It seems to be inevitable these days; if a movie is even a modest success, it will somehow be turned into a franchise, whether it deserves it or not. A good example of this is 2004′s The Butterfly Effect. That movie was a surprisingly well constructed thriller that went out of its way to push the envelope by going in some very uncomfortable directions. Not only that, but it took us into the characters’ lives and showed how the choices affected them. It is a nicely constructed film. Anyway, the movie was successful enough to garner the sequel treatment and here it is, The Butterfly Effect 2.
As I watched the movie, I found myself wondering why it was made. In all seriousness, The Butterfly Effect did not need a sequel. As it is, there is nothing in it related to the Ashton Kutcher-starring original; well, there is a mention of Jason Treborn, the father of Kutcher’s character. The mention barely registers and I suspect it is just lip service paid to the original to account for the title.
The Butterfly Effect 2 centers on a guy named Nick (Eric Lively). When we first meet him, he is with his girlfriend, Julie (Erica Durance), and their friends (Dustin Milligan and Gina Holden). They are enjoying a day up in the mountains, but an important work call drags them back to reality and they head back down the mountain, Eric at the wheel. It is this trip that sets off the rest of the drama. They are in a terrible wreck (which looks like a cut bit from Final Destination 2, which happens to have been written by the creative team of the first The Butterfly Effect). Julie is killed and Nick is left alone.
We pick up with Nick a year later. He is back to work at some sort of technology start up, and is beginning to suffer massive headaches. Well, before long, the headache kicks in, things shake, and he jumps in time. If you saw the first film, the effect should be a little bit familiar, not quite the same transition, but similar. Nick realizes that he has traveled through time and has the opportunity to change things
Much like Evan Treborn in the earlier film, Nick sets out to make things better. The problem is that Nick is not as altruistic as Evan. He tries to make things better, but he tries to make them better for himself. Simply put, Nick is kind of a scumbag. You may think that he is just trying to save Julie, and that may be the case, but the further in we go, the more he seems to be out for himself. He constantly tries to make things better for himself. He sets out to make sure he gets the girl, the job, the money, anything to satisfy his own greed.
What we are left with is a movie that really has no reason for being, featuring a character that is not likable in the least. It is not nearly as interesting or involving as the first. Yes, it may be unfair to compare the two, but its “sequel” status does open it up to that. Even taken on its own, it is not a good movie. The performances may be decent, but the writing is half-baked. The movie fails to give us anyone to like and it always feels like it is trying to sell itself to the audience. It could have been a different experience if the movie wasn’t presented as an exercise in self-gratification.
The movie was directed by John Leonetti who is a good cinematographer but not so good as a director. His only other feature length directorial effort was 1997′s Mortal Kombat: Annihilation. That earlier film, if you can believe it, is more entertaining.
Audio/Video. The film is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1. It is generally a good looking transfer. I did not see any digital issues, and there is natural looking film grain. For most of the film there is a good level of detail, especially in close ups, of which there are plenty. There are moments where the scene appears flat and a little drained, I suspect this might have been a creative decision in he source material. It is not a reference transfer, but it is a good transfer.
The audio is a DTS-HD 5.1 track that does its job. It is not a flashy track, but there are moments that use the surrounds quite nicely, especially during the accident sequence. It has nice, clear dialogue.
- Commentary. The track features director John Leonetti and co-producer Michael Stirling. It is a pretty good commentary, and includes lots of high fives about how they shot in a mere twenty days. There is other interesting talk about some of the techniques used. If you feel the need to sit through the movie again, at least make it a bit more informative and turn on the commentary.
- Altering Reality: On the Set of The Butterfly Effect 2. This short featurette covers a lot of the same ground as the commentary, never letting you forget it was shot in twenty days. The main difference is that it is paired with some behind the scenes footage.
Bottomline. I did not like this movie. Yes, there are certainly much worse films out there, but this is bad and unnecessary. They took he basic concept of altering reality and took it to its basest level, it took a selfless and somewhat sweet original movie and created a self-centered, greedy tale. Pass.