The Butterfly Effect/The Butterfly Effect 2 (2004/2006)
By: James Gillett on August 20, 2009 | Comments
The Butterfly Effect/The Butterfly Effect 2 (2004/2006)
By: James Gillett on August 20, 2009  | 
DVD
Icon (Australia) Region A,B,C 1080P (24p/50Hz). 1:85:1 (16:9 Enhanced). English DD 5.1, HDMA 5.1. 113/89mins
The Movie
Cover Art
Credits
Director: Eric Bress, J. Mackye Gruber/John R. Leonetti
Starring: Ashton Kutcher, Amy Smart, Elden Henson/Eric Lively, Erica Durance, Dustin Milligan, Gina Holden
Country: USA
External Links
Purchase
The Butterfly Effect: "The Butterfly Effect" refers to what's known as the Chaos Theory, which theorises that the smallest most seemingly inconsequential event, like the flap of a butterfly's wings, can have significant and unpredictable consequences in the future, such as the path a hurricane may travel.

It's an interesting concept to ponder, but what happens when the theory is integrated into the screenplay of a modern day thriller? The answer awaits...

But before I go any further, I'd like to point out that the version of the film presented here is the Theatrical Version, and not the longer Director Cut that was released on DVD in Australia and elsewhere. While the movie is fundamentally the same in both versions, the ending has been tweaked in the Director's Cut. I won't go into the actual differences for fear of spoilers, but fans with a preference for either version should take note.

Evan, as a child, experienced occasional blackouts which usually coincided with some fairly traumatic events. Years later at Collage, he soon discovers he has an ability to go back in time to those particular moments, allowing him to change his past and hopefully improve his future, and the future of those close to him.

If that sounds like an intriguing premise, then this is a movie for you. What I should mention is how darkly toned the film is. To put it mildly, a few of the outcomes to his 'tinkering' aren't exactly best case scenarios. But since the outcomes of his time travels are always uncertain, it's a captivating watch. It also gives the supporting cast opportunity to play very different versions of themselves. Amy Smart is especially good in her different versions of her character Kayleigh, who is essentially the love interest of the protagonist. Her various outcomes bring some polar opposite personalities, and she's handles them all beautifully. Ashton Kutcher also does a good job with the first of his serious roles after years in comedy. He makes a good lead, playing it fairly low key. Also worth noting are the impressive turns by the younger actors playing the child versions of the central characters. They all pull in believable and mature performances that enhance the film, and almost steal the show. Especially Jesses James (yes, that's his real name) who plays the 13 year old version of Kayleigh's brother, who managers to give one of the most menacing performances of a youngster in recent memory.

The Butterfly Effect is an engaging and thought provoking thriller. Its ideas are interesting and well executed and the cast only seals the deal. If you're ok with the scripts reliance on the idea that a single event can dictate your future behaviour and circumstance- and I am for the purposes of an entertaining ride- then The Butterfly Effect is a great piece of entertainment, and well worth your time.

Trivia Bits: This was one of the most widely read unproduced scripts in Hollywood. It wasn't until Ashton Kutcher decided to executive produce that the film was finally greenlit.

The Butterfly Effect 2: For every moderately successful thriller or horror outing, it seems there's at least one DTV sequel made on the cheap to mop up some of our hard earned cash. The Butterfly Effect was no exception. This DTV sequel is here for those who demand more of what they got in the first. But do they get it?

Nick Larson (Eric Lively) is on a little weekend trip with three of his closest friends, including his girlfriend Julie (Erica Durance). He's your typical go get 'em corporate type, so when his boss calls, he rounds up the gang to drive back and take care of business. Only as fate would have it, a tire blows causing a severe crash, with Nick the only survivor. Riddled by emotional pain one year later, Nick is experiencing some serious headaches that coincide with a new found ability; one that allows him to go back in time to key events in his life, change his fate, and hopefully make things right for him and his friends.

The attractive thing about this series is no doubt the whole 'what if I could go back and do that thing differently?' concept. It's an understandable fascination and I don't think there's anyone out there that hasn't wondered at least once how things would be if they could do just that. The series loves to grab onto that notion and exits mostly just to play out the various possibilities of the protagonist's attempts to change their future.

That's all fine, and it's still interesting to explore the second time round, but what I was really wondering while watching this entry was; where the hell is all the darkness and intensity I saw in the first film? The Butterfly Effect 2 just feels surprising lightweight in terms of feel and content. I'm not talking about gore (the original was never about that) I'm talking about the overall tone of the film. This entry is almost like watching a soap opera, only with a touch of time travel. I wasn't hoping or expecting this film to wallow in the depths of human depravity, but it's a stark contrast to the original's dark vibe, which worked extremely well for the material and upped the ante considerably. This entry just feels a little midday movie, and is less effective as a result.

It terms of style, it's mostly shot in a fairly grounded and static manner. Director John R. Leonetti (Mortal Kombat: Annihilation) goes for fairly simple setups and gets the job done. The cast are serviceable, if a little dull; which can certainly be said of the lead Eric Lively, who is ironically quite flat and uninteresting. I never thought I'd wish for Ashton Kutcher, but watching this guy I did. To be fair, a good deal of the blame could go to the writing, which is uninspiring in its characterizations. It's also content just to re-use the original's formula (expected) and package it into a far less intriguing tale.

With The Butterfly Effect 2 you can expect more of the time travelling hijinks from the first, only cheaper looking, with much less intensity and with a considerably less impressive cast. It's possibly worth a rental to pass the time, but it's ultimately forgettable, and pales in comparison to the much darker and superior original.

Trivia Bits: Screenwriter Michael D. Weiss was also responsible for scripting the DTV sequel I'll Always Know What You Did Last Summer.
Video
The Butterfly Effect is presented in its aspect ratio of 1:85:1. I was quite pleased with this transfer. The image is sharp and grain free. Also the colour reproduction was solid as were the black levels. It's not a reference grade HD transfer, but it looks good. It's also presented at 24p; a mode which simulates the frame rate of viewing a film in a cinema. Another plus in my book and a good upgrade over the DVD.

The Butterfly Effect 2 is presented in its aspect ratio of 1:85:1. The video here is reasonably good for a lower budget effort. There were no real apparent flaws or issues, but it doesn't really 'pop' like some of the better HD transfers. I'm betting that has more to do with the source material than the mastering.

Audio
Audio was solid across both movies, if slightly more dynamic on the first film. Both movies present options for either 5.1 DD Surround Sound or DTS HD Master Audio. No complaints here; crank it up and enjoy.
Extra Features
Like other recent Blu-ray double features from Icon, there are no extras on this disc. Upon inserting the BD you get the option to play either The Butterfly Effect or The Butterfly Effect 2. You will then be taken to a movie specific menu with the following options; Play Movie, Scene Selection, Audio Setup or Select Film. If you were hoping for anything else, you're in for a sad old time.
The Verdict
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
The Butterfly Effect is an excellent thriller, bursting with ideas, style and intensity. The sequel is your usual throwaway DTV follow-up. As far as the disc is concerned, the lack of extras is its only real downfall. Also the inclusion of the Theatrical instead of the Directors Cut of the original seems an odd choice. Still, the transfers are good and the price is right.

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