July 12, 2004

The Butterfly Effect (Capsule Review)

It’s better than you’ve heard, I think.

The Butterfly Effect takes a sci-fi premise that is somewhat unique and uses it to explore an old genre favorite: the time-travel “what if” scenario. In this case, Ashton Kutcher has been living a life with some ugliness in his past. When that past comes back to haunt him, he discovers an ability to change past events

But (and you won’t be surprised by this at all) no matter how he changes the past, things don’t become perfect. Tweaking the past almost becomes an addiction (perhaps it is the gambling aspect) and Kutcher’s main character descends into a kind of madness.

What’s good about this film is that it aims for creepiness and achieves that with some decent characters woven into a many-sided plot.

The pieces of a jigsaw puzzle are thrown out in front of you at the beginning of the film, and you watch as some of them come together, and are then rearranged. And the ones which are left missing (to add mystery to the plot) are dribbled out to you over the course of the film.

It’s a formula that worked to keep me interested, and I wouldn’t mind seeing more teen-targeted films take that sort of care with the plot.

I saw the director’s cut which, apparently, has a different ending than the theatrical version. From what I read, the ending I saw is quite a bit better, which may explain some of the discrepancy between my opinion and what I expected. The theatrical release had a more crowd-pleasing ending which undermined the story.

Sure, Ashton Kutcher is not the next Ben Kingsley. But give the guy a break. In a movie like this, he doesn’t have to be. It’s aimed at a young crowd, and if you grade on that curve, this movie comes out a real winner. Compared to films like Final Destination this film kicks celluloid.

Posted by James at July 12, 2004 5:10 AM
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