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Eric Bress, J. Mackye Gruber
Ashton Kutcher, Melora Walters, Amy Smart, Elden Henson, William Lee Scott, John Patrick Amedori, Irene Gorovaia, Kevin Schmidt, Jesse James
Writing Credits:
Eric Bress, J. Mackye Gruber

Change one thing, change everything.

A young man struggling to get over disturbing memories from his childhood discovers that he is able to travel back in time and alter events in theipast. However, every change he makes transforms his life and that of those around him, often to unexpected and disastrous consequences.

Box Office:
$13 million.
Opening Weekend
$17.065 million on 2605 screens.
Domestic Gross
$57.650 million.

Rated R

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
German Dolby Digital 5.1 (Theatrical Cut Only)
Latin Spanish
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 113 min. (Theatrical Version)
120 min. (Director’s Cut)
Price: $14.97
Release Date: 7/17/2012

• Both Theatrical and Director’s Cuts
• Audio Commentary With Directors/Writers Eric Bress and J. Mackye Gruber
• infinifilm Fact Track
• “The Science and Psychology of the Chaos Theory” Featurette
• “The History and Allure of Time Travel” Featurette
• “The Creative Process” Featurette
• “Visual Effects” Featurette
• Deleted/Alternate Scenes
• Storyboard Comparisons
• Trailer


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


The Butterfly Effect [Blu-Ray] (2004)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (April 5, 2015)

I suppose the “Butterfly Effect” first got public notice due to its mention in 1993’s Jurassic Park under the umbrella of “Chaos Theory”. As discussed there, the “Butterfly Effect” posits that even something as tiny as the flap of a butterfly’s wings continents away can somehow result in massive occurrences elsewhere.

Since then Chaos Theory popped up in a number of other places and has become much better known, even to the point where The Simpsons parodied the concept way back in 1994. For another look at this form of cause and effect, we head to 2004’s The Butterfly Effect.

Effect starts with a quick scene in which authorities pursue a panicked man (Ashton Kutcher). The movie immediately leaps back 13 years to introduce a seven-year-old version of this guy. Evan Treborn (Logan Lerman) displays signs of schizophrenia, mainly via some blackouts in which the boy presents violent tendencies he later forgets. His mother Andrea (Melora Walters) - who raises him with no help from his apparently mentally ill father Jason (Callum Keith Rennie) - takes him for some evaluations but Evan continues to dissociate at times.

We follow various periods of Evan’s life until he gets to college and studies psychology. He does so largely to understand his episodes and his past. The movie explores these avenues and shows that Evan possesses special abilities that allow him to alter earlier events.

Effect definitely won’t be for everyone, as it indulges in many unpleasant topics. Child abuse, animal cruelty, prison rape, murder, dead babies and suicide are just the tip of the iceberg; you’ll find many other nasty topics as Evan goes through the looking glass again and again.

And good for Effect for pouring on such an unflinching look at things. Some will accuse the movie of being gratuitously graphic and cruel, and you know what? It just might be.

However, it feels appropriate for the film, and I simply admire the movie for not backing away from the various elements of nastiness. The material didn’t seem gratuitous to me, though I can see how some may interpret it that way.

Much of the reason none of it bothered me stemmed from the fact I became so absorbed in the movie. Effect takes a while to build, as the movie’s almost half done before Evan realizes he can go into the past and change things. That may seem like a long time, but all of the set up that occurs prior to Evan’s first journey is absolutely crucial, as it gives us the events that will later enjoy enormous importance.

Once Evan starts to play with the past, the movie definitely kicks into high gear. The second half of Effect becomes something of a rollercoaster ride, as Evan goes on more and more journeys to continually attempt to perfect his life. As dark as these may be, they’re always interesting, even though they often present some real lapses of logic. I forgave those partly because they’re endemic within the genre and also because I enjoyed myself too much to care.

Much venom has been directed toward Kutcher for his work as Evan, but I find these attacks to be unmerited. No, I can’t say he offers a stellar performance, but Kutcher acquits himself much better than one might expect based on his prior work.

