Ashton Kutcher is proof that you don't need talent in Hollywood to make it as Britney Spears, J.Lo, and Ashlee Simpson has proved, and Kutcher is in a long personal list of people whom I feel should be squirted out of Hollywood's backhole, but nonetheless, he's surprisingly good here. Yes, I hate to admit it, and I hated every movie I've seen with Kutcher so far, but he's good here. He's not only believable as a leading man, but as a dramatic leading man, and it made it easier to watch through this--tripe. Kutcher may actually have skills, and if he'd hone them into something more useful, he'd be on my list of good actors, but alas, I may never like this dude.
"The Butterfly Effect" is a rather ludicrous hybrid of two very good movies "Donnie Darko", and "Frequency" and what results is the bastard child of the two, a pretty dumb and utterly pretentious jumbled drama that is never sure what it's trying to say, or what in fact it's trying to mean. Is it a tragedy? Drama? Thriller? Science Fiction? Fractured Romance? Does the butterfly effect really apply to this, or is that theory just used as a plot device for this? I was never really sure what exactly, but what I was sure of in the end is that this definitely is none of the more complex dimensions above, instead it's just more like a really long practice in human misery, and cruelty than anything else.
As I stated in the aforementioned paragraph above, this tries to be two movies, firstly like "Donnie Darko" a film about a troubled boy attempting to seek a purpose in a world he's not sure he's supposed to be in and seeks to stop tragedy through strings of events even including the usual Christ references, and then there's the concept on which the events in the future, with the help of a special ability, can change the past and tragic events, but somehow, the slightest change only makes things worse.
"Frequency" was a very good study of the Chaos theory and while creating a very engrossing thriller also managed to demonstrate the complexities and sheer fascinating results by it, while "The Butterfly Effect" uses it more as a mere plot device rather than a concept to revolve around. The butterfly effect or The Chaos Theory discovered by Edward Lorenz is the theory that the slightest alteration in a current environment can alter the people, the situation, the time period, and environment with humongous and many times disastrous repercussions, and regardless of how much the environment has been repaired, the results can continue to remain disastrous regardless of the length of repairs, thus was examined by Lorenz after he mistakenly altered a series of numbers during an experiment and no matter what he did couldn't go back to the original series of numbers.
Now, if "The Butterfly Effect" revolved around the concept of the actual theory for the purposes of the story, examining it further, dealing with the mass complexities, and at least practicing in originality, this may have been such a good movie, but instead it never deals with the actual theory, and instead just proceeds in dealing out themes and contexts that reminded me a lot of snuff film, and most of which I felt were just shown for shock value on the writers part to keep the audience cringing, most of the time it left me cringing but not for the reasons you'd think. Many times the events are so ridiculous you can almost hear the screenwriter manipulating the audience for shock value including one scene when the kids stuff a large firecracker in a mailbox as a prank, and it just happens to go off at the "right moment" which you'll see. It's a scene that I'm sure was intended for people to gasp in shock and cover their eyes, but from where I sat, it was just so darn ridiculous.
"The Butterfly Effect" is not an intelligent film thought it deals with fascinating themes, it's still just a really one-dimensional quasi-thriller with nothing going for it except a script that copies "Donnie Darko" page for page, but there was a difference, "Donnie Darko" was a very good, thought provoking thriller that never went to extremes for the purpose of shocking the audience, while this deals with a grab bag of "taboo" plot devices that wants to be daring, but is just manipulative.
Dabbling in suggestive but very uncomfortable themes of incest, pedophilia, child abuse, animal cruelty and extreme violence that, again, borders on snuff for the sheer purposes of making the audience gasp, this will be a very uncomfortable experience as it was for me. The story is ultimately very skewed in its approach taking a more routine approach that we've seen before in "The Twilight Zone" and the short lived and hardly remembered "That was Then" but they were done a lot better though they never acknowledge the concept.
"The Butterfly Effect" has the ability to observe what their story is working with but is just filled with constant miserable sequences including a lot of violent content, a lot of sexual references, and delves into the incredibly campy by the climax, with one ridiculous result from the main character's attempt to alter life, and then, as if the writers have given up, the concept is thrown out the window and the whole plot is stretched and changed becoming very insulting towards the audiences intelligence with an attempted surprise ending, but by then we realize we've just wasted a lot of our own time we can never get back.
With such a fascinating concept with all the makings of a good film and with a good performance from Kutcher, it's hard to believe this is such an awful pretentious and skewed thriller without a brain in its head.