I have been saying for awhile that there is a trilogy on the way. This is my tenth Casabloga entry, so I will now be doing that trilogy. First off, YES they made sequels to The Butterfly Effect, and YES I consider them some of the greatest movies of all time. Let me explain why. . .
First off, even now I still see Ashton Kutcher as Michael Kelso. I saw him as Steve Jobs in JOBS and was shocked. Even all the way back in 2004, when The Butterfly Effect came out, I didn’t see it because I thought there was no way he could be serious. Not only was That ’70s Show working against him, but as was Dude, Where’s My Car?, which I also think is a good movie (thought everyone reading this may breath a sigh of relief to know there will never be a “Casabloga: Dude, Where’s My Car?”). How could Kelso be a serious actor?
Well, for one, he is a good actor. An unexpectedly good actor. I didn’t see The Butterfly Effect until 2009. I had checked out the trilogy from the library (little did I know that The Butterfly Effect 3 was BRAND new at that time…until tonight I didn’t know it came out in 2009). I sat down and watched all three films back to back. I assumed that the two sequels would continue the story from the first, but no. All three films are three totally different, self-contained stories.
The films are based around an idea of Chaos Theory known as “the butterfly effect“, which is pretty much summed up in the opening slide of the first movie.
The first film is about Evan, played by Ashton Kutcher. When he was a kid, he suffered from occasional blackouts where he wouldn’t remember what he was doing. Usually it’s small things, like not remember drawing a picture or not remembering holding a knife in the kitchen. But other times it’s huge things, like he and his friends waiting for a mailbox to explode and suddenly they are running away in panick. When Even becomes an adult, he finds a way to access these memories. But not just relive the memories. He actually regains full control of his body.
He eventually uses this to make small changes that largely effects the present. He changes one small momentof his childhood at a time, and every time everything about the present has changed. But here is the key; everything he does, he does in an attempt to help someone else.
The same can’t be said about the second guy.
The second film is about Nick, played by Eric Lively. I won’t waste any time and will just come right out and just say that Nick is a total douchebag. Where Evan went back to help others, Nick only goes back to help himself.
The film starts with the tragic death of his girl friend, bestfriend, and bestfriend’s girlfriend. It’s made clear that he gets headaches on occasion, and when he looks at pictures it gets worse. At one point he looks at pictures from moments before his friends died and somehow ends up back there. This time he saves their lives and is teleported to the new present where his friends never died.
Okay, so he saved their lives. How was that to help himself? Well, it wasn’t. He did it on accident. But now he knows he can do that, and what is the first thing he does with his new found powers? Goes back and gets the promotion he missed out on, and makes sure to ruin the life of the guy who really got it the first time.
I don’t want to spoil the ending, but I will say the last thing he does in the movie seems noble at first, but when you see the next scene you realize he really was a douchebag.
The final film in the trilogy follows Sam, played by Chris Carmack, and is the most different of the lot. Instead of Sam being a regular guy who this happens to, he uses his power to solve cases for the police. We don’t see how he found out about his ability. The film starts and he’s already established. After watching two films that are both origin stories and complete stories, it’s nice to just jump right into the middle of his story. I mean, we already know what’s going on, so why spend the first half hour or so with us watching him find out and figure out how to use it. Get right to the story.
So we find out that Sam’s girlfriend was murdered ten years previously, and her sister tells him that the wrong guy was arrested and is about to be executed. He decides now is the time to go back and witness her murder to catch her real killer. Now we find out that he was taught how to do this, and his “mentor” (as I like to think of him, as it never fully explains. Which is good, because they pretty much imply all we need to know) tells him there are rules for going back. You can’t alter the past, you can’t go back to the same spot twice, and you’re just there to observe.
Sam goes back to the night of his girlfriend’s murder, but something goes horribly wrong, which drastically alters the present. Now instead of there being one murder, there’s a whole string of them, done by a serial killer. Sam goes back and forth to each murder trying to catch the killer.
To me, this one was the best of the trilogy. The first two are just mirrors of each other. Evan is a good guy helping people, Nick is a douch who is only looking out for himself. Most reviews of Butterfly Effect 2 pan it for this, but I have to praise it for this. In order to understand why it’sso great, you have to watch the trilogy as one. Evan and Nick contrast each other perfectly. Both films show how two totally different personalities will use (or misuse) the same ability. Sam’s story shows that the same ability the first two guys has could be used for the greater good.
While things still go wrong for Sam, the unexpected twist ending makes this the best ending of the series. And seeing how the first two stories ended so….tragically, and how this is the last movie, watching all three together is really the full experience. Finally, at the end of it all, we get a happy ending at long last. It took three films to get there, but things eventually worked out for the main character.
So while these movies are not direct sequels to each other (aside from a minor reference to Evan’s father in the second film), and the three movies individually aren’t good enough to make it in Casabloga, when put together, these three stories form one of the greatest, most interesting, and unique movie franchises I have ever seen.