Undeniably, Evan is a tough part. Since he goes through so many changes throughout the film, the role requires myriad changes and takes. Kutcher manages to pull these off effectively enough. He doesn’t thrive, but he definitely doesn’t harm the flick.

The Butterfly Effect works because it creates an involving universe and makes sure that we stay interested in it. The story takes off on all sorts of clever and wild tangents that ensure we’ll want to see where things go. And when it finally gets to the end, suffice it to say it takes risks and pays off with an almost shockingly daring and effective conclusion.

Note that this review addresses the director’s cut (1:59:38) of The Butterfly Effect. The Blu-ray also includes the film’s theatrical edition (1:53:45)). Most of the differences come from scenes added to the director’s cut, such as one at a fortune teller. These help expand the subjects and make the DC richer.

The biggest single difference between the theatrical and director’s cuts stems from their endings, as the pair feature completely different conclusions. The finale to the director’s cut is much more daring and also significantly more effective and haunting. I definitely think the director’s cut is the superior version of the film; I’m glad the Blu-ray includes the theatrical edition for those who want it, but I’d never watch it.

The Disc Grades: Picture B/ Audio B+/ Bonus B+

The Butterfly Effect appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This was a mostly appealing presentation.

Sharpness usually appeared good. Some mild softness crept in at times, but not on a consistent basis, so the movie was usually tight and well-defined. No signs of shimmering or jaggies occurred, but a few shots demonstrated light edge haloes. Print flaws remained absent.

Effect featured a stylized palette. At times, colors became intentionally cold and stark, whereas other times, the hues were made to seem oversaturated and dense. The disc handled the various gradations well, as the tones always came across as solid and appropriately defined.

Black levels seemed deep and dark, while shadow detail was clear and sensibly heavy without excessive thickness. Despite a few minor missteps, this was generally a good image.

The Butterfly Effect also offered a positive DTS-HD MA 5.1 experience. The soundfield seemed fairly heavily oriented toward the front spectrum, but it broadened nicely when necessary. The forward channels showed fine stereo imaging for the score, and they also provided a good sense of general atmosphere.

Really, that attitude dominated Effect. Not many scenes featured active use of the surrounds; those elements mostly appeared during Evan’s flashbacks, which became very involving. Instead, the soundtrack more strongly favored a creepy ambience meant to accentuate the movie’s dark tone.

Audio quality appeared good. Dialogue always remained natural and distinct, though a smidgen of edginess occasionally affected the lines. Music seemed bright and vivid, and the score showed solid dynamics and clarity.

Effects also came across as accurate and vibrant, and the whole track evidenced solid low-end response at times. When appropriate, the flick demonstrated a very strong bass punch that lacked any boominess or distortion. Ultimately, the mix for Effect failed to make “A”-level due to its relative lack of multichannel ambition, but the track seemed pleasing nonetheless.

How did the Blu-ray compare to the original DVD? Audio showed greater range, and visuals were tighter and more dynamic. The Blu-ray delivered the expected step up in quality.

The Blu-ray offers all of the DVD’s extras. The Science and Psychology of the Chaos Theory goes for eight minutes, 59 seconds as it combines video bits to illustrate concepts as well as interviews. We hear from Cal Tech University Professor of Physics Dr. Peter Goldreich, and psychotherapists Dr. John D. Biroc and Constance Kaplan. They discuss the concepts of Chaos Theory as well as its history and offer some examples and the way it works on people. The show provides a soundbite look at the subject, but it seems reasonably informative and interesting.

After this we get The History and Allure of Time Travel. This 13-minute, 24-second piece presents comments from Kaplan, Biroc, Michael Pogorzelski of the Academy Film Archive, and AFI’s Ken Wlaschin. They go into the reasons people take interest in time travel tales as well as examples of those sorts of flicks over the years. They get into details of the genre and provide a decent history of the genre. It’s another basic but good program. (Someone needs to tell Wlaschin that his “favorite” time travel flick isn’t called Bill and Ted’s Exciting Adventure, though.)

