The Butterfly Effect BD impressions
Isn’t it funny how the ravages of time can completely change your opinion of something? The other night, we sat down to watch the Canadian BD release of The Butterfly Effect, a film that I rated rather highly when I originally saw it back in 2004. Five years on and, while I can’t say I hated it, I was struck by just how inferior it was to how I’d remembered it. I still maintain that the premise itself is a rather good one, but it’s clumsily handled by first-time directors Eric Bress and J. Mackye Gruber (who also wrote the script and were, apparently, given the chance to get the film made on the back of the success of Final Destination 2, which they wrote). Furthermore, the internal logic is filled with inconsistences and nonsequiturs: for instance, if, going by the logic of the Butterfly Effect of the film’s title, a butterfly flapping its wings in Brazil can cause a tornado in Texas, why does Evan (Ashton Kutcher - yeah, him) continually going back in time and altering fundamental aspects of his past appear to have no effect on the world beyond his immediate circle of friends and family? Most criminally, though, the performances are, across the board, pretty damn poor, with Ashton “if I frown really hard people might mistake me for a competent actor” Kutcher taking home the top honours in this field. Ultimately, we ended up being entertained by the film, but I suspect not for the reasons its makers intended.
Anyway, let’s talk about the transfer itself, because I assume the reason you’re reading this post in the first place is because you want to know how it looks. “Pretty good, for the most part,” would be my response. The Butterfly Effect is a fairly stylised film with a lot of digital manipulation and a variety of different looks for the various “realities” in which Evan finds himself. His frat brother incarnation, for example, exists in a world of eye-searingly oversaturated colours and some pretty heavy grain reduction. This is all, of course, completely intentional, even if it’s not particularly pleasant-looking. At the same time, however, some shots have been digitally processed for no apparent reason. For instance, take a look at Example 7, which takes place in the “original” reality - I don’t think there are words in the English language to describe what has been done to this shot. The upside is that, barring these instances, scenes that are meant to be grainy appear to have been left alone, the prison sequence being a case in point. A handful of scenes have also been over-sharpened (see, for instance, Example 6), and, after doing some research, I’ve come to the conclusion that these instances seem to correspond with scenes that were deleted from the theatrical edition but re-instered for the directors’ cut, which is the version presented on this BD. Some dicey compression also crops up occasionally, generally in the form of grain being affected by mild artefacting, with some more noticeable blocking in the shadows (there’s some particularly nasty blocking in the scene where Evan meets Kayleigh outside the diner where she works). Perhaps the film would have benefited from a BD-50? (Although there’s actually a lot of unused space on this BD-25.) 8/10
The Butterfly Effect
studio: Alliance Atlantis; country: Canada; region code: A; codec: AVC;
file size: 17.2 GB; average bit rate (including audio): 20.65 Mbit/sec
PS. Apologies for the lack of posts recently. I’m up to my neck in work for my PhD, and while I discovered the other day that I actually have a week longer to complete my chapter than I previously thought, I’m still having to dedicate nearly all my time to it.