Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Flap Off!: The Butterfly Effect

I wish I could go back in time & warn myself about what was coming.  Today's film is The Butterfly Effect, a movie with a fairly-unique premise and a super-super-dark tone.  I could not have killed how depraved this movie could get.  The thing about it is that they never *quite* show the really bad stuff, but show enough of it to still disturb.  It would be like if I posted a bestiality video on my site, but cut out the middle part (with the sex) & acted like it was okay.  Aside from the depravity and depression involved, the movie fails at the most basic aspect of filmmaking.  I will get to that near the End, since I like to leave you all in suspense.  If you don't know the plot, here's the gist: a guy can mentally time-travel by reading his own journals.  Since he can do this, he attempts to fix the past mistakes, but only ends up making different/worse ones.  There's a pretty big hole in this concept too, but I'll get to that later as well.  Get our your depressing journals and read on...
As I mentioned, the film is relentlessly dark and depressing.  I watched The Director's Cut, so it might just be extra worse here.
Our hero suffers from Dissociative Fugue States when trauma happens.  Such trauma includes molestation at the hands of a friend's father...
Accidentally killing a child with a small explosive (prank involving an M-80 gone awry)...
...and seeing his dog burned to death by a seriously-twisted 'friend.'  This comes after he *dares* kiss the guy's sister...who he's known for years. 

This kid- who's like 10- also beats a guy up with a stanchion- in public- but doesn't go to Juvenile Hall until *after* the dog incident.  Nice judicial system, movie!
The star of this movie finally shows up in the form of Ashton Kutcher, trying to play a range anywhere between 18 and 25.  He doesn't exactly pull it off at times, but it's the least of his problems.
After the suicide of his lady friend- who he has avoided for years-, he begins trying to change past events by reading his journal and sending his psyche back.  The problem is that everything he fixes somehow turns bad.

* He stops the dad from molesting him and the girl, but this makes the brother crazy...somehow.  He attacks them years later, making Kutcher kill him and get sent to Prison.  Again- nice legal system, given that he was attacked first.
* He saves the woman from the M-80, but loses his arms and legs.  Must have been an M-8,000,001
* He talks the brother down from killing his dog, but the silent kid stabs him.  Seems like this change would solve that first change, doesn't it?
After continuing down this path, apparently destroying his brain in the process, our hero takes the super-emo approach to the situation.  Thanks to the Director's Cut, Kutcher reads *his mother's* diary about when he was born, takes over his fetal body and commits suicide.  No, really.

I should also mention that this is apparently her *third* stillborn child.  This means that Kutcher has had two brothers who also got the power, used it, went crazy and did this exact same thing.  Poor lady.  The End.
Can you go back in time and just smash the DVD please?  This movie has an interesting idea, but its follow-through is not that great.  It's just a series of scenes in which he tries to fix things, only for them to get worse. It's so interesting and surprising the fifth time, movie!  I should also note that I did watch The Director's Cut is seven minutes longer than the Theatrical Cut.  It seems that all of this time was there to just make the film more bleak and depressing.  Watch any scene of this movie in which Kutcher talks about his past and just insert the 'Why Does This Happen To Me' internet meme- it all syncs up!  The film is just bleak, bleak, bleak.  I almost stopped watching by the thirty-minute mark (no lie) and figured that I could make up a joke to go with it.  Instead, I watched it all the way through.  Screw me.  Here's my biggest issue: how does he have this power?  This is never ever ever ever ever ever ever ever EVER explained.  Would you watch Quantum Leap if they never said how it worked, if there was no Al (not me) and no Ziggy?  No.  This movie just throws out 'this family line can time-travel by reading their journals' and expects you to go 'Yeah- I totally believe that.  Don't explain it to me at all.'  Oh and why is that guy dressed like a Goth?  He's not a recurring character,, yeah...funny?
Next up, the sequel (which has jack shit to do with anything).  Instead of a prequel that might explain things, we get the same movie...kind of.  Stay tuned...

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