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THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT 2

Directed by John R. Leonetti
Produced by Chris Bender, A.J. Dix, Anthony Rhulen, JC Spink
Written by Michael Weiss
Director of Photograpy Brian Pearson
Music by Michael Suby
Cast: Eric Lively, Erica Durance, Dustin Milligan, Gina Holden

2006/92 mins/Color/Dolby Digital 5.1
1.85:1 anamorphic/English/USA/NTSC Region 1

Review from the New Line Home Entertainment DVD

It's rare for movie critics to reach any sort of consensus. Even when they love or hate a movie, it's usually for different reasons and on different levels. However, I would wager that when nearly every critic finished watching 2004's THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT, they thought, "Wow. That was pretty deep for a movie starring Ashton Kutcher." That film, which dealt with time-travel and alternate realities in a very dark manner, earned over $57 million at the box-office. Thus, we have the direct-to-DVD sequel THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT 2. But, does this one have the same intensity?

As THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT 2 opens, we are introduced to Nick (Eric Lively), a young man who is on a weekend retreat with his girlfriend, Julie (Erica Durance) and their friends, Trevor (Dustin Milligan) and Amanda (Gina Holden). Nick and Julie are very much in love, and from their conversation, we learn that Julie has given up an opportunity to go to New York to study photography in order to stay with Nick (in Seattle, I believe). This romantic day is interrupted when Nick gets a call from his boss, and thus, must go to work. On the way back to the city, Nick's car has a blowout and the vehicle is t-boned by a tractor-trailer. Nick awakens from a coma to learn that Julie, Trevor, and Amanda are dead.

The story then jumps ahead one year. Nick remains quite depressed and is barely getting by at work. He has also been experiencing severe headaches which are accompanied by nose-bleeds. In a moment of desperation, Nick concentrates very hard on a photo taken on the day of the wreck and finds himself projected into that day. Reliving the day, he is able to avoid the accident and thus save his friends. Yet, everything isn't perfect in this reality. As Nick learns to master the ability to leap into alternate realities, he also learns that changing an important event here or there, will change everything and doesn't always lead to positive results.

I'm not a huge fan of the term "unnecessary sequel", but it certainly applies to THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT 2. (I've had at least three people see the DVD on my desk and say, "They made a BUTTERFLY EFFECT 2?") The first film was interesting, but it was also quite dark and depressing, and I've had no urge to see it again, much less to see a sequel. THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT 2 somehow manages to be a carbon-copy of the original, but without the emotional impact.

Screenwriter Michael Weiss has created a serviceable premise for THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT 2, with the auto accident propelling Nick through the story, but this foundation never leads to much. The movie emulates THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT as each leap through time/space yields various consequences, some favorable, some not. But, unlike the first movie, there is a real emotional disconnect here. Obviously, we feel for Nick when he loses his lover and his friends, but his travels through reality only yield subtle changes, and they have little impact on the viewer. THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT often veered into dark fantasy with the changes the characters went through (the scenes involving the physical changes in the main character in that film were quite jarring), but things remain comparatively light in this new film. Actually, this movie is more like a continuation of GROUNDHOG DAY, rather than THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT, as Nick lives the same year over and over, as opposed to the same lifetime.

Another difference here is the main character's motivation. In THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT, the main character changed things mostly to create variance in the life of his true love. Here, Nick seems to be making the changes to suit himself. When he brings Julie back to life or betters his position at work, we know why he's doing these things, but it doesn't help us connect with the character. Also, the original film had the very creative connections between the main character's childhood and his adult life. With THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT 2, we have none of that as we are simply treated to Nick living the same moments in different ways.

As a whole, THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT 2 isn't necessarily a bad movie, and if it wasn't a sequel, it wouldn't be that bad. But, as there is a movie to compare it to, it's flaws are quite evident. The movie is hollow, shallow, and unfulfilling. (It's also short. Don't be fooled by the 92 minute running time. There's 11 minutes of credits.) It lifts the premise of the first film, but forgets to fill in the emotional content. Do yourself a favor and don't leap into this picture.

THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT 2 attempts to set things right on DVD courtesy of New Line Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 185:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The transfer on this DVD is impressive, as the image is sharp and clear. There is very little grain to be had here and there are no overt defects from the source material. The movie has very muted tones, as it's bathed in blues and greys, and the bright colors really stand out against this background. The image did show some mild artifacting, but it wasn't distracting. The DVD carries a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track. This track provides clear dialogue with no distortion. This is one of those tracks which is a true mixed bag. Overall, the sound is good, and the surround and bass effects are very good...during the reality leap scenes. During these scenes, the sound effects fill the speakers and there's a generous amount of bass. Yet, in the rest of the film, there aren't a lot of subtle surround effects, thus detracting from the experience.

THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT 2 DVD contains a few special features. We start with an AUDIO COMMENTARY from director John R. Leonetti and co-producer Michael Stirling. This is an interesting, but not overly-exciting commentary as the two discuss the film's production. They do a fine job of recounting particular scenes and talking about the ways in which they stretched the film's limited resources. "Alternate Reality: On the set of THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT 2" (15 minutes) is a making-of featurette which offers comments from the cast and crew and a wealth of behind-the-scenes footage. Here, the filmmakers discuss the fact that the film was shot in 20 days and that the script was constantly being rewritten to suit the available locations. The final extra is the film's trailer.

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Review by Mike Long. All Right Reserved. 2006. ©

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