the physical environment, which was definitely the professional path to take.

The pacing is another strength. For a film that comes in well under two hours, directors Eric Bress and J. Mackye Gruber deserve credit for packing a lot in, and doing it well. Certainly, some thrillers benefit from slow-moving scenes to draw suspense (the superb Eyes Wide Shut, for example) but Butterfly manages to combine compounding urgency with engaging character development in constructing a fast-moving film that requires both thought and stamina to decipher, without being needlessly confusing.

Oddly, the film possesses four different final scenes, and so the lasting message of the movie may differ depending on the copy viewed. My favourite ending is the 'official' one applied to the theatrical release. It is satisfying, yet open-ended, as is the case with its alternate cut. Another is uncharacteristically upbeat and illogical, perhaps suggested in the editing room as a way of appeasing confused screen-test viewers. But if you really want to get down to brass tax, go with the Director's Cut: a far more morbid conclusion with a surreal twist. Intrigued? Don't let me stop you.

*There's nothing I love more than a bit of feedback, good or bad. So drop me a line on jnatsis@iprimus.com.au and let me know what you thought of my review.*

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6 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

The Teen Model Effect

7/10
Author: dunmore_ego from Los Angeles, California
29 April 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Ashton Kutcher courts credibility by sporting a beard that looks like the direct result of losing his shaver and sleeping in his clothes for two days. It worked for George Michael.

As far as I can gather from *The Butterfly Effect*'s totally illogical storyline, a teen model time travels backwards to rectify sins of the past so that in the "present," he can hook up with another teen model.

Noble? No. Hot? Definitely.

We must remember whom this wiffle of a movie was created for – girls. But despite its attempt to sabotage itself by casting Kutcher in the lead role, this thriller succeeds as a very effective and entertaining film. Directors/writers Eric Bress and J. Mackye Gruber move the action at the pace of a car salesman's pitch, and twice as slick, designed to specifically deceive your brain through the muddled logic and irreconcilable paradoxes for exactly the length of the movie. After that, you're on your own…

The actual "butterfly effect" is a chaos theory syllogism (attributed to an early pioneer of chaos theory, Edward Lorenz), which posits that "the flapping of a butterfly's wing will create a disturbance that in the chaotic motion of the atmosphere will become amplified eventually to change the large scale atmospheric motion, so that the long term behavior becomes impossible to forecast." (Michael Cross, Professor of Theoretical Physics, CalTech). Put more simply, "the flap of a butterfly's wings in Brazil may set off a tornado in Texas." (ibid.)

Consequently, *The Butterfly Effect* movie is based on chaos theory in the same way that *Achy Breaky Heart* is based on *Bohemian Rhapsody.*

But the notion that the filmmakers attempt to impart is simple enough. Whenever Evan Treborn (Kutcher) jolts himself backwards in time to try to change one thing for the better (to ultimately end up with his dream girl, Kayleigh, played with varying degrees of conviction by Amy Smart), his action sets in motion a wave of unpredictability for the "present" that he returns to.

Or at least, unpredictability for the principals only. Evan, his mother and his teen friends change dramatically whilst every other person in their orbits is more or less unaffected. They don't seem to have made any new acquaintances, business partners or lovers along the way who influenced their lives – these few teens only seem to have affected each other and the outside world just came along for the ride.

So the world DOES revolve around teen models!

The method by which Evan achieves his temporal travels is by reading his childhood diaries; read a certain page with the concentration of a teen model and he is jolted back to that point in time, as per Einstein's Theorem of Teen Model Time Travel. Upon finding a mess in the "present" after each backwards jaunt, Evan steps up his jaunts to the point where we are watching him with the expectancy of another episode of Gilligan's Island; that is, the serious nature of his unique power dissipates and we wonder how that crazy Gilligan is going to mess up THIS week. Ultimately, the plot goes past chaos theory and straight to chaos.

Weighted issues like pedophilia (shabby Eric Stoltz making a cameo as a child molester), letter bombs (remember the good old days when not even a bomb placed in your letterbox would make you puss out and cry "terrorist!"?), animal abuse and baby-killing keep the movie above the fluff level. Some would say *below* the decency level.

The kids playing younger versions of the teen models are such fine actors that, in a fit of disassociation, we incorrectly attribute their talent to the overall character of Evan, Kutcher being only the eldest incarnation, but nonetheless garnering our misplaced respect. Mediocre actor as read, there's no doubt that Kutcher is on a different plane of maturity when it comes to his professional life: an ex-Bioengineering student from Iowa, the 6'2" ex-model is a producer, executive producer, writer, restaurant owner – and married to the hands-down-hottest Brat Packer (Demi Moore) who was married to the hands-down-hottest action hero in Hollywood, Bruce Willis. Dude, where's my bitchslap?

