The Butterfly Effect
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E dir-scr J Mackye Gruber, Eric Bress
with Ashton Kutcher, Amy Smart, Elden Henson, William Lee Scott, Eric Stoltz, Melora Walters, Ethan Suplee, Callum Keith Rennie, John Patrick Amedori, Jesse James, Logan Lerman, Nathaniel DeVeaux
release US 23.Jan.04, UK 14.Apr.04
04/US 1h53

In the "Frat Boy" reality (above): Kutcher and Smart

smart henson stoltz
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Here's another metaphysical thriller from the guys who wrote Final Destination 2. It's quite scary and disturbing at times, but also somewhat simple-minded and repetitive. And the always-watchable Kutcher is good in his first serious role.

As he grows up, Evan (Lerman, Amedori, then Kutcher) suffers from a series of strange blackouts that leave his memory blank during key events in his life. Now studying psychology in university, he stumbles on an ability to revisit those blackout periods ... and to change things. But this sets off a butterfly effect (the cause-and-effect theory that the flutter of a tiny wing can start a hurricane on the other side of the world) and he wakes up in a changed present reality. Now he's frantically trying to alter the past to create the best possible present. But it seems to just be getting worse. And worse!

The idea is so clever that it completely sucks us in, even though the filmmakers never really bother to dig beneath the surface. It's like Donnie Darko Light--a look at fate and destiny but in a way that won't make you think at all. Kutcher commands the screen and even catches some subtle nuances in both the comic and dramatic scenes, although he can't quite reach the emotional highs or lows. As Evan's childhood pals, Smart, Henson and Scott all get much meatier roles, since their various realities are much more divergent.

As a whole, the film is fascinating enough to keep our interest, even though Gruber and Bress seem far too excited by their ideas to tell a proper story. They can't resist throwing in just one more alternate reality, and then one more, making the film feel too long as it circles around and says the same thing over and over again. Yes, the inventiveness is great fun, but their indulgence exposes them as first-time directors. If they'd have been more ruthless in their story editing, this could have been much stronger. And they'd have had all their other ideas for a spin-off TV series.

cert 15 strong adult themes, violence, language 17.Feb.04

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... The Butterfly Effect Amie, England: 5/5 "The film was really good, Ashton is very sexy and John Patrick Amedori is really cute. The film is weird but very good. If only we could change our past maybe life would be better!" (20.Apr.04)

cheneen casson, england 5/5 "i thought that the film was really gripping, it was intelligent at the same time as being entertaining, good acting all round and the added benifit of john patrick amedory gave it that little some thing extra. brilliant stuff." (25.Sep.04)

2004 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall