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153 of 170 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Don't Listen to the Critics - Good Movie
Because most of the critics slammed this movie, I went to see it expecting a lot less than I got. I thought the movie was fine: rich plot, good pacing, intense drama, and solid performances by all of the actors. Ashton Kutcher, who has a great screen presence (I've never seen him before; don't watch much TV) played the role with just the right degrees of intensity,...
Published on February 4, 2004 by Louis Barbarelli

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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars intriguing, time-bending thriller
***1/2 Have you ever wondered how differently your life might have turned out had you taken a left turn instead of a right on the day of that fateful accident, or chosen a different college or career path, or not gone to that dance the night you met your one true love? All of us have played this "what if" game at some point in our lives, speculating about where we might...
Published on August 4, 2004 by Roland E. Zwick


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153 of 170 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Don't Listen to the Critics - Good Movie, February 4, 2004
By 
Louis Barbarelli (San Francisco, CA USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Because most of the critics slammed this movie, I went to see it expecting a lot less than I got. I thought the movie was fine: rich plot, good pacing, intense drama, and solid performances by all of the actors. Ashton Kutcher, who has a great screen presence (I've never seen him before; don't watch much TV) played the role with just the right degrees of intensity, bewiderment, and desperation. Amy Smart's performance fluctuated convincingly from loyal lover, to air-headed ingenue, to hardened prostitute, etc. And I loved the way the other supporting characters changed personalities with time shifts.
The kid actors looked very much like their adult counterparts, especially in Kutcher's case, so that the constant transitions between pre-teen, teen, and adult versions of the characters were very smooth... this was important to keep the audience suspending its disbelief.
The screenplay delved into taboo subjects fearlessly, which I think added to its richness and made it all the more riveting.
Most of the critics didn't like this film, and I suspect a lot of that has to do with their personal disdain of Kutcher. That's neither relevant nor fair. Roger Ebert tried to be fair in his review and did say some good things about the movie, but he was bothered a lot by the inexplicably artistic quality of the drawing and the note-lettering penned by the Kutcher character. I agree that this high quality this was kind of odd, since the character was never portrayed as an artist, but I think that's a minor detail that detracted only slightly from one's enjoyment of the movie. Overall, Butterfly Effect was a handsomely-filmed, "sci-fi" movie that didn't rely on special effects to hold my interest and entertain me. It was a great ride. What more could the critics want?
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100 of 111 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "You were happy once... with me.", July 10, 2004
By 
Michael Crane (Orland Park, IL USA) - See all my reviews
While "The Butterfly Effect" wasn't critically acclaimed or well loved by everyone, I thought it was a pretty good movie when I first saw it at the theatres. It was a dark and completely disturbing film that made me want to look away at times, but at the same time I was very intrigued. My only problem was the ending. I thought it really contradicted the whole theme of the movie, but I always suspected that the so-called "happy ending" was forced upon since the movie is so dark and hard to watch that they thought there was no way people would like it if a more darker and depressing ending were added. Well, now you get to see the director's cut of the film that's on this very DVD, which offers the superior ending.
Evan had terrible blackouts when he was little, very much like his father. He would blackout during terrible situations and not remember anything. That's when it was suggested to him that he keep a journal to see if he could remember what happened during those blackouts. When Evan is all grown up, still haunted by his terrible past that had blanketed him and his friends, he discovers that he can relive those memories when he reads his entries. He can view it like a movie and finally see what had happened during his blackouts. Not only that, but he has the power to even alter those moments. Determined to fix the pasts of him and his friends, he relives those memories and tries to fix them so they will all have a better future. However, when he tries to change one thing, it leads to devastating results that he could have never foreseen. As the cover says, "Change one thing... change EVERYTHING."
I found this film to be very interesting and complex, even though I felt that the film itself was not perfect. The movie is very hard to watch at times, so it's not recommended for those who don't like being disturbed or who are extremely sensitive to such matters. I think it has a smart storyline and great acting. Believe it or not, Ashton Kutcher is able to act in a serious role. I didn't even recognize him at first, but he really pulled it off. He was able to convince me that he was in fact "Evan," as he played the role with determination and force.
As I said in the beginning, my major problem with the movie had always been the ending. While it was happy and nice to see that things worked out considering the absolute hell this movie can put you through, I still found the ending to be contradictive and a "cop-out." Now, all of that's changed as you are given the choice to either watch the theatrical version, OR the director's cut. The director's cut offers a few more extra minutes that adds more substance to the story (including an interesting find) and a more appropriate ending. If you were to ask me which version is better, I'd say that the director's cut is without any hesitation The new ending does a better job of fitting in with the theme of the movie and doesn't contradict the film as the theatrical ending does. The DVD also offers "infinifilm" features that give you a deeper insight to the movie itself. Extras included are commentary, documentaries, storyboard galleries and much more. I must say that the film looks great, and also sounds fantastic as well.
"The Butterfly Effect" proves to be an even stronger film with the director's cut version, even if it's still not a perfect movie. If you're looking for something a little more darker and sinister than your regular picks, then this is something to consider. Just remember that this movie does not let you off easy. It's brutal and extremely disturbing. If you're daring and think you can handle it, then pick this up and prepare for one unforgettable and chilling ride. -Michael Crane