The fact that Evan does end up performing a noble deed which leaves him Without The Girl is a brave choice for a Chick Flick of Kutcherian proportions, raising the sobriety level of the film even higher. (The director's cut inserts a very disturbing ending indeed: Evan goes back to the womb for his noble deed - how he got there, his fetus not having made any diary entries, is a question for the chaos theory mathematicians to answer. Anyone got Edward Lorenz's number?)

If taken at face value, *Butterfly Effect* is a crafty, hip, infuriatingly enjoyable jaunt. If taken with a shred of logic, it retains about as much credibility as - well, Ashton Kutcher.

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8 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

Compelling and Intriguing Movie About Making Choices and Taking Responsibilities

7/10
Author: Galina from Virginia, USA
4 May 2005

A troubled young boy with the memory issues (Ashton Kutcher) is suddenly able to transport himself back into moments from his past, change them for the better and return to the present. The changes he makes affect not only his life but the lives of his close friends. The problem is - he never knows how exactly the changes made in the past would affect the present. The idea of the movie is anything but new - we all read Ray Bradbury's "A Sound of Thunder," an unforgettable short story about a time-traveler who steps on a prehistoric butterfly and causes the horrible changes in the fate of the whole humanity. We've seen the films Frequency, Groundhog Day, and Memento - Butterfly Effect borrows a lot from them. BE is not as good as they are but it is a compelling and intriguing movie about making choices and taking responsibilities. I recommend watching director's cut with the ending completely different from the theatrical release. The ending that I saw really made this movie for me.

Very respectable even if not completely successful effort for Kutcher to do something different than Cheaper by the Dozen (2003), My Boss's Daughter (2003), and Just Married (2003).

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9 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

Buy the Director's Cut and watch ONLY this version

10/10
Author: fandago2003 from Greece
12 November 2007

OK it's a bit to late to write a comment about this movie but let me tell you about it. Don't by any means watch the theatrical version!!! The first time I watched the movie was when I rented the Director's cut version. I was fascinated, really stunned by this movie. It kept me wondering why I haven't heard of that movie before and the answer was that people didn't see the Director's cut but the Theatrical version instead. Oh yes there are no similarities between those versions. The theatrical version is a light version if you like, a version at the end of which you will say "well OK nice movie", but(!!!!) the Director's cut gives the real meaning of the movie. It changes the whole idea, it adds new scenes and omits others, it changes the whole movie with a new outstanding ending and the plot in general is more concrete!!! I won't say anymore so jump to the Director's cut at once and if by any chance the TV broadcasts the theatrical version just change the channel!!!

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9 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

Could have been good

5/10
Author: aliceboy from England
29 October 2006

If there is any one thing that REALLY holds this movie back, it's probably MTV eye-candy Ashton Kutcher. Sure the script is weak and smacks of late night pot sessions, sure the direction is alternatingly sloppy and overwrought, and sure I reached the movie's end thinking 'why the hell should I care?'...but all these considerations are nothing compared to the mess that is Kutcher's acting! The kid can not act his way out of a paper bag, and I don't know what would possess anyone to put him in such a demanding dramatic role (more demanding, honestly, than popcorn fare like this should ever expect). The only reason I can see to have put this guy -- whose previous credits included portraying the chowderhead on 'That 70's Show' and HIMSELF on the idiotic 'Punk'd' -- in this role was to get ANYONE to see it! Seriously: would anyone have gone to see a movie about the paradoxes of time travel if some schmuck nobody knew was in the lead role? Almost certainly not. At least with Kutcher on the posters you'd at least snag the poor suckers who thought 'Donnie Darko' was the deepest thing ever... Aside from they abysmal Kutcher, this movie had certain things going for it. It is, essentially, a clever premise, but a tough one to tackle. A writer could never be certain how far to go when trying to calculate the changes one could effect in one's own life and the world if able to go back and change key events in one's past. And the creators of 'Final Destination 2' are not necessarily up to the task. But why should they be? Nobody expects much of them, and this movie will assuredly become another short-term classic for high-school/college half-thinkers to hash over as they play it again and again, searching for greater meaning than will ever be there. See this movie only if you're a time-travel nut...or a 13-year-old with pretensions toward genius. Otherwise, anyone could sit this one out, and spend the time changing their own life.

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9 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

Change your life before it has changed you

8/10
Author: Efenstor from Krasnoyarsk, Siberia, Russia
11 January 2005

Would you like to change your life before it has changed you? To get back to your past and cap the holes? It's much harder than you think, even if you have the moments in your past you didn't live and have a chance to live them out whenever you want! Basically, that's the plot of "The Butterfly Effect". Nothing shocking, nothing scaring, not really much stunning but still well-made, well-acted and indeed well-invented in 1972 by Edvard Lorenz, the meteorologist from the Massachusets Institute of Technology.

