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THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT

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Review by
Mike Philbin

The Butterfly Effect
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THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT - 2004
Paramount Pictures
Rating: USA: R

THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT is a scientific theory that claims the beating of a butterfly's wings on one side of the planet can lead to a hurricane on the opposite side.* It's your ultimate cause-and-effect mechanism, if you like. And this extreme view is certainly carried through in this riveting drama.

Evan Treborn (Ashton Kutcher)'s memory is all shot to shit - luckily for him (and us) a child psychologist recommended he keep a diary of daily events. Upon rereading this diary it appears that Evan can return to those pivotal moments in his (and his family's) life and change the outcome from 'good' to 'bad'. Pretty simple time travel premise, you might think. Why should I waste my DVD dollar on this?

I agree - it was with quite a bit of reluctance that I finally agreed to put myself through the DVD of this time-travel horror film - I'd actually seen the trailer many moons ago and I thought it looked like a Made For TV sorta movie, that's what the trailer said. It said "Don't worry about this smelly little film, it'll never break through; it'll never mean anything more than 'fluff' to any true horror fan." I can imagine them saying the same thing about SOCIETY and REQUIEM FOR A DREAM, too.

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THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT is a STUNNING mind-warping cinematic experience - I love the bit where Evan has just wandered back in time to fix an error (as he sees it) and the future catches up with him in a screen-trembling near-embolism. With all the background footage based on the consequences of Evan's naive vigilante ime activity, it looks like about 27 films crammed into two hours of mind-scattering joy as Evan leaps backwards and forward between his crude time-fixing solutions. You might not be a fan of Back To The Future and other such ball-less attempts at the time-travel subgenre but this flick shies away from no taboo and heartlessly 'treats' the viewer to every impossible consequence of fate that befalls this young guy.

There's kiddie-porn, prostitution, amputees and all sorts of other nastiness presented here. It's not an easy film to watch because of the personal implication of Evan's activity to save his lineage and often the narrative conflict impacts on him in a fundamentally touching way. The most important aspect of this film for me is how it makes you THINK about your relationship to your friends and family. Who really are these alien entities you interact with on a daily basis? What if they were just a multi-mirrored reflection of your interaction with them? Like you are not only forming the future with your decisions, but you're also forming the minds and habits of your friends and family?

!!!SCIENCE MOMENT!!!:
Is there really such a thing as a "Butterfly Effect"? Yep, and this movie adheres pretty well to the scientific analogy. But the Butterfly Effect, a term coined by Jacques Hadamard in 1890, is just that: an analogy used to desribe how very small things can have enormous outcomes over periods of time. It's not now, nor was it ever a theory. The Butterfly Effect is also known as the Ripple Effect and it was never meant to suggest that a butterfly in one part of the world, merely by flapping it's wings, could possibly create a storm elsewhere in the world.

Continued at
Science Moment 2004/ButterflyEffect.

A very strange film with a wonderful DVD ending that was much harder than the softly-softly Hollywood happy ending tacked onto the original film's release. Watch this on video and know that it's a more fitting ending. Great stuff.

5 out of 5 Shriek Girls

Shriek GirlsShriek GirlsShriek GirlsShriek GirlsShriek Girls
This review copyright 2011 E.C.McMullen Jr.

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*
No, it is not a scientific theory and never was. Edward Lorenz, one of the pioneers of Chaos Theory, coined the term 'The Butterfly Effect'. He only used it as a descriptive analogy and nothing more.

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