The Butterfly Effect DVD Review

Everyone has those moments in their lives they want to go back and fix. For instance, once while sitting front row at a wrestling event, I sat down and my cheap wooden chair shattered, sending me clear to the floor in front of a few thousand people. Yeah, I want that back. Evan Treborn has a few bigger issues than that he has to deal with in the "Butterfly Effect," a unique thriller based off some real scientific theories.

Treborn (Ashton Kutcher) blacks out during some rather awful moments in his life. When he comes back, he cannot recall anything that happened. As he grows up, he learns that by reading a journal he kept since he was seven, he actually has the ability to change what happened on that day. Unfortunately, it doesn't just change him, but everyone else's lives around him, sometimes with disastrous results.

As with any time travel film, the plot holes are huge if you stop to think. "Butterfly Effect" doesn't really give you that time. It's relentlessly paced, especially as the climax nears and things really start falling apart for Evan. It's intriguing to think just how one act, regardless of how important it may have seemed, can change everything. That's interesting enough to draw you in early and keep you right where the filmmakers want you.

Really the key to enjoyment here is the ending. Depending on which version you watch (this disc has two, the director's cut sporting an alternate ending and six additional minutes), the ending has a completely different feel. The director's cut is atypical of the usual Hollywood fluff and it works so much better. It keeps with the rather dark edge of the film and it's a refreshing change from the norm.

Kutcher is fine in this role, though many others have bashed his performance. He looks terrified when he finally realizes what exactly it is he can do and not much else is required. It makes the absurd yet engaging premise as believable as it can be.

Of course, the entire film does rely on whether or not you can buy into it early. If you read the back of the case and roll your eyes, you should know better. If it sounds interesting in the least, then this is a must see film. (**** out of *****)

New Line's Inifilm discs are usually top of the line in every area. Not so with "The Butterfly Effect." This is nothing short of a ridiculous transfer, ignoring some of the intended problems. Most of the film is set in an extremely high color tone, way past the point of over saturation. That's intentional. Not set by the filmmakers is the ludicrous amount of noise in both the backgrounds and on the actors. It's very heavy throughout the entire running time and never lets up. It doesn't seem that bad during the penitentiary scenes (it almost fits right in), but the rest of the film can be hard to watch at times. (**)

As always, the sound options are phenomenal, including a 5.1 EX and a super-rare DTS ES 6.1 mix. When the audio gets a chance to work (basically during the time travel sequences) it's great. Voices fly around the sound field, the LFE gets plenty of work, and it all follows the camera movement. There are a few minor instances during the rest of the film that show off some nice separation in both mixes, although it's fairly standard stuff the rest of the time. (****)

All of the special features are contained on the director's cut of this dual-sided disc. Things start off with a commentary from the co-directors, Eric Bress and J. Mackye Gruber. Again, they only comment on the director's cut. The theatrical release is left unspoken on.

The first feature is a 9-minute glimpse into the actual science of the Butterfly Effect called "Science and Chaos Theory." It's all in plain English, explaining the basics and providing examples in case you still don't understand. It gives the movie a slight basis in reality.

"History and Allure: Time Travel" spends thirteen minutes with the concept of moving through time while giving a short history on movies that feature the topic. Some movies, like "Back to the Future," are dissected. It also covers just why people find the concept so fascinating. It's well worth watching after the film is over. The "Fact Track" is a usual Inifilm feature that subtitles the film with oddball facts about the current scene along with other pertinent information.

"Creative Process" is the longest featurette clocking in just short of 18-minutes. It's mostly owned by the directors who discuss the idea, how it came about, how to execute it, etc. They also talk about how personal the film is to them. Good stuff, much like all the extras here.

"Visual Effects" is one of those self-explanatory little features. Sixteen minutes are spent explaining how the time wipes came to be (including a few examples of what didn't work) and other assorted shots. Discussing those would be spoilers. Five deleted scenes clock in at about 3-minutes and have an alternate commentary track if desired. The set rounds off with a storyboard gallery, DVD-ROM stuff, and a trailer. (****)

The movie could be based on a story by Ray Bradbury (soon to be a movie in itself) called "The Sound of Thunder." There, a group travels back in time to the dinosaur era, step on a butterfly, and all sorts of stuff goes wrong in present day. It's the same basic premise here, just focusing on one person.

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