Butterfly Effect 3


by Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

This is the latest in a series of time-travel mysteries which originated with a 2004 theatrical flick starring Ashton Kutcher.  This time, the time-traveling Ashton 3.0 dude is eking out a living as a paid informant for the police. He goes back in time, watches crimes being committed, identifies the perps, and tries to observe clues which the cops can use as tangible evidence. The police don't quite "get it," of course, but all of his tips prove 100% reliable, which makes the ordinary detectives seem like Sherlock Holmes, so the coppers pay off Ash III and don't ask too many questions. It is frustrating for Ash-3 to have to sit idly by and observe while vicious killers slaughter their victims, of course, but the top secret time-travel rules, which he figured out with the help of a physicist, forbid him from doing anything to alter the past. He can only observe it.

Oh, you silly goose. You're thinking, "But his presence there, even as an observer, has to change things, and those insignificant changes in the past could multiply to significance in the present. What if the murderer spots Ashton III watching the crime, and changes his plans?" Oh, you're being so silly. You'll just have to accept the fact that nothing changes when he plays by the rules. Of course, that would make for a boring movie, so he decides NOT to play by the rules.

Here's the deal. He is visited by the sister of his ex-girlfriend, who was murdered. She says that the guy on death row for the murder is innocent, and produces convincing evidence of that. Unfortunately, the evidence is not convincing enough for the authorities, who plan to go ahead with the execution, but Ash-3 senses that the woman is correct, so he plans to go back, watch the murder, and identify the real killer. His sister, who knows about the time-travel power, says, "So, let me see if I understand this. You're going to go back and watch the love of your life get murdered, but you'll only observe. Yeah. What could go wrong?" His consulting physicist advises him similarly, but Triple Ashton is a stubborn cuss, and he goes back.

Well, of course, his sis and the professor were right. He just makes a right mess of things. People in the past recognize him; the girlfriend still dies; additional people get killed; Murphy's Law prevails. The person who killed his girlfriend in Present 1.0 has somehow turned into a serial killer when he returns to Present 1.1. He feels that he has to go back again to try to fix it. That fails, so he tries again, and so forth. The biggest problem is that every time he goes back he leaves his own DNA at a crime scene, so that every time he returns to the present, the police are that much closer to locking him up. Since he never does come face-to-face with the killer in his time travels, and since time-traveling makes him act crazy, we wonder if perhaps he really is the killer ...

That's all I can tell you. The film is entirely plot-driven, so I can't reveal much more.

There were all sorts of possibilities inherent in that premise, and I have to admit that I was really hoping that he actually was the killer and was not aware of it because of the various time-travel paradoxes. That could have been a nifty little twist, ala Angel Heart or Memento, where he finally realizes he is looking for himself. It did not go down that way. In fact, the way it did go down was far too mundane and gimmicky. The script solved the mystery by introducing completely new information in the last couple of minutes, and the denouement was driven by one of those familiar movie speeches where the killer voluntarily provides all the exposition in the final minutes just because chatty movie killers love to crow about their plans, gosh darn it. ("So you see, Mr Bond, I can now reveal my entire complicated plan to you because you are about to die. I won't tell you every detail, but I'll tantalize you with just enough information so that you know you could stop me if you could escape. That will make your death so much more frustrating for you, knowing what you could have done by escaping. Which, of course, you can't.")

Of course there are logic gaps, as there are in any time-travel movie. Take the obvious one. Ash-3 first goes back in time because a woman asked him to get the innocent guy off death row in present 1.0. When he returns to present 1.1, the innocent guy is a successful lawyer, the woman who asked him to help is dead, and his emotionally troubled sister is markedly improved. Problem solved. Sweet little 15-minute movie. Let's get a beer.

Of course, if the woman who asked him to help was killed ten years ago, then she couldn't have asked him to help, but ... well, now we're getting into matters that are not specific to this script, but apply to ALL time-travel scripts, which are inherently silly. If you are willing to live with that, then I'd say you might well enjoy the tricky plotting. I was really into it until the last five minutes. I wondered who the killer was, and I wondered how Ashton-3 could convince the cops he was innocent. I was, however, disappointed by the contrived "surprise" ending which did not follow logically from any of the preceding information, and I was even more disappointed by one of those awkward epilogues with a hackneyed "The End?????" wink to the audience.







6.0 IMDB summary (of 10)






Straight to DVD.





  • There is a very hot sex scene on a glass table, featuring the killer bod and colorful tattoos of "Malice," aka Melissa Richardson. Her home page




Web www.scoopy.com

Our Grade:

If you are not familiar with our grading system, you need to read the explanation, because the grading is not linear. For example, by our definition, a C is solid and a C+ is a VERY good movie. There are very few Bs and As. Based on our descriptive system, this film is a:


Given that it is a non-theatrical sequel, it's a surprisingly enjoyable genre movie which has everything except a strong ending.