We also locate a fact track. This text commentary uses the subtitle area as it provides small factoids that appeared throughout the flick. It covers subjects connected to areas of the film. For example, we learn about psychiatry and time travel in movies, the effects of smoking, the length of a pig’s orgasm and mourning rituals, among other topics.

The material seems sporadically interesting, but the factoids don’t pop up frequently. I doubt many people will want to try to attend to the film itself and read the fact track at the same time, as it could become very distracting. On the other hand, if you check out the movie just to examine the subtitles, you’ll feel irritated by the infrequent use of the feature. Chalk this up as a fairly weak text commentary.

Now we head to an audio commentary from directors/writers Eric Bress and J. Mackye Gruber, both of whom sit together for a running, screen-specific chat. Clearly excited about the process, the pair prove lively and engaging. They go into topics that mostly focus on filmmaking elements like visual design and sound elements.

You’ll learn that “Miller Red” isn’t a kind of beer, as they point out the symbolism and use of color throughout the movie, and they also get into other ways they manipulate visuals to work for the flick. In addition, we learn about the variations between the director’s cut as well as plenty of notes from the set such as working with actors both leading and minor. A bit too much praise for the people and product pops up, but overall, this feels like an entertaining and informative piece.

Another featurette, The Creative Process runs 17 minutes, 50 seconds as it presents the usual mix of archival materials, movie snippets and interviews. We find notes from Bress, Gruber, producers AJ Dix and Chris Bender, director of photography Matthew F. Leonetti, and actors Ashton Kutcher, Eric Stoltz, Melora Walters and Amy Smart.

We hear about how Bress and Gruber connected, origins of the story and its path to the screen, various impressions of the tale, its subject matter, pre-production issues, storyboarding, casting and the actors’ approaches to their roles, the directors’ approach, shooting in a real prison, and fight choreography and stunts.

Though “Process” covers many subjects, it doesn’t offer much depth. A lot of happy talk appears, as we hear how great the directors and actors are. The various subjects fly by so quickly that most issues get reduced to soundbites. Some good tidbits still appear, but this remains a somewhat lackluster and disjointed show.

Next we learn about the flick’s Visual Effects. In this 16-minute, five-second program, we discover info from Bress, Gruber, Leonetti, visual effects supervisor Ralph Maiers, and visual effects coordinator Christopher Elke. They chat about the time-travel visuals, the “butterfly effect”, different visual concepts and their evolution, memory flashes, making Kutcher armless, explosions, and a few other elements. This show presents greater detail than usual for this format, as it gets into the different areas pretty well. It covers most of the topics nicely, and the inclusion of shots that depict the many stages of the effects help make this a solid program.

Within the Storyboard Gallery, we get a compendium of 11 sequences. These run as side-by-side comparisons, with the boards on the left and the final movie on the right. All together, they run seven minutes and eight seconds. These don’t do much for me, but the presentation seems fine.

In addition to the film’s trailer, we also find a collection of nine deleted/alternate scenes. When viewed via the “Play All” option, they fill six minutes, 33 seconds. One offers an alternate take of a scene, while some others provide minor additions. The most intriguing clips are the two unused endings. These provide slightly sunnier variations on the conclusion featured in the theatrical version and don’t resemble the conclusion seen in the director’s cut at all.

We can watch the deleted/alternate scenes with or without commentary from Bress and Gruber. They provide some decent details about the snippets and usually tell us why the bits got the boot. Unsurprisingly, the comments about the alternate endings provide the most interesting moments.

Critics mostly savaged The Butterfly Effect when it hit theaters, but I frankly don’t see why. I thought the movie was clever, engaging, and daring, as it presented a dark and evocative look at the perils of tampering with the past. The Blu-ray brings us good picture and audio as well as a satisfying set of supplements. I like Butterfly Effect and recommend this Blu-ray.

To rate this film visit the original review review of THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT

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