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44 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A total mind blower., January 2, 2004
I saw a screening of this movie and as much as I expected to be non-plussed at best, it was amazing. Like a cross between Memento and a dark It's A Wonderful Life, the movie plays with time, reality, and the greatest "What if?" that there's ever been.
Ashton Kutcher plays Evan, a college student who can relive gnarly past events and in doing so, change the present. The outcome is always a surprising set of consequences. I don't want to say too much about the movie because I sincerely believe this is one of those few movies where you shouldn't know too much. While a number of movies have played with time travel (Terminator, Back to the Future, Etc...) this one does it with a gritty slickness that is truly different and very unpredictable.
People will definately be surprised at Kutcher's performance and this movie is an inarguable breakthrough for him as a dramatic actor. Amy Smart shows her dramatic chops as well, after doing comedic roles in Rat Race and Road Trip. It's kind of a dream role, in that she gets to play four characters in one movie, each one multi-dimensional and vastly diverse from the previous ones. I read that Eldon Henson, dropped and gained 30 pounds for his various roles as well. I think it demonstrates the dedication that the actors put into the project and it certainly pays off on screen.
It's an incredibly thought provoking concept with all these cool set ups and payoffs along the way. I was surprised by how violent it was at times, but it worked for the story and I'm not turned off by that kinda thing. By far one of the best movies I've seen this year and deserves some sort of critical acclaim even though it comes out at a time of year when movies are for the most part forgotten.
See this movie and you'll get your money's worth. I'm probably going to have to see it again because, like films like The Sixth Sense, it should be even cooler the second time around when you know the secrets.
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27 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Probably best watched alone, without biases., February 2, 2004
By 
Before I go on to describe why I liked this movie, I should explain right away that this is mostly a rebuttal of what the critics say. I think that this movie has received an unfair amount of criticism and I want to rebut some of the main points people have brought up.
Firstly, if you go into the movie expecting Kutcher to suck in his role, then he probably will as far as you are concerned. It is tough to accept him as a dramatic lead, I admit, but if you try to not let his past interfere with your judgement, then it will free you to focus on the movie itself (something that very few mainstream critics seem to have done seriously).
Secondly, if you watch this with the wrong group of people, then its mood changes drastically. I saw it in a crowded theater full of people who either came in expecting a comedy or were just planning to trash it. What happened was that I really enjoyed the movie, but many others complained constantly. Because this opened up the floor for criticism, many others joined in--this is an effect you can see frequently in any event where there are a lot of people. If everybody's laughing, then you are tempted to laugh. So, I reccommend that you try to see this only with an audience that you know will take it seriously, because otherwise it will ruin your enjoyment of the film.
"The Butterfly Effect" is a lot like other major science-fiction movies from the past in that it tries out a lot of new things and worries only about the elements it was created to serve. A good comparison brings to my mind the movie "Dark City," which received very little praise or attention during its initial release. Both movies expect you to care for the characters without spending a great deal of time building them up. Both movies are more focused on answering the question, "What if?" and then trying to create a world where strange possibilities can be discovered.
The movie has been criticized for being overly violent and too melodramatic. Too violent? Not so. Melodramatic? Not really, although I'll grant you that one or two points are a bit heavy-handed. Extremely disturbing? Yes.
The violent content within is not exploitative in anyway--what it does is provides extreme environments for the "butterfly effect" theme to work with. The concept of the film is based on how much would change if you fixed one mistake in the past. To make these changes more interesting, the filmmakers have come up with some extreme material. For example, early in the film two of the main characters are sexually abused as children. By changing this event, the characters lives become drastically different. If Kutcher's character had instead went back in time and changed an event such as, say, his first hair cut, then there would probably not be a huge change in his life. So, the movie wouldn't be very interesting, nor would it explore the "What if" question very well.
In the end, this movie is about ideas and exploration. It is a great movie because it heavily explores the concept of time travel and its effects on the future. It is not a movie for everyone, but I have a feeling that many people who would like it are going to be scared away (probably by the presence of Kutcher, who does a respectable job).
I found it very clever, exciting, and thoroughly enjoyable. The acting is great all around and it is the first true thinking-man's (or -woman's) film I've seen for several years. Ultimately, though, I think it will find its audience on DVD and video. I can only hope, because it's a gem from our era.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars intriguing, time-bending thriller, August 4, 2004
By 
***1/2 Have you ever wondered how differently your life might have turned out had you taken a left turn instead of a right on the day of that fateful accident, or chosen a different college or career path, or not gone to that dance the night you met your one true love? All of us have played this "what if" game at some point in our lives, speculating about where we might be, whom we might know and what we might be doing now if even a single event in our past had played out differently. And how many of us would be willing to return to a key moment in our past if we knew that, by doing something different, we could forever alter the path our life ended up taking? And what if we discovered that by undoing that event we ended up altering our lives and the lives of those around us in ways we never expected? Would we still want to do it?