Direction, editing, light and make-up are amazing. Photography is not outstanding but still fine. Special effects are barely present: they are not needed in this story. In fact, the film could be a little shorter but then it would make some final scenes misunderstood. The biggest screenplay hole is that it seems like the characters can either live in perfect harmony or get to the penitentiary or the madhouse.

Psychology-fiction. I don't really like such kind of movies but this one is 8 of 10. Don't ask for the matter, just watch it. And further try to think before you do.

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10 out of 17 people found the following review useful:

Like swiss cheese - tasty but full of holes.

6/10
Author: sikobabel from NY, USA
7 July 2004

I should state up front that this review is for the director's cut.

To put it bluntly, this movie suffers from having a smart heart and a stupid brain. Any movie like this requires the viewer to suspend disbelief. In doing so the storytellers have the option to establish replacement rules to govern the universe they've created. This movie sets up well, giving the main character (Evan) blackouts which it will fill in later. However, once Evan ventures into his past to 'fill in' the empty spaces, the movie begins to contradict itself. This would be excusable if it was a lighter, more amusing movie. But this is far from light material. It is extremely morbid. The audience is bombarded with this darkness, which attempts to engage us, to give us something deeper. Unfortunately, it doesn't take much digging before you get frustrated.

For me, there are two particularly frustrating aspects to this film:

First, the tagline of this movie is "change one thing, change everything". As such, I expected that when Evan goes back to change something, everything from that point forward will be different. In other words, if Evan has ten blackouts, and goes back to visit the fifth one, then all the following blackouts would either vanish or be completely different. Instead, the blackouts are always the same. Evan jumps around to whatever blackout is convenient. However, this betrays the movie's central concept. This could have been fixed with a more careful storyline, where the blackouts were visited in reverse order.

The second frustrating aspect is the gross simplifications in Evan's revised histories. When Evan goes back and changes over a decade of history, the effects of his change are summed up far too easily and conveniently, almost as if the other people are all in on some cruel joke being played on Evan. I understand that this is done to keep the pace moving, but again the central theme of "change one thing, change everything". But even after multiple changes, a lot of the world stays pretty much the same.

Comparisons to Donnie Darko are inevitable. Donnie Darko was a superior film in this regard because it did not make the mistake of laying down ground rules and then breaking them. Instead, it hides the rules from the audience and leaves them up for discussion. As a result, you have a much more interesting conversation piece. The Butterfly Effect essentially outsmarts itself by trying too hard.

For some, my comments may seem like cynical over-thinking. This movie has a lot of polish on it to make it look good, and if you want to keep your brain turned off, you may enjoy it considerably. Some people may not like Ashton Kutcher and discredit the movie based on that, but honestly I thought his performance was far more convincing than the script itself.

Like I said before, this movie does have a smart heart. It tries very very hard to bring something interesting to the table. The setup and ending are good, but the path between is too dark for its own good and ultimately a mess of contradictions. 6 out of 10.

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32 out of 61 people found the following review useful:

The unintentional hilarity saves this junk from the lowest rating.

1/10
Author: fedor8 from Serbia
10 January 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

First of all, I haven't laughed during a "thriller", much less a "sci-fi thriller", this much in years. They should have called the film "Those Damn Vibrating Letters". Or perhaps "Comedy Of Errors", because whichever new reality Ashton creates - it turns into a complete disaster, either for him, for someone else, or for everybody in his life. I can see Laurel & Hardy in Ashton's role, screwing up one time after another – in a zany slapstick comedy. But Ashton in this role, and in a THRILLER?! I think not.

This film is a cross between the very good "Sliding Doors", in which alternate destinies are explored, and "12 Monkeys", which plays with time-travel. Just having one of these two premises is complex enough to handle for such lousy writers as the two who wrote "Butterfly Effect", but to have BOTH these ideas meshed into one script – that is truly far too ambitious for writers of this caliber. "Sliding Doors" handles its theme with intelligence and control – unlike "BE" which is frantic, and manic, and so overly dramatic that it quickly becomes funny instead of suspenseful. "12 Monkeys", which was a solid movie, stumbled on logic because time-travel plots rarely work because of the inherent traps they entail due to the (scientific) complexity of the idea..

The way the destinies of the four central characters changes with every one of Ashton's "experiments" often makes no sense. For example, we are lead to believe that Tommy would be a raving lunatic/psychopath in the first 2-3 realities, while a totally religious do-gooder in another! The writers actually want to make us believe that the way Stoltz brings up his son will make THAT much of a difference! Excuse me, but psychopaths are born, not created – and Tommy's behaviour in the first half of the film leaves without any trace of a doubt that he IS a psychopath, and that means that Tommy cannot be a nice guy in ANY reality which Ashton creates.

