A Glaring Error in ‘The Butterfly Effect’

As there’s currently talk about rebooting the film ‘The Butterfly Effect’, I thought I’d talk about a scene in the original film that really annoys me. Spoilers ahead!

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I love sci-fi and fantasy films. If I’m watching a film and you tell me that it’s set in a world where the human race lives on spaceships, I’m totally on board (so to speak). If the main character is a creature called a ‘Hobbit’ with hairy feet, I’m SO up for following him on his adventure. I’m willing to accept a lot of fantasy elements that are established within films, as long as they play by their own rules.

The Butterfly Effect is a film about a dude who can change the past by reading his old diaries and stuff and effecting his memories in a way that change the events in his life that lead up to the present day. It’s pretty far-fetched, but it’s not entirely terrible, despite starring Ashton Kutcher. My problem isn’t with the premise of the film, my problem is that the movie forgets what it’s own premise actually is!

There is one moment of the film in which our main character has been up to his time-alteration antics and has ended up in prison and is not making many friends. To stop his impending death, he decides to get his cellmate on his side.

His cellmate is a (somewhat stereotypically) religious latino guy. Ashton decides it’s a great idea to use his childhood diary time-machine thing to pretend to be some kind of religious prophet, in an attempt to become palls with his cellmate. He reads his book and we see a particularly troubling scene where child-Asthon changes the past slightly by shoving two spikes through the palms of his hands. We then cut back to ‘present day’ when the latino cellmate then notices the scars on the palms of his hands and takes him to be the son of God (and therefore someone worth saving).

The problem here is that because he went back and changed the past, but only so much so that the only thing to change would be that he would have scars on his hands later in life, he would have those stigmata scars when we entered the prison in the first place. So when he is trying to convince the guy he’s special, and sits down to read the diary, and then shows the dude his scars, he’s had the scars this whole time.

The cellmate reacts as if they appear to him before his very eyes. He doesn’t react as if they have been there the whole time and he’s only just being shown them. They are literally appearing on Ashton’s hands before him. This completely contradicts the whole premise of the film.

I know that the actor who plays the latino guy probably isn’t to blame, he probably wasn’t given any direction or told what he should be reacting to. It just seems as if this scene was put in as ‘a means to an end’. Ashton needed to convince the guy using his time-travel skills and they didn’t know exactly how to have him do it, so they put this scene in and either didn’t think it through, or just thought no-one would notice.

It’s deus ex machina of the worst kind.

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One comment

  1. I totally agree with you. It’s not like he teleports through time, somehow, his mind does, what jumps around in time is his own mind, that’s why when he lands on the ‘present’ after changing his past, he doesn’t remember a thing until all memories come rushing to him. If he did that thin with the spikes in his youth, then he’d have those scars the whole time. They only wanted to make the prison scene a little more dramatic by making him fight those dudes or whatnot, because the could have ended that moment of his life by just making him do something when he was a child that changed his life in a way that he didn’t end up in jail.

    I know they previously established that if he went back in time and didn’t change a thing he’ll end up in the same timeline, so if he went back in time and did something as drastic as impaling his own hands on spikes, that should have affected his life enough to make a significant change in that timeline where he doesn’t end up in jail….or better jet…he ends up as being a bad ass in jail :D

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