I have begrudgingly become an Ashton Kutcher fan. I was inclined to dislike him based on the ridiculousness of a relationship with Mrs. Bruce Willis, but his wit and charm lately have won me over (Two and a Half Men, Valentine’s Day, etc.) But back in 2004, he made a horror/sci-fi flick called The Butterfly Effect that grabbed my attention.
Evan Treborn (Kutcher) realizes that he has the ability to travel back in time, to “choose your own adventure” with different results, when he reads through his journal. He desperately wants to change the course of his one, true love, Kayleigh (Amy Smart), who experienced even more traumatic pain than he did as a youth. Her father, George (Eric Stoltz), and brother, Tommy (William Lee Scott), inflicted most of the damage that Evan sees, so he works to change the course of the ripples so that they won’t affect her. But what happens if he is the problem?
In the “sequel” (and by sequel, I mean, it shared the name and general premise), Nick (Eric Lively) has the same “power” as Evan did, although there’s not much connection, if any. Nick wants to avoid an accident that took away Julie (Erica Durance, Smallville’s Lois Lane), but he also meddles to try and get a better job. Sure, the premise seems pretty similar but Lively is no Kutcher, and it’s not nearly as selfless in its delivery.
With the Blu-ray, you can get a better look at some of the special effects, but the Director’s Cut (multiple options for how the first story plays out) in Kutcher’s story makes for an interesting discussion piece. What would you do if you could change the past? Would you change yourself or would you change everyone else? Would you be guaranteed to use it for good? Would you be able to account for all of the ripples that your “pebble” has made in the course of a lifetime, however long that is?
Love it or hate it as science fiction or horror, I find the story asks big questions about how we relate to each other and how much responsibility we take for our own actions. In his parables and life, Jesus Christ often pointed the emphasis back on our “love of our neighbor,” asking his followers to consider how they were really living in an interconnected world. Chaos theory’s butterfly effect shows that every action, decision, or change dramatically impacts the way others’ lives are lived. Sure, that’s science fiction… but not in its absolute effect.