Monday, March 7, 2016

Fly Away, Fly Far, Far Away

Back in 2003, I snuck into the opening of The Butterfly Effect for the sole purpose of watching the trailer for the Dawn of the Dead remake. For whatever reason, I decided to make the most of my crime and was surprised at how much I enjoyed the film. While it's not a masterpiece of modern horror, it had a fresh premise and explored its possibilities with a certain earnestness.

The idea of turning it into a franchise was quite promising. The very nature of butterfly effects gives you endless opportunities to explore, much in the way the Final Destination series had free reign over using any disaster. A person discovers that he or she can go back in time and change the past but has no real idea of what future that can bring. GREAT! How about a politician not making a decision that begins a war, a detective stopping a serial killer before the first murder, heck, even a bartender not letting an inebriated customer fatally drive home. There's a LOT of ground to explore.

So let's pick the most boring human being alive and spend 90 minutes with his career woes instead.

Quick Plot: Nick is a blandly attractive twentysomething in love with his girlfriend and married to his job. You would be too if said job was "salesman for a startup technology company."

So let's pause right there to consider the first fatal flaw of The Butterfly Effect 2. With a premise that gives a film ample opportunity to explore the many paths one's life could take, why, why dear god did we decide to start with the dullest character imaginable? Look, I have nothing against salespeople, but does anyone looking for a unique horror movie want a movie about them? Especially when he's a blandly attractive twentysomething whose only definitive character trait is, well, being a blandly attractive twentysomething?

Anyway, Nick, his girlfriend, and their two friends are enjoying a peaceful camping trip until a work call from Nick's super interesting startup company leads to a hasty and fatal car accident. Nick recovers alone and in a depressed state, learns that he can go back in time and change past decisions using photographs.

Oh, it also helps when you google such specific topics as "dreams."

Having butterfly effected his way to a living girlfriend, Nick is now annoyed with his SUPER IMPORTANT STARTUP COMPANY and how his smarmy supervisor rules with a bratty fist. Naturally, Nick butterfly effects again in a way that leads to a big promotion and the yuppie lifestyle any blandly attractive twentysomething craves.

Guys, I'm serious: this is what the movie is about.

There are loan sharks, sort of. There's a surly boss. Another car accident. Public bathroom sex. A fairly offensive gay gangster. Nick’s girlfriend has dark hair at one point. His mom visits. 

This is the movie.

Look, not every film needs to be about superheroes or Holocaust survivors or vampire hunters or minorities. I get that. But when you make the whitest movie imaginable with the whitest cast of milennial yuppies you can gather in a selfie, you have made me a very, very angry woman. I haven’t even mentioned the bizarre ending choice to have a character just (SPOILER ALERT, but you really shouldn’t care) drive off a cliff when there were just a dozen or so other ways he could have solved the situation. If that wasn’t enough, Nick is apparently reincarnated as his own baby. The less I think about that plot point the happier I am.

And just in case it hadn't succeeded in wasting my time, The Butterfly Effect 2 then Leprechaun: Origins'd its credit sequence to pad out its 71 minute running time with nearly 15 minutes of repeated imagery from the film. By that point, I realized I would have been far better off just rewatching Leprechaun: Origins. 

High Points
They made a sequel to The Butterfly Effect!

Low Points
It was this movie

Lessons Learned
Don’t drive like an idiot and you won’t have to butterfly effect your life into a boring mess

80 percent of all startups fail in their first two years

80 percent of all startups fail in their first two years

80 percent of all startups fail in their first two years

Did you get that? Because the movie REALLY wants to make sure you did


Some viewers gave The Purge a hard time for providing such a great and innovative concept for a horror movie and filling it with a standard and trite home invasion narrative. I strongly defend that film for starting small, knowing it could further develop and explore its premise in subsequent sequels (and you've seen The Purge: Anarchy, you know that they wasted no time going bigger...and maybe too much so). But f$ck The Butterfly Effect 2. This is a movie that already had the ground work of its somewhat unusual premise set. It could have used that to explore ANYTHING. And it chose to focus on the blandest of bland white guys doing the blandest of bland white guy things. Unless you're REALLY into startup business politics, this is a true waste of 90 minutes. Purge it.  

1 comment:

  1. I managed to miss this one. In fact, I had no idea there were sequels until the third film was included in one of the 8 Films To Die For sets.