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The Butterfly Effect (15)



Review by: Jack Foley | Rating: One

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Beyond The Movie: The Science & Psychology of the Chaos Theory; The History and Allure of Time Travel. Fast Track – trivia subtitle track; Filmmaker commentary – directors and screenwriters Eric Bress & J. Mackye Gruber; Deleted/alternate scenes; The Creative Process; Visual effects; Storyboard gallery; Original theatrical trailer; DVD ROM content.

ASHTON Kutcher bids to be taken seriously in this supposedly high-concept time travelling thriller, but the acting is so poor and the plot so pointlessly unpleasant, that viewers are likely to be asking, dude, where’s my brain.

The Butterfly Effect derives its name from the chaos theory which suggests that the simple flap of a butterfly’s wings has the potential to set off a tornado thousands of miles away. Hence, if any moment in time has the potential to determine the course of the future, what would happen if the past could be revisited and that moment changed?

As psychology major, Evan Treborn, Kutcher is one such person, ‘blessed’ with the ability to revisit his past and change some significant moments.

Yet every change brings with it a different set of consequences, and, no matter how hard Treborn tries, there are some tragedies which cannot be prevented.

Somewhere within the heart of The Butterfly Effect lies a pretty intriguing premise, yet this becomes quickly lost amid the film’s gaping lapses in logic, its unremittingly nasty tone, and the general ineptitude of its performances.

There is no attempt to explain why Kutcher has been given the ability to time travel, which requires a huge suspension of disbelief in the first place, and which puts viewers on the back foot from the outset.

And the plot seems to delight in taking viewers into fairly abhorrent territory, while giving it an MTV-style gloss.

Things pick up as a bearded Kutcher hides out in a mysterious office, desperately trying to change things for the umpteenth time, and then unfolds via a series of episodes, in which the full extent of Treborn’s suffering is revealed.

His troubles begin when he is exposed to the paedophile father of one of his closest friends, who revels in the ability to be able to video a sordid act involving his own daughter, and get worse as his circle of friends unwittingly trigger an explosion which kills a mother and baby.

There is also an episode in which a pet dog is savagely burned to death by another psychotic child, as well as numerous beatings and abuses.

Hence, Treborn isn’t just concerned with his own well-being, but with that of his friends as well - all of whom emerge in the present bearing the scars of past indiscretions.

Once Treborn realises his ability to be able to change things, however, his problems really begin, for by saving the mother and baby, for instance, someone else is badly injured, bringing about a different set of events for everyone around him.

And so the story continues, with Treborn winding up in prison, at one point, and having to contemplate male rape.

It is all deeply unpleasant stuff, told in such an uninvolving fashion that it ends being distasteful and unsatisfying.

Kutcher doesn’t possess the talent to convince on any level that he is capable of intelligent thinking, while you can almost see him trying to remember his lines (under his breath), at one point, which lessens the impact of his character.

Those around him fare little better, with not a single convincing performance being conjured by any of the principles.

Audiences are therefore left to try and fathom the gaping lapses of logic, without ever caring for the characters, which makes the latter part of proceedings fairly tedious viewing.

Fans of Kutcher will no doubt flock to see the star taking on more serious subject matter, so telling them to avoid it would be as pointless as trying to keep a moth away from the flame.

But everyone else will no doubt want the ability to change time themselves after emerging from it, in order to reclaim the couple of hours they have wasted trying to make sense of this nonsense.

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