butterfly_effect_ver2New Line Cinema
2004
R

“If anyone finds this, it means my plan didn’t work and I’m already dead. But if I can somehow go back to the beginning of all this, I might be able to save her.”

Evan Treborn has lost track of time. From an early age, crucial moments of his life have disappeared into a black hole of forgetting. His boyhood marred by a series of terrifying events he can’t remember. What remains is the ghost of memory and the broken lives of his childhood friends, Kayleigh, Lenny and Tommy. Throughout his childhood, Evan was under the care of a psychologist who encouraged him to keep a journal, detailing the events of his day-to-day life. Now in college, Evan reads from one of those journals and finds himself thrust inexplicably back in time. Even comes to realize the notebooks he keeps under his bed are a vehicle, a way to return to the past to reclaim his memories. But these recollections only leave Evan feeling responsible for the damaged lives of his friends, especially Kayleigh, the childhood sweetheart he still loves. Determined to do something now that he was incapable of doing then, Evan purposely travels back in time, his present day mind occupying his childhood body, in an attempt to re-write history and spare his friends and loved ones these traumatic experiences. By altering the events of the past, Evan hopes to transform the present. But every time Evan changes something in the past, he returns to the present to find his actions have unexpected and disastrous consequences. Try as he might, he can’t seem to create a reality that allows he and Kayleigh to live “happily ever after”.

I first watched The Butterfly Effect when it was out in theaters, on a larf with my then partner in movie watchin’ crime Nex. I then wrote a rather favorable review of it on the message board I was frequenting back then, the late-and-lamented XianGoth.Net. Since then, that original review got lost in the cyber-shuffle (does anyone use the prefix “cyber” anymore?), and so now I’m writting up a replacement review of this movie. Hate when that happens.

Viewing it back then, I found The Butterfly Effect to be a rather enjoyable and engaging psychological sci-fi drama that made me not only chew on the movie long after we left the theater, but also forced me to reconsider dismissing Ashton Kutcher as just another chowder-headed comedy actor. Re-watching it now, the movie still holds up quite a bit.

In case you skipped over the novel that was written on the back of the DVD case that I included up there, The Butterfly Effect’s story involves one Evan Treborn, who had a condition growing up where part of his memory blanks out, and he can’t remember anything from the few minutes between the parts he could remember. If that makes any sense. Usually this precedes something bad happening, and he comes to with the aftermath of whatever traumatizing event made his brain decide to tuck that memory away. So, he keeps journals for years, and after a bit discovers them again as a college student, when he discovers he has the ability to jump back to his younger self in the era he’s reading about to experience those blackout times, and why they were banished into the void to begin with. And there’s good reason, let me tell you. I’m not going to go into detail, here; let’s just say “very bad things”, and leave it to you to watch for yourself to fill in the blanks. Pun unintentional. The problem is, every time he tries to fix the past, his present becomes something different, and it’s never good. Oh, and he can still remember what the present was previously. After several botched attempts to make things right for everyone he loves, it finally does irreparable damage to his brain, and he comes across the final solution to make sure everyone turns out safe and happy, even if it means never getting to be with the one he loves. And, depending on if you’re watching the theatrical cut or the director’s cut, this movie ends on a hopeful note or a massively depressing note. The end.

As I mentioned previously, as a movie, The Butterfly Effect works well and still holds up after all this time. It’s a good sci-fi flick that still manages to make you chew over the story after the end-credits have rolled. It’s not perfect, and there are some noticeable plot holes that you can find easily if you want to nit-pick, but overall it’s an engaging movie that I enjoyed then and still enjoy every now and again to this day. I’m just flabbergasted that I have to re-write the review for this. But, here it is. If you haven’t checked it out, you should do so at least once.

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