Warner Bros. // 2006 // 92 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Paul Pritchard (Retired) // August 1st, 2012
The Phenomenon Continues...
Despite taking something of a critical drubbing, 2004's The Butterfly Effect proved to be reasonably successful at the box office, picking up a few fans (myself included) along the way.
Buoyed by the film's success, a sequel was commissioned almost immediately. The result, 2006's direct-to-video release The Butterfly Effect 2, reeks of being a cash grab. Effectively retelling the same story with only minor tweaks, The Butterfly Effect 2 may not be the worst film you'll ever see, but given the chance, you'd risk a couple of nosebleeds for the opportunity to travel back in time and stop this flick going into production.
Following the death of his girlfriend Julie (Erica Durance, Smallville), Nick Larson (Eric Lively) discovers he has the ability to travel back in time and change past events. Traveling back to the day of the accident that took Julie's life, Nick is able to save her and alter history. However, the consequences of his actions lead to changes in the present that Nick is forced to confront, or -- by once again utilizing his newfound abilities -- change.
Where The Butterfly Effect contained unexpected twists and a worthy cause, its unnecessary sequel -- imaginatively titled The Butterfly Effect 2 -- is totally predictable and invokes little empathy from the viewer. Containing no real continuation to the events of the original film, The Butterfly Effect 2 simply repeats many of the same tricks with a far less likeable cast of characters.
What made the original The Butterfly Effect work so well was that the character of Evan Treborne (Ashton Kutcher, Two and a Half Men) acted selflessly, and was motivated by love. In The Butterfly Effect 2, Nick's actions -- though initially noble -- are soon corrupted by greed, greed, and more greed. Nick begins the film as a likeable enough guy and leading man Eric Lively does a good job of portraying the suffering he endures from the loss of his girlfriend, Julie. However, each successive trip through time results in him becoming increasingly hedonistic, and -- considering the hurt he felt at losing his beloved -- it seems odd that he is then so quick to discard their relationship for a promotion at work, as his ambition swiftly moves from a life with Julie to wealth and all of its trappings.
Seemingly aware of the plot's repetitive nature -- not to mention the fact that it adds absolutely nothing to premise laid out in the original film -- the character of Dave Bristol (David Lewis) is introduced to act as an antagonist of sorts. The problem is that Bristol is not a bad guy. Sure, he's an a-hole, but his motivations are revealed to be no worse than Nick's, and so an entire plot thread is wasted.
Compounding the film's problems is a final act that falls apart spectacularly, as common sense goes out of the window all together. Attempting to ape the element of self-sacrifice from the original film, The Butterfly Effect 2 completely misses the point, and rather than leading to a big emotional payoff, Nick's actions only lead to snorts of derision.
Having previously given the world Mortal Kombat: Annihilation, director John R. Leonetti delivers a direct-to-video movie that, at least in terms of its visuals, is a step above most of its peers. The occasional bursts of action, which includes one or two moments of blood-spilling violence, are also handled well, and Leonetti ensures such moments contain a suitable level of tension. Michael D. Weiss's (Hostel: Part III) screenplay suffers from being far too indebted to the original film, to such an extent that it lacks the conviction to try anything new.
The Butterfly Effect 2 (Blu-ray) contains a clean 1.85:1/1080p transfer that is generally quite pleasing. Colors are strong, as are black levels. Though the picture is sharp, it lacks the level of detail one would expect, leading to textures appearing waxy in places. The DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio mix does its job without making a fuss, delivering clear dialogue and effects; but not once does it truly excite.
Director John R. Leonetti is joined by co-producer Michael Stirling for an audio commentary. The track is informative, with the two filmmakers discussing each scene in turn rather than regaling the listener with anecdotes. The "Altering Reality: On Set of the Butterfly Effect 2" featurette is a fairly standard "making of," but is interesting when it is revealed how changes were made to the film throughout its development.
The Butterfly Effect 2 is the very definition of an unnecessary sequel. Nobody needed a sequel to the original, yet -- seemingly spurred on by its unexpected success and the chance to earn a few more dollars -- Warner Bros. went ahead anyway. The result is a film that treads the exact same ground as 2004's The Butterfly Effect, but with none of its purpose or surprise. Warner's Blu-ray release is solid, and offers an audio-visual upgrade over the original DVD release.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Warner Bros.
* 1.85:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 92 Minutes
Release Year: 2006
MPAA Rating: Rated R