If quality could be judged on the time spent sitting in the pub discussing it afterwards (and perhaps in a Geezeasthetics world it should be) then the standing of dodgy science fiction movies would obviously soar. I went to see The Butterfly Effect a couple of weeks ago, with fellow members of our self titled bad film club, and we could not get off the subject for hours afterwards. We even felt a bit robbed that it was not as bad as we thought it would be.
Plot? Ashton Kutchner (yes, you are turning off now) plays a grown up (yes really) version of a kid who had lots of black-outs as a child. Because of these occasionally disturbing black-outs he wrote down everything that happen to him, and later discovers by concentrating really hard on these words, he can revisit these scenes – and change them. What is interesting about the film is the care taken in the set-up. The childhood is laid bare, with plenty of nastiness, for about forty minutes before we even see Kutchner. The rest of the film is a bounce back and forth in time and the worlds that Kutchner’s changes bring up. The overarching plot is nothing all that clever, but plenty of detail has been expended on trying to get the changes to make sense. And as befits the directors of Final Destination 2, the film is gleefully exploitative in visiting horror after horror on poor ole Kutchner.
The kind of film it is though screams out for a dissection of its inconsitencies. And remarkably there really aren’t any. It is bizarre as the viewer has to suspend a massive amount of disbelief for the premise, so why would we mind if the plot mechanics were rusty too. Yet time travel movie after time travel movie comes up against this problem. The only real inconsitency in the film is its very title. The appeal to the Butterfly Effect (refered to as written by Chaos Theory as if Chaos Theory were a scientist in its own right) is loose in the extreme. Fine the world changes when someone gets their arms and legs blown off (best gag in the movie) but not when they give themselve stigmata via a mail spike? This isn’t the Butterfly Effect, it is the sledgehammer effect.