The Butterfly Effect

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A butterfly flaps its wings… and headaches ensue.

Jun 19, 2005 (Updated Jul 14, 2005)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review
  • User Rating: Disappointing

  • Bang For The Buck

Pros:A few seconds of good acting, an attempt at an interesting story

Cons:Most of the acting, the story, the style, and a lot of the writing

The Bottom Line: A pretentious film with a complete lack of substance.


Note: This review is about the theatrical release only; I haven’t seen the Director’s Cut.

I never bothered to watch The Butterfly Effect in the theater. I never bothered to rent it. I really never had much of an interest in watching it at all. But people kept telling me that I should give it a chance, I might like it. So I did. And I didn’t, like it that is.

The Butterfly Effect is about Evan, a young man with the ability to travel in time through his memories. Throughout his life Evan has blacked out at important points in his history. In college, seven years after his last blackout, Evan discovers that by reading the journals that he kept from the age of seven he can go back to the times that he blacked out and manipulate the past. But each thing he changes in the past has unforeseen consequences in his present. Some of those effects include (all shown in the trailer) going to prison, having his girlfriend turn into a junky, and giving himself a tumor.

Part of the reason I never had an interest in seeing this movie to begin with has to do with that plot. I’ve seen time travel movies before. I’ve heard the philosophizing about the danger of changing the past. I saw a really cool movie about wacky time travel and alternate universes called Donnie Darko. I didn’t need to see The Butterfly Effect. However, that being said, if the movie was good I probably would have still really liked it. I’ve seen movies with less than original plots that were still really good. And The Butterfly Effect’s plot did have plenty of original elements.

Really, when you get right down to it, the movie just wasn’t good. It’s writing wasn’t anything spectacular, the acting was mediocre, and the cinematography was plagued by an overabundance of flashy style that is so common in current Hollywood movies. In particular, there were several things that just really bugged me.

For one thing, I just really didn’t like the inclusion of most of the events that Evan felt like he had to go back and change. I mean, they were so terrible of course he had to go back and change them! They just didn’t feel necessary. I thought it would have been much more interesting if the things Evan wanted to change were mundane. We all have things in our past that we’re less than proud of and would probably like to change, Evan’s past didn’t need to be so extreme. Plus, I felt like all of those terrible things were added just for the sake of having something terrible there. The movie wasn’t dealing with heavy issues; it just had heavy issues thrown in. I have no problem watching a movie about something serious if there’s a point for the issue being raised, I don’t like it when something serious is exploited for the sole purpose of making a plot seem edgy or deep.

I’ve also heard people either complaining about or applauding the acting. Personally, I didn’t go in one direction or the other. The acting wasn’t amazing but it wasn’t terrible either. No one person stuck out as being particularly good or not. Really, the only thing that stood out to me at all was a scene between Evan (at seven) and his father. In that particular scene I thought the acting was actually pretty good, it was well written, and it created an interesting moment in the film. Otherwise the film just felt bland.

I also wasn’t all that amazed by the cinematography. As with the emptiness behind the heavy additions to the plot, there was emptiness behind its look. It was flashy for the sake of being flashy.

When I watch a film, I come in with certain expectations. If I go in expecting brainlessness, then I’m fine with brainlessness. But if I go in expecting substance, then I want substance. I don’t want the pretense of substance.

So I’m told that the Director’s Cut of The Butterfly Effect is much better. Honestly, I have even less of an interest in watching it than I had of watching any version of this movie to begin with. If my only problem had been with plot holes then I could see the attraction of the Director’s Cut. But when my problem was with the plot, the acting, the writing, and the style, then, well, I see no point in wasting anymore of my time.



Recommend this product? No


Worst Part of this Film: Plot

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