This is the premise for "The Butterfly Effect," an effectively creepy supernatural thriller that boasts a star-making performance by Ashton Kutcher. Kutcher plays Evan Treborn, a young man in college who, since his childhood, has been suffering inexplicable blackouts at key traumatic moments in his life. And traumatic his life has been! His father is consigned to a mental institution, suffering from an ailment that may have been passed on to his son. In addition, Evan is friends with a young girl, Kayley, whose father sexually abuses not only her but Evan as well. Kayley also has a sadistic little brother named Lenny, who inspires Evan, Kayley and a neighbor friend of theirs to perform malicious pranks and even sets Evan's dog on fire. Now that he's in college, Evan discovers he has the power to transport himself back in time to many of these key moments in his life in an attempt to rewrite history and undo the mental and psychological damage they've caused. The trouble is that Evan finds out that changing the course of history often brings a whole host of other unforeseen and unanticipated problems right along with it.

Directors Eric Bress and J. Mackye Gruber have fashioned a complex, intricate screenplay filled with plot twists that continually alter the plane of the film's reality. The story hurtles us back and forth in time, showing us what was, what is and then what might have been without a moment's confusion, all the while making us question whether Evan isn't simply insane after all. There are a few, perhaps inevitable, plot holes, the most glaring of which is why Evan is unable to find out how a prank he and his friends committed in their childhood turned tragically wrong (Evan blacked out during the event). Considering the fact that the tragedy was one that became common knowledge in the small town in which Evan lived, it is highly implausible that he would have to wait till his early `20's before he finally found out what had happened. In addition, one might question the propriety of using a topic as sensitive as pedophilia for a supernatural thriller. Still, those are minor quibbles for a story that works remarkably well at keeping itself credible and focused despite the inherent absurdity at its core.

Kutcher does an effective job carrying the film. By not being too handsome or too heroic, Kutcher keeps Evan life-sized and interesting. We're willing to follow him through this elaborate labyrinth because we can identify with the truths of his character. He's a young man who genuinely wants to make things better for the people he cares for, yet the mental anguish he is going through as he attempts to piece together some semblance of comprehensible reality from the jumbled fragments of his life comes through loud and clear.

