The Butterfly Effect


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The Butterfly Effect
The Masked Reviewer

Kootchie Kootchie Kutscher!  The Demi-dating hunk-du-jour Aston Kutscher stars in this sci-fi thriller.  You may remember him from Dude, Where's My Car?  But, with any luck, you won't remember him from that, and you'll go see this movie.  Why?  Because he's Kutscheriffic as a time-travelling destiny-changer.

Yes, the Masked Reviewer mentioned that time travel happens in this movie.  It's sort of a sci-fi movie, but they don't really get into the boring details of how he can go back in time.  He just can.  He's special.  The film takes its name from a Ray Bradbury short story, "A Sound of Thunder."  In it, a man goes back in time but is told he can't touch or interact with anything, because it could change the past.  If he kills a mouse, the mouse he kills might have had 10 babies, which each would have had 10 other babies, and those mice might have fed a fox which instead starved to death, and over millions of years (they travelled back 60 million years in the Bradbury story), it could have huge implications.  The guy in the story accidentally steps on a butterfly, and there are huge changes.  Well, maybe not HUGE changes.  All we see in the story is that spelling gets worse and a different guy becomes President of the U.S., but the point is the smallest change  in the past can make things happen in the future.

You may also remember this plot from "The Simpsons", episode #2F03, "Treehouse of Terror V", in the segment called "Time and Punishment."  Homer builds a time machine out of his toaster and goes back in time several times to make things better.  It's also similar to the TV show "Quantum Leap" and has been a theme in many "Star Trek" episodes.

They do a good job with the "time travel to change your destiny" theme; the film feels like a cross between a "Twilight Zone" episode and a watered-down version of The Ring.  Actually, it's a bit more like Gothika than The Ring, but not many people saw Gothika. 

Amy Smart co-stars with Aston Kutscher, as do a number of child actors who get quite a bit of screen time (a lot of the film takes place in the various time periods).  The Masked Reviewer would like to point out that this is nothing like Timeline, which blew proverbial monkey chunks.  In fact, perhaps because Timeline is the last time-travel-changing-your-destiny themed movie in recent memory, The Butterfly Effect may seem better than it really is by comparison. 

There are a number of events that take place in the movie that will offend some people: there's murder.  There's child molestation.  There's drug use.  There's prostitution.  There're bloody noses.  There's nudity.  There's pre-marital sex.  There's even hazing.  Oh, and a dog is burned alive. it?  You never can tell, since the Masked Reviewer doesn't spoil anything for you.  Or...does he? 

Aston Kutscher, who also served as Executive Producer, gave a very satisfying performance, though he's probably on-screen only half the time.  He brings some depth to a character which is new ground for him...and while he also brings levity and humor to his role, he pulls off the serious stuff well.  That is, of course, until a climactic scene where he's on the run for his life, and he does a cartoonish "sneaky run" that would earn him an immediate appointment to the Ministry of Silly Walks

Eric Stoltz plays a creepy guy.  If he really is creepy in real life, he's almost certainly more creepy in this film. 

They don't really deal with the science issues in the film, like time-traveling paradoxes or how he can go back in time, and that will be frustrating to the sci-fi nerds among us.  They also miss out on a few opportunities for some mind blowing twists, which can't be discussed without blowing the story, but they didn't do them anyway.

All in all, surprisingly fun to watch.


Expectation from the Title: A movie about how the flitting flight patterns of delicate winged creatures can change our lives...for the better.

Mother's Rule (Always Say Something Good About Everything):  Eric Stoltz plays a bad, bad man.  Aston Kutscher seems like a nice young man.

The Pros: Good sci-fi story, very twilightzonish.  Some scary parts in the first half, but intriguing all the way through.  There are a couple of moments of brief nudity.

The Cons: Some missed opportunities for cool plot twists, a few predictable moments.

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