"BE" is overly dramatic. Everything happens with extra weight. The girl is like De Sade's Justine, always being the victim, always being attacked, ruined, whatever. The movie wants us to feel for her – FINE – but why the pathetic exaggerations? Examples: 1) she gets blown up by the dynamite: this is like a scene out of a Bugs Bunny cartoon! I.e. funny because Ashton does his best to correct things and he just ends up blowing up people!!! (Or himself, later on – sorry, but I thought this was absolutely hilarious); 2) when Ashton visits, seeing her for the first time in 7 years, he observes her working in a diner, and what does he see??? Within seconds she manages to drop her tray, and then gets pinched in the a** by a customer! Talk about clichés! Talk about slapstick comedy! Talk about OVERLY DRAMATIZING THINGS! 3) when Ashton finds her working as a whore: I mean, fine, so she has hit rock-bottom in that particular reality/experiment, but they over-did it, what with the make-up, and her attitude and everything. Why the OVER-DRAMATIZATION? It would have been enough to show her as a prostitute; there was no need to make her look as the most MISERABLE PROSTITUTE IN THE WORLD! Other silly things in the movie? Here we go: 1) when the black teacher shows Ashton's Mom the drawing he (supposedly) did; all they do is comment on the content of the drawing – no-one mentions just how ultra-talented Ashton would have to be to draw like that in primary school! 2) when Ashton meets his father for the first time, guess what happens? His father dies! Talk about drama! You see, they couldn't write a script in which his Dad gets killed on their 3rd or 4th meeting, oh no – it had to be on the very 1ST visit. Why? Because that's how real DRAMA works – at least according to the nitwits who wrote this silly script. 3) it is never explained why it takes Ashton 7 YEARS to finally visit the girl whom he is supposed to love so much; she even ASKS him this, but neither her nor the viewer get ANY answer! 4) Ashton's mother getting so sick in a later "experiment" (the one when he blows himself up so spectacularly), and then later his mother DOESN'T get sick in another experiment when Ashton kills the girl! Wouldn't that event and her son's subsequent demise as a nut-case be enough to make her sick, too??? 5) Ashton's fat, Gothic college room-mate: now, why would they include that character? It only made the movie less serious. Either you make a serious thriller, or you make a teen romp; make up your mind.

Now for the funniest moments, the ones that had me laughing very loudly indeed. The scene in which Tommy beats up somebody in the cinema is HILARIOUS. This little twerp (i.e. the young actor Jesse James(!) who plays him) just looks funny acting like an adult ultra-psychopath! Like a 12 year-old Joe Pesci! But hands-down the funniest part of the film is the entire part in the jail. There are so many over-the-top, silly things happening to Ashton in jail, so much cliché prison-movie stuff going on, that it almost seemed like something out of a ZAZ film! Hilarious! Oh, yes, and Ashton is a bad actor. Almost forgot that.

Everyone in the film is over-acting, over-reacting, everything is over-dramatic. I'm sure many people thought this was a brilliant picture, but I think many of them haven't seen similarly-themed – and better – movies, so they thought "how original!". Original only in its silliness and absurdity. Not to mention far-fetchedness. If a circus clown could take the shape of a movie, it would be "The Butterfly Effect".

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Still thinking about it..

7/10
Author: DazedRequiem from Canada
18 May 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

It's been a couple of days since I watched The Butterfly Effect and I'm still wondering and thinking about all the twists and turns that this movie delivered. I watched this movie back when I was around nine, and never really understood it, so I gave it another go, and I'm happy that I did. When you watch this movie you explore variety of different consequences that the main character goes through because of the different choices he tries to go back and choose. Although the choices he goes back and makes may help himself, they will always hurt someone that he cares about and that he is close to. The Butterfly Effect requires you to think and play close attention to get the most out of it, so if you don't like doing these things, then this probably isn't the movie for you. If you watch this movie, it'd be best when you're not distracted. The dialogue could've been written a bit better, but the story line was great.

The performances in The Butterfly Effect are solid. I believe this was easily Ashton Kutcher's best performance, he surprised me.

Overall, The Butterfly Effect was a good movie, not great, but still better then a lot of movies today. It kept me interested from the beginning until the end, and that's what helps make this good movie. It shows how even the little choices you make in life, can change the rest of your life for better or worse.

7/10

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Mind blowing movie!!!

8/10
Author: Sau Jan from Nepal
4 May 2013

I have to admit that I find every movie involving time traveling or some sort a great one, and this one is no different. There are no correct logic to time traveling (till the time I have written this review, at least). So, all the people making fun of the flaws and loop holes in this movie must just appreciate the imagination and not the logic of this movie.

Ashton Kutcher and Amy Smart, are really convincing in each character in the movie. This movie really shows how one small moment can change the whole life. This movie shows how changing a certain action in certain point in the life can bring such vast change in the life that lies ahead. This maybe a pointless movies if someone is really looking for a good reason for the solving the mystery of time traveling.

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