"The Butterfly Effect" is not your usual mind-numbing, schlock thriller. It has intelligence and style and a very intriguing storyline. It will probably get you rewinding some of those key events in your own life, wondering might have been.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars creepy..., July 17, 2004
By 
Tristan "tmanx4" (Dexter, Mo, United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Kutcher's performance was very realistic and believable. He really was using mannerisms that we see in other people in day to day life in his performance. Perhaps that's why the movie was panned- him being in shows critics percieve as "teenybopper" and then coming off as so casual.Some reviewers mentioned various interpretations of the film. Check out the director's cut, listen to the narration. They spell out their intent and maybe that will fill in some holes.There really weren't a lot of "holes" in the script. Obviously you have to be accepting of the premise, but once you accept the main premise it flows nicely. There were a few goofy things that divert attention for a second, mainly caused by budget and time constraints. Like a scene that's set at night but is clearly filmed at dawn. The directors fess up in their narration and to similar occurences. Prosthetic beard at one point after Kutcher shaved. A few lines that just don't jibe, then you find out they let Kutcher ad lib them.Other than those minor knocks, I'd have to warn some people that if they don't like creepy movies like Jacob's Ladder, this probably isn't their bag.The director's cut is even creepier, that's the one I watched and I understand the ending was different in the theater. The ending I watched was almost sickeningly creepy and sad (but not gory), so the movie can be a downer for some.But for those who do like this type of movie, I give it 5 stars because these good and creepy psychological thrillers are basically once every two year finds.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mind-Blowing Thriller, July 15, 2004
The Butterfly Effect is a stunning thriller about a young man(Ashton Kutcher) who discovers he has the psychic power to literally relive his childhood traumatic memories. Obsessed with getting things right between him and his girlfriend in the present, Kutcher just keeps making things worse, to the growing horror and fascination of the viewer.
Kutcher's dark and powerful performance is a far cry from his That 70's Show. One look into his dark, haunted eyes tells you that you will see this young man again on the big screen.
The Butterfly Effect is most profound in the implications it has for our own lives, and the lives of those you love. This movie has one of the most powerful and moving endings ever.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Brutal, uncompromising art, August 21, 2004
By 
Jon Thompson (Van Nuys, CA United States) - See all my reviews
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This is one of those films that was, in essense, ruined in the interests of a studios hopes of making it "commercial". As such it provides a good lesson to every filmmaker as well as every fan of cinema.

I originally saw the theatrical release version and although I found it thought-provoking it seemed to dissolve in the end quite unsatisfyingly.

Then I got the DVD Director's cut release. Having already seen it the way the studio wanted I watched the Director's cut. And I was completely floored. Not only did the admitedly minor changes (the addition of a few short scenes in the body of the film and an entirely different ending) completely alter the point of the film it elevated it from merely another creepy science fiction foray into the world of "time travel" and into the realm of, what I consider, art.

My recommendation for those who have not seen this film would be:

1. Watch the "theatrical release" version (it's on one side of the disk) first.

2. Wait a little while, say a week.

3. Watch the "director's cut" side. (Feel free to fast forward through sequences that look familiar)

For me this was a rare case where something I thought I had seen and understood was totally changed because of finally seeing the director's vision (rather than what the studio hoped would make it successful.) I had an emotional reaction to the director's cut similar to that I experienced upon first seeing the ending of "Sixth Sense"... despite the fact that I'd already seen the theatrical release version of this film. And isn't that what we go to movies for in the first place?

One WARNING:

This is not an easy film to "enjoy". It is about as far from a "feel good" experience as you can get. Indeed, it vaguely reminded me of helplessly watching a puppy being methodically beaten to death. It is brutal, disheartening, depressing and never seems to let up despite the best intentions of the main character. But then art isn't always necessarily "pretty". What it tells you is sometimes what you do not want to hear. That is definitely the case with this film.

Perhaps that's why so many people absolutely hated this film. It's not easy to watch and can be quite disturbing. If you want something merely entertaining, look elsewhere.

But if you found yourself one of the rare fans of "Unbreakable", because (rather than in spite) of the fact that it didn't live up to any pre-concieved expectations you might have had, then do see "The Butterfly Effect".

