The Butterfly Effect appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This was a mostly appealing presentation.
Sharpness usually appeared good. Some mild softness crept in at times, but not on a consistent basis, so the movie was usually tight and well-defined. No signs of shimmering or jaggies occurred, but a few shots demonstrated light edge haloes. Print flaws remained absent.
Effect featured a stylized palette. At times, colors became intentionally cold and stark, whereas other times, the hues were made to seem oversaturated and dense. The disc handled the various gradations well, as the tones always came across as solid and appropriately defined.
Black levels seemed deep and dark, while shadow detail was clear and sensibly heavy without excessive thickness. Despite a few minor missteps, this was generally a good image.
The Butterfly Effect also offered a positive DTS-HD MA 5.1 experience. The soundfield seemed fairly heavily oriented toward the front spectrum, but it broadened nicely when necessary. The forward channels showed fine stereo imaging for the score, and they also provided a good sense of general atmosphere.
Really, that attitude dominated Effect. Not many scenes featured active use of the surrounds; those elements mostly appeared during Evan’s flashbacks, which became very involving. Instead, the soundtrack more strongly favored a creepy ambience meant to accentuate the movie’s dark tone.
Audio quality appeared good. Dialogue always remained natural and distinct, though a smidgen of edginess occasionally affected the lines. Music seemed bright and vivid, and the score showed solid dynamics and clarity.
Effects also came across as accurate and vibrant, and the whole track evidenced solid low-end response at times. When appropriate, the flick demonstrated a very strong bass punch that lacked any boominess or distortion. Ultimately, the mix for Effect failed to make “A”-level due to its relative lack of multichannel ambition, but the track seemed pleasing nonetheless.
How did the Blu-ray compare to the original DVD? Audio showed greater range, and visuals were tighter and more dynamic. The Blu-ray delivered the expected step up in quality.
The Blu-ray offers all of the DVD’s extras. The Science and Psychology of the Chaos Theory goes for eight minutes, 59 seconds as it combines video bits to illustrate concepts as well as interviews. We hear from Cal Tech University Professor of Physics Dr. Peter Goldreich, and psychotherapists Dr. John D. Biroc and Constance Kaplan. They discuss the concepts of Chaos Theory as well as its history and offer some examples and the way it works on people. The show provides a soundbite look at the subject, but it seems reasonably informative and interesting.
After this we get The History and Allure of Time Travel. This 13-minute, 24-second piece presents comments from Kaplan, Biroc, Michael Pogorzelski of the Academy Film Archive, and AFI’s Ken Wlaschin. They go into the reasons people take interest in time travel tales as well as examples of those sorts of flicks over the years. They get into details of the genre and provide a decent history of the genre. It’s another basic but good program. (Someone needs to tell Wlaschin that his “favorite” time travel flick isn’t called Bill and Ted’s Exciting Adventure, though.)
We also locate a fact track. This text commentary uses the subtitle area as it provides small factoids that appeared throughout the flick. It covers subjects connected to areas of the film. For example, we learn about psychiatry and time travel in movies, the effects of smoking, the length of a pig’s orgasm and mourning rituals, among other topics.
The material seems sporadically interesting, but the factoids don’t pop up frequently. I doubt many people will want to try to attend to the film itself and read the fact track at the same time, as it could become very distracting. On the other hand, if you check out the movie just to examine the subtitles, you’ll feel irritated by the infrequent use of the feature. Chalk this up as a fairly weak text commentary.
Now we head to an audio commentary from directors/writers Eric Bress and J. Mackye Gruber, both of whom sit together for a running, screen-specific chat. Clearly excited about the process, the pair prove lively and engaging. They go into topics that mostly focus on filmmaking elements like visual design and sound elements.
You’ll learn that “Miller Red” isn’t a kind of beer, as they point out the symbolism and use of color throughout the movie, and they also get into other ways they manipulate visuals to work for the flick. In addition, we learn about the variations between the director’s cut as well as plenty of notes from the set such as working with actors both leading and minor. A bit too much praise for the people and product pops up, but overall, this feels like an entertaining and informative piece.
Another featurette, The Creative Process runs 17 minutes, 50 seconds as it presents the usual mix of archival materials, movie snippets and interviews. We find notes from Bress, Gruber, producers AJ Dix and Chris Bender, director of photography Matthew F. Leonetti, and actors Ashton Kutcher, Eric Stoltz, Melora Walters and Amy Smart.
We hear about how Bress and Gruber connected, origins of the story and its path to the screen, various impressions of the tale, its subject matter, pre-production issues, storyboarding, casting and the actors’ approaches to their roles, the directors’ approach, shooting in a real prison, and fight choreography and stunts.
Though “Process” covers many subjects, it doesn’t offer much depth. A lot of happy talk appears, as we hear how great the directors and actors are. The various subjects fly by so quickly that most issues get reduced to soundbites. Some good tidbits still appear, but this remains a somewhat lackluster and disjointed show.
Next we learn about the flick’s Visual Effects. In this 16-minute, five-second program, we discover info from Bress, Gruber, Leonetti, visual effects supervisor Ralph Maiers, and visual effects coordinator Christopher Elke. They chat about the time-travel visuals, the “butterfly effect”, different visual concepts and their evolution, memory flashes, making Kutcher armless, explosions, and a few other elements. This show presents greater detail than usual for this format, as it gets into the different areas pretty well. It covers most of the topics nicely, and the inclusion of shots that depict the many stages of the effects help make this a solid program.
Within the Storyboard Gallery, we get a compendium of 11 sequences. These run as side-by-side comparisons, with the boards on the left and the final movie on the right. All together, they run seven minutes and eight seconds. These don’t do much for me, but the presentation seems fine.
In addition to the film’s trailer, we also find a collection of nine deleted/alternate scenes. When viewed via the “Play All” option, they fill six minutes, 33 seconds. One offers an alternate take of a scene, while some others provide minor additions. The most intriguing clips are the two unused endings. These provide slightly sunnier variations on the conclusion featured in the theatrical version and don’t resemble the conclusion seen in the director’s cut at all.
We can watch the deleted/alternate scenes with or without commentary from Bress and Gruber. They provide some decent details about the snippets and usually tell us why the bits got the boot. Unsurprisingly, the comments about the alternate endings provide the most interesting moments.
Critics mostly savaged The Butterfly Effect when it hit theaters, but I frankly don’t see why. I thought the movie was clever, engaging, and daring, as it presented a dark and evocative look at the perils of tampering with the past. The Blu-ray brings us good picture and audio as well as a satisfying set of supplements. I like Butterfly Effect and recommend this Blu-ray.
To rate this film visit the original review review of THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT