Ashton Kutcher, Amy Smart, Melora Walters, Elden Henson, William Lee Scott, John Patrick Amedori, Irene Gorovaia, Jessie James and Kevin Schmidt.

Eric Hess and J. Mackye Gruber

Running Time:
113 mins

Out to buy on DVD 13/09/04

"I'll go back and change it"


Evan (Kutcher) has suffered from blackouts all this life. He'd wake up with no recollection of what had happened while he was out and he would miss major, sometimes traumatic moments of his life. Doctors think it is his brain's way of coping with extreme distress but Evan discovers that if he reads his journals from the time of one of his blackouts, his consciousness travels back to that time, allowing him to change the past. The problem is that if he changes anything, the ripples through time affect not just him, but everyone he knows.

If you have ever thought to yourself "If I could just go back and change that", this movie takes that premise and shows you if you change anything it can have serious repercussions.

This very interesting premise might not be the most original in movies but "The Butterfly Effect" uses it quite good effect. Seeing the consequences of Evan's changes as time ripples and alters reality, just throws him into new situations and problems. Each change affects the personalities and lives of each of his three friends and his family, sometimes for the better but sometimes for the worse but never striking a balance.

Known more for his famous girlfriends, comedic roles and celebrity pranks, Ashton Kutcher tries his hand at the drama and is surprisingly not too bad. As Ewan, he is the focal point of the movie and how he reacts to the changes around him and the repercussions of those changes is key to the success of the film. The good news is that Kutcher does this quite well. He isn't going to win any awards but it is a believeable and reserved performance from the actor, showing that there is more to him than some people might think.

The performances from his support also have a larger bearing on the storyline of the film. Amy Smart goes through three dramatic transformations, from worn-out waitress, to bubbly college girl to a drug-addicted prostitute. This could be a breakout role for the actress as it shows that she is not just a pretty face. Anyone who has seen Magnolia knows that Melora Walters is a good actress and she does her best with the role of Evan's mother. Eden Henson is also good as the troubled Lenny. The young actors and actresses who play Evan, Kalley, Lenny and Tommy at age 7 and 13 are extremely good however with Jessie James as the young Tommy been the highlight.

The Butterfly Effect might not be the most original movie but it does provide some good entertainment. The twists in the story and the non-Hollywood ending keep you interested until the finale and it shows you that there might be more to Ashton Kutcher than his tabloid life might suggest.


Presented in Widescreen 1.85:1 Anamorphic with a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, the transfer is very good. The picture quality is very good throughout as the different techniques and emphasising of colours become very prominent, due to the sharpness of the image. The sound quality is also very good, especially during the time transition scenes as Evan goes back to change the future.


Director's Cut (120 mins)
This is the director's cut of the movie that allows you to watch the version that Eric Hess and J. Mackye Gruber wanted to be released but due to studio pressure, they had to change. The extra footage contains more of the younger versions of the main characters and a completely new ending that is even more non-Hollywood than the theatrical release. This is the only version on the disc however, unlike the US release that had both version of the movie, so you cannot make a comparison.

Audio Commentary with writer/directors Eric Hess and J. Mackye Gruber
This very chatty and informative commentary shows that the filmmakers had a real passion for their movie. The pair discusses the differences between their director's cut and the theatrical release, explaining why the changes were made and their feelings about them. They talk about casting and the fact that most of the actors had to play many different versions of their characters. The technical aspects of the film are also discussed, such as the setting up of the time transitions, the different looks after the changes had taken place and shooting in a real prison. The directors also reveal that there are pointers within the movie that show when something dangerous is about to happen or has happened.

Text Commentary
Not as informative as you may have thought, these intermittent facts and pieces of trivia pop up every 10 minutes or so but don't really convey much to enhance your viewing. There are the odd one or two facts that can be of interest such as cancer statistics, who invented the MRI scan and some disturbing facts about child abuse cases.

The Creative Process (17.50 mins)
Writer/Director's Eric Hess and J. Mackye Gruber, producer Chris Bender, director of photography Matthew F. Leonetti, producer A.J. Dix and stars Ashton Kutcher, Amy Smart, Eric Stoltz and Melora Walters talk about bringing the Butterfly Effect to the silver screen. The writer/directors talk about their personal attachment to the movie and the inspiration behind story. They then take you behind the scenes of pre-production, storyboarding and filming, touching on casting and the amount of research that went into the project. The cast talk about their characters and what they had to bring to table in terms of performance as many of them had to play different versions of the character.

Behind the visual effects (16.06 mins)
Writer/Director's Eric Hess and J. Mackye Gruber, director of photography Matthew F. Leonetti, VFX supervisor Ralph Maiers and VFX coordinator Christopher Elke reveal how the visual effects were produced for the movie. The featurette reveals how transitional time effects were created, breaking down the many elements such as the shimming room, the dancing words and the memory flashes that made up the scenes. They also reveal how they created the post box explosion and how they removed digitally removed limbs with a very low budget.

Chaos Theory (8.59 mins)
Professor of Physics at Cal Tech University Peter Goldreich Ph.D and psychotherapists John D Biroc Ph.D and Constance Kaplan MFT explain chaos theory and its roll in the movie. The three of them discuss unpredictability, trying to control chaos and Edward Lorenz's Butterfly Effect theory. The featurette is intercut with quotes outlining what chaos theory actually is.

Time Travel (13.24 mins)
Writer/Director's Eric Hess and J. Mackye Gruber, psychotherapists John D Biroc Ph.D and Constance Kaplan MFT, Michael Pogorzelski from the Academy Film Archive AMPAS and Ken Wlaschin from the American Film Institute discuss the allure of time travel in both real life and in the movies. Covering the history of time travel movies and looking at the influences of films like The Terminator, Minority Report, Timecop and Back to the Future, the featurette also tries to explain the human fascination with time travel and the need to change their lives.

Deleted Scenes (6.46 mins)
With optional commentary from writer/director's Eric Hess and J. Mackye Gruber, these nine deleted or alternative scenes entitled "Where's My Puffer?", "Kids Discuss Art", "The Mute in the Yellow Hat", "Once Bitten, Twice Catatonic", "Get My Memories Back", "You've Been Acting Weird, Evan", "Noon Day Stalker", "Stalker Ending" and "Happy Sappy Ending", don't really add much to the movie and wouldn't be noticeable in their absence. The two alternative endings not very relevant as they relate to the theatrical version and not this director's cut.

Trailer (2.25 mins)
Your chance to watch the full theatrical trailer for The Butterfly Effect.


A good movie gets a very good DVD treatment. The extra features are very good, mixing informative and entertaining featurettes about the film with ones explaining the theories behind it. The commentary track is also very good. What lets the package down is the absence of the theatrical cut of the movie, as fans might not like the ending that writer/director's Eric Hess and J. Mackye Gruber envisaged. The director's cut of The Butterfly Effect is, in my opinion, a better movie but having both version to compare would have been the most advantageous option for the fans (They had both version for the US release).


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