Sunday, January 4, 2009

The Butterfly Effect

"You can't change who people are without destroying who they once were." - The Butterfly Effect

Last night, thanks to Netflix, I watched The Butterfly Effect, starring Ashton Kutcher and Amy Smart. I'm sure this will be an unpopular opinion with my overly opinionated reader base, but I really really liked it.

However...

I watched the Director's Cut instead of the Theatrical Release. What I did not realize until I finished the film and watched the special features is that the Director's Cut has a very different ending than the movie you all might have seen.

I have to say that after watching the theater-release ending, I wonder whether I would have a different impression of this movie if I hadn't watched the Director's Cut first. The Director's Cut ends the way the script was initially written and the way the story was intended to end, and although it's much less "Hollywood" than the theatrical release (and much more grim and unusual), it's so much more in line with the rest of the film. Frankly although some people were shocked by the Director's Cut ending, I was shocked when I watched the ending shown in theaters. Based on the interviews in the special features, the original script seems to be what intrigued the cast and crew. It's interesting to see how the movie was sanitized in order to be backed by major studios. I understand why, but I have to say that the ending as it was initially intended to be asks bigger questions and makes more sense to me, even in its absurdity.

I generally tend to like the grittier, more powerful storylines and endings, so you shouldn't be surprised that I liked this one, as bizarre as it is. Because this ending is the difference between an unrealistic movie about going back in time to change the past, and a film that explores themes like destiny, genetic psychosis and sacrifice, while asking bigger questions, like what if you had never been born... or what if you were never supposed to be born at all.

Would I have thought the movie was stupid if my first impression of it was what was shown in theaters and on DVD before the Director's Cut was released? Unlike Evan in the film, I can't go back and change it - so I guess I'll never know.

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(In case you saw the film already but haven't seen both endings, I've included them below for your viewing pleasure. Sorry about the subtitles. If you haven't watched it yet, SPOILER ALERT! But seriously I don't recommend watching the endings if you haven't seen the movie - first of all because if you ever are going to see the movie, this will ruin it, and secondly because they'll be totally out of context for you.)

Theatrical ending:


Director's Cut ending:

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