The Butterfly Effect is a
difficult film to summarise with any measure of brevity. Originally
released in 2004, this excellent and underrated drama utilises time
travel and parallel dimensions to illustrate its expansive themes of
regret, redemption and atonement. As is to be expected from a film
which takes its title from one of the central tenets of Chaos
Theory, things often donít pan out as smoothly as hoped for, and
even the most seemingly insignificant actions cause ripples that
manifest themselves as tidal waves of unforseen consequences.
The plot revolves around Evan Treborn
(Ashton Kutcher), who thanks to some rare form of genetic anomaly is
given the chance to literally go back into his past and make the
wrong things right. And my are there some wrong to address! The
Butterfly Effect is certainly not for the faint of heart.
Amongst its weightier preoccupations are incest, child abuse, drug
addiction, prostitution, mental illness, involuntary
incarceration... and, well, you get the idea. Itís not maudlin or
depressing, but it is unrelenting in its intensity, and liable to
leave you drained at its conclusion, or at the very least in need of
a glass of warm milk and a hug.
Co-producer and lead Ashton Kutcher is
undeniably brilliant in his breakout dramatic role, ably carrying
the film and putting in a performance that is downright
mesmerising. As was the case with Adam Sandler in more serious
outings like Punch Drunk Love, you get the impression Kutcher
simply needed the right vehicle to demonstrate his not
inconsiderable acting chops. He is well served by a supporting cast
that includes Amy Smart (Road Trip, Starsky & Hutch), Eric
Stoltz and Ethan Suplee (American History X, My Name is Earl),
and the smart script offers a series of continuing surprises.
The Blu-ray release is top calibre
too. First of all the film looks superb in 1080p, and the DTS-HD
audio features good depth and clarity. There are also a host of
bonus features on offer, including an enlightening audio commentary
with co-writers and directors Eric Bress and J. Mackye Gruber,
deleted scenes with optional commentary and four featurettes on time
travel, the creative process, Chaos Theory and special effects.
Overall this amounts to a first rate
release of this powerful, moving and surprisingly overlooked film.
The DVD and Blu-ray releases also feature the original 120-minute
version of the film, not the theatrical version, which underwent
substantial cuts amounting to some 7 minutes of footage.