Know How Butterflies Are Normally Pretty*? This One Isn’t…

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010

My stoner buddy recommended the time travelling epic, The Butterfly Effect, the other day so I borrowed it. And I am so glad I did.

This 2004 sci-fi film stars Ashton Kutcher, he who is not to be confused with Ash Ketchum. The premise of the film is showing how changes you make to the past can come back to haunt you in the future (present/whatever). And it is done really well, as most of the details mentioned early on are later relevant in some way. The main character suffers blackouts, and both the viewer and the character discover what happens during the blackouts together. In that way, it’s quite immersive and makes you want to find out what happened to him.

As anyone who knows me knows, I love the idea of time travel and this film shows exactly why we shouldn’t be allowed to have it. It shows the downsides and it is very harsh on Kutcher’s character, Evan Treborn. Seriously, extremely harsh to him. It’s weird to think that in an alternate timeline, I wouldn’t have seen this movie and you wouldn’t be reading this.

I recognise some of the other characters from other television programmes, like Callum Keith Rennie, (whom aficionados will know as Ray Kowalski from the excellent Canada-Em-Up Due South), Kutcher’s co-star, Amy Smart (Starsky and Hutch and Scrubs) and Almost-Marty-McFly, Eric Stoltz. It took an imdb search to find out where I recognised these people from (except for Rennie). I do like that in a film as it gets me thinking.

If I have one complaint, it’s that the sequence at the beginning seems out of place and unnecessary, even foolish, since it spoils you slightly to what’s going to happen at the end. And in a way, some of the flashbacks turn out to have obvious conclusions or repercussions, but that’s part of the fun; to be able to say “what an idiot.”

The Wikipedia entry (since I have not yet had time to watch all of the alternate endings) tells me that there are four endings to the film, and the Director’s Cut one (from the sounds of the others) is the one that I prefer by far. It fits the overall tone of the film and makes more sense within context. I wonder why they didn’t go with that ending in the cinema. There are also two sequels to this film which deviate from the plot and might as well be completely unrelated, much like the Highlander movies (I’m only counting Highlanders 3 and 4 here. Highlander 2: The Quickening isn’t worth mentioning).

The Director’s Cut ending, which I watched, might well be one of the most depressing things committed to film if you think about it, like It’s A Wonderful Life gone horribly wrong. And yet in spite of this (or perhaps because of it), the film works. It’s a powerful film that keeps you guessing what’s going to happen next and ramps up the tension. This one is definitely worth investing both your time and money in. Don’t let some stupid butterfly stop you from watching this fantastic movie.

*I did not say pretty! MANLY! MANLY BUTTERFLIES!!

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3 comments on “Know How Butterflies Are Normally Pretty*? This One Isn’t…

  1. James M says:

    I enjoyed reading your review of this. Just out of interest, which of the realities did you enjoy, well maybe that’s not the word, appreciate the most?

    • Scott says:

      My personal favourite was the one where he lost his arms and his girlfriend had gone off with one of his best mates. That put the boot in so hard.

      • James M says:

        Yup, that’s mine also. It’s emotionally tumultuous for Evan, because whilst he’s miserable, his friends are all so happy.

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