I know, I know. Any movie starring a central character from That '70s Show or Punk'd has a strike against it, right?
Wrong. Ashton Kutcher is not reprising his role as a simpleton in The Butterfly Effect: Director's Cut (2004). To the contrary, Kutcher here is multifaceted and mostly serious as "Evan Treborn". (In addition, he serves as executive producer.)
An intriguing mental exercise is to analyze how one's life might be different if certain events didn't happen (or happened differently). For example, what would your life be like now if you didn't go to a particular college? Would you have met your spouse; secured your current job? Sliding Doors with Gwenyth Paltrow tried to explore this fruitful concept in the 1998, but failed to deliver.
The Butterfly Effect does not fail. It delivers a fascinating story that it constantly mutates by revisiting and tweaking pivotal circumstances, and then displaying the repercussions.
Theologically speaking, The Butterfly Effect clearly would fall heavily on the side of self-determination as opposed to divine will; free will over predestination. Psychologically or sociologically speaking, it's all about nurture versus nature. Outside events essentially control in this world.
I emphasize that I saw the director's cut version on DVD, because according to the filmmakers' commentary, the ending for the director's cut differed from the theatrical version, which they briefly described. Go with the director's cut--it's extremely intense, disturbing and thought-provoking.
The Butterfly Effect receives a "B+".