I think in years to come the Director's cut will be more greatly appreciated for what it is... unique.
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22 of 26 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Import Blu-Ray Limiting, February 13, 2009
By 
SRFireside "ZOOM!" (Houston, TX United States) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
The Butterfly Effect is a pretty cerebral science fiction movie that seems like it's pretending to be one of those trendy MTV-styled thrillers. On the surface you have Ashton Kutcher and other good looking kids going from scene to scene with cool music in the background and such... which is fine for bringing in that crowd. What I really liked about the movie were the questions that it was raising about Ashton's character and what he can do: if you can go back and change your past what implications would come of it? The Butterfly Effect pulls this off almost perfectly.

The movie spends a fair amount of time in the beginning establishing Evan's (Ashton) life as a youth and all of the serious problems he faced. This is some intense stuff. You really get pulled down in the mud in these scenes and get a good idea of how messed up Evan's life was and how much he had to overcome to get to Ashton's age. By then his need to change his past, along with his ability to, gets the movie started to the point. Is this beginning long and drawn out? Does it pull you too far from the direction the movie ultimately goes? No way. While it does go off on a tangent of sorts that's exactly what you need.

The rest of the film deals with his jumping back and forth to his past, trying to change it for the better, and having to deal with the results. This is the meat of the movie and this is where you see the complications between dealing with a traumatic past and how much worse it can be trying to fix it. Ashton didn't get a lot of praise for his performance in this movie, which is sad. Although his face is unforgettable from his past exploits he didn't come off as That 70's Show's Kelso or the host of MTV's Punk'd in any way. He really showed his acting chops in this movie.

The special effects on this movie played well with things like its time/space warping scenes. Cinematography is worth noting too. Different eras of Evan's life seem to be depicted with different lens filters and other camera tricks that give the scenes a very signature look. All in all a very solid production.

Now the theatrical release has an ending different from the director's original vision. If you ask me they made a good choice with the theatrical ending. It makes more sense and it fits better in the overall theme of the movie. The alternate ending goes way out there on left field, even with the director's cut filling in little scenes that are supposed give foreshadowing for that ending. It's just a lame ending in my opinion. There are lot of people who say they prefer the alternate ending and I can only think they do because it's such a radical departure from conventional endings.

Now this Blu-Ray release is actually an import and doesn't come with any special features and whatnot other than enhanced picture. As a matter of fact this release will only have the director's cut of the movie and the theatrical release is not there at all. That includes the director's "alternate ending". This sucks for people who want to compare between the theatrical and director's cut as they are pretty different on how they end (and believe me that makes all the difference).

The Butterfly Effect is a great movie, but this Blu-Ray release isn't. No extra features. No commentary. No both versions of the movie. It's better to wait for a better release or just get the Infinifilm edition DVD, which has both versions, deleted scenes, documentaries and more.
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25 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful, intelligent film..., January 24, 2004
By 
This movie is very well done. The problem with many time travel movies is that they take too many things for granted. They presume that changes in the past have very small effect on the overall outcome of the present and future of the world. In Back To The Future, the consequences are superficial and easily repaired. This movie, The Butterfly Effect, does it right. The writers and director created a solid piece of entertainment that challenges the mind and thrills the soul. I love every minute of it. It asks the ultimate question and goes over the ground I have been longing to explore for a long, long time. What if you could change your past and make it better? What would your present knowledge and consciousness do to the world if you knew at age ten what the effects of the next choice you make would be? How would you try to change it? Who would be hurt or healed by those actions? I love this movie. If you are one who enjoys a great piece of film, check out this fantastic film.
Ashton Kutcher is a very strong actor. He proves to the world through this movie that he is much more talented than the brainless hunk he portrays on his television show. Here, he is powerful and convincing as a man who desperately wants everything to be alright. He wants to get the girl next door back into his life. He wants to save his little dog and live happily ever after. But what does he have to do to achieve this dream? How can he make life better for everyone around him?
I encourage everyone to see this film. Besides the occasional nudity and frequent smoking and drug use, it shows a stark, real world that one man is striving to make better and how he must choose to do that, and follows through with the consequences of those choices. Fast-paced and intelligent, The Butterfly Effect is a powerful film.
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The Butterfly Effect (Director's Cut & Theatrical Release) [Blu-ray]
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