The Violent Blue blog***Comics, Horror and Pop Culture***Updates Tuesday through Friday (and occasionally at random)

Butterfly Effect

Butterfly Effect 3

box8filmsindexThe Butterfly Effect part three start off with a brutal murder – much bloodier than anything were used to seeing in these films. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or not.

Everything about this worries me – the after dark productions are meant to give exposure to small indie films that couldn’t get made otherwise, and a sequel is a weird choice… As if somebody bought the rights to the franchise and intended to crank out low-budget sequels one after another, match the way Dimension has done with Hellraiser and Children of the Corn.

Our main character has a reputation as a psychic cop, a profiler like Will Graham in Red Dragon. His task is to solve the mystery of his dead girlfriend, and his dilemma how to use the Butterfly Effect to do that.

indexYou can already see he’s a practitioner of the Butterfly Effect. We are not slowly discovering it this time, it’s not a secret or a surprise. The skill is a firmly established thing, approached with a methodology to maximize and monitor it (using a bthtub full of ice and electrodes to monitor his vitals). He has a mentor who cautions him about using it, in particular using it to change its own past and timeline. It serves as both exposition and foreshadowing, but the almost casual approach to the Butterfly Effect almost robs it of its mystery. Basically the series has shifted from horror edged sci-fi to superhero without a costume, much like Jumper or Wanted.

Still, the suspense ramps up as he makes his first jump back to try and save the girlfriend and discovers the murderer, but as it always does, things take a turn for the worse. We are treated to more gore. More and importantly, in the new timeline there are more murders. His time jump created a serial killer which he must now stop or prevent from ever existing.

It’s an interesting premise, and makes for a very different kind of film than what we’ve seen before in the series… Indeed, it almost feels like fan fiction set with in the Butterfly Effect universe. It feels as if it were written by someone obsessed with the mechanics and rules of the power and the chaos theory driving it. The part of me that loves reading sourcebooks and who’s who reference books really digs that. They don’t overdo it, it’s kind of like a television pilot – it’s enough that someone who hasn’t seen the previous films will be able to understand what’s going on in what is otherwise a solid but average film. I do need to mention, it’s got a great ending, with a curious twist. As far as quality goes, it fits right in with the rest of this box set collection, however despite some impressive gore, it’s not horror and that does make it the odd man out. The simple story entertains but makes it forgettable.



Butterfly Effect 2

franchisebannerindex2The Butterfly Effect to has a cast that is so CW it hurts. Indeed, we start out the film in a coastal scene that could be straight out of Dawson’s Creek.

Tragedy strikes when the cast’s cars tire blows out in front of a semi truck barrelling down on them. Our hero’s next scene is in the hospital, dreaming series of flashbacks to the events that we just saw about five minutes previous. Alone, the only survivor we very shortly get a glimpse of the butterfly effect as he stares at a photo… Fast forward one year later. Stress triggers the effect at a business meeting and he is sent home – that’s where things really get started.

In a lot of ways this movie feels cheaper… And yet somebody is very interested in playing with the special effects . It’s a similar look, but not the same and our main character seems more analytical, less emotional than Ashton Kutcher. He is not exploring the power to change time through memories, he is examining and analyzing it as it happens.

The movie in general feels more shallow. The stakes are far less serious, and then there’s the little things – there is a lot more sex in this movie (though weirdly enough way less nudity than the first). The ending too, feels diluted, far less satisfying than the first.

I’m worried about the next one.

The Butterfly Effect

franchisebannerindexThe Butterfly Effect starts so with a tense scene about Ashton Kutcher hiding under a table with a notebook.  We then rewind to his childhood and teenage years to discover he’s been having blackouts and terrifying visions all this time. It doesn’t help that one of his teen friends is a psychopath. After a particularly traumatic event, he leaves his girlfriend behind with a message to her “I’ll come back for you”. Fast forward to college, and we’re off to the races.

You know, I have always despised Ashton Kutcher – I’m not a fan of the sort of dumb shaggy pretty boy he usually plays. Unexpectedly, this is different. Haunted by the memories, and clinging to his journal, Kutcher displays a greater range than I’ve ever seen him show in any other role. There is genuine fear and despair as he remembers those terrible things that happened during his blackouts – things chronicled in his journal. And as he concentrates on the memories from the journal, suddenly…  something in that memory changes… and when that happens, everything changes.

As horrifying as it is, as much as it feels like a thriller, this film is science fiction and not really horror. It’s brilliant and has laid the groundwork for a lot of things we have seen since– especially for those of us who watch the Flash. It’s everything Donnie Darko wishes it could be. The end was heart wrenching and now I want more… I understand why we got to sequels.

But is that a good thing? We’ll see shortly.