The Butterfly Effect is a landmark film. It marks Ashton Kutchers only good performance outside of That 70’s Show. Ashton is not usually a very god actor, but he does a great job here. Some people are turned off from the movie, thinking that Ashton Kutcher isn’t able to do a dramatic performance, but he does manage a solid performance here.
The concept and story of the Butterfly Effect is very complicated. The difficult script is handled intelligently and the story is incredibly strong. There are a few little plot-holes but they are completely forgivable. Mostly just simple things that the character could have done differently. Here’s an example SPOILER ALERT in the reality where he is a college fratboy and he has the girl and everything is practically perfect, except for the fact that he kills Tommy which lands him in prison. So there is no reason why after he gets things settled and goes to the reality after the prison that he can’t have another go. In the logic set up by the movie he should be able to go back to that reality and try it again, and this time he just doesn’t kill Tommy. He knows that Tommy is there now, so he could get the police, or restrain himself, or even just walk a different way and everything would be all set and hunky dory from then on. Another moment that always annoyed me was when he was in the prison and he makes the marks appear on his hands to convince his cellmate to help him. He makes marks appear in the center of his hands by going back to when he was a little kid and stabbing his hands on something in the classroom. So there are a couple of problems here, first off I think that if in the middle of a class a kid stabbed himself in the hands something different would happen. The movie is about how little tiny actions can change everything, and I would call impaling your hands a pretty f*cking big action. I think that would change the course of his life and he would end up somewhere different than in the prison, and the big thing is that even if he did still end up in the prison, the marks wouldn’t have just suddenly, in this reality the marks would have been there since he was a child and thus the cellmate wouldn’t see anything different. END SPOILER. These little things don’t take too much away from the movie. As long as you don’t think about it too much. Time travel movies almost always have little plot holes and inconsistencies so just don’t think too much about it.
The acting it very good overall. Ashton Kutcher actually gives a very good performance and the rest of the cast is great for the most part. Amy Smart does a fine job, but her younger counterpart actually steals the show from her. For a young actress, her performance is great. The character is very dark and tormented but she pulls it off in a nice subtle way. The actress, Irene Gorovaia ended her career after this film. She did two films before the butterfly effect and none afterwards. She went on to be a dancer so, follow your dreams I guess, if that is what she really wanted to do. The guy who plays Evan at age 13 does a great job as well, unfortunately the same can not be said for the youngest tier of actors. There are 3 ages for most characters. There’s college, high school, and elementary school. The youngest group of actors for the elementary school age is definitely the weakest. The only one that really has a big part at this age is Evan and this actor is terrible. His expressions and line readings are always way off target. He makes light of very dark situation and is very bad. He completely took me out of the movie. Upon doing research for this review I found out that the same kid also played the son in 3:10 to Yuma and he was dreadful in that as well. This guy is a bad actor.
One particularly strange thing i noticed is that in the credits there is an actor credited as playing “Evan at 3” and there is no point in the movie where we see Evan at age, not even in the directors cut. to make matters just a little bit weirder the actor, J. Jackson Kocela, has no picture on IMDB nor does he have any other acting credits. I was unable to find any outside information on the guy other than the Butterfly Effect credit. It’s a strange little mystery.
There is some twisted subject material in this film. The Butterfly Effect deals with some heavy elements. Here’s a quick rundown on some of the most disturbing and messed up moments in the movie. SPOILER Child Pornography/pedophilia, dog burning, a woman and her baby being killed, a little girl being blown up, a man becoming a quadriplegic, prison rape, child murder, and in the director’s cut there is a fetus committing suicide. Yeah there is a lot of twisted depraved subject matter crammed into this not terribly long movie. It’s only 113 minutes long and with all that scarring material in there you could potentially be traumatized every couple of minutes.
All the messed up material is handled very maturely. The directors understood perfectly that sometimes what is implied is more effective than what is blatantly shown. A perfect example of this is when the mother and child are blown up. There is an explosive in a mailbox and the mother and child are approaching. The situation is intense enough just from that, but it really comes to a head when you see the baby’s hand grasp the edge of the mailbox. They don’t need to show the explosion. We just cut to a shot of the kids reacting as one of the harshest explosions can be heard from off screen resulting in a quick flash. That is good film making.
The Butterfly Effect is a very competent film. The script is fantastic but it is not airtight. There are little inconsistencies, character errors, and plot holes, but most of those can be forgiven. The Butterfly Effect is highly engrossing and a very very god movie. It’s not much of a horror film, more of a thriller, but it is certainly disturbing. The first I watched the movie Eric Stoltz creeped me out. The second time around not so much, but his character is still messed up. The Butterfly Effect is a great film and i highly recommend it.