The Butterfly Effect 3: Revelations is a straight to DVD sequel that surpasses all expectations by being the best of the series. Time travel is a well-exploited trope in both literature and cinema, with notable examples including Ray Bradbury's influential short story A Sound Of Thunder - which is credited with creating the "butterfly effect" term - and the Back To The Future trilogy. The original Butterfly Effect starred Ashton Kutcher as Evan, who suffered through a traumatic childhood but discovers the ability to travel back through time by reading his old journals.
The Butterfly Effect showed Kutcher - who was then best known for comic roles like That 70's Show - was capable of a solid dramatic performance, but despite its intriguing premise, it received mostly negative reviews. This revolved around its faulty plot logic and often lurid handling of the material; that said, it's developed a sizeable cult fandom over the years. The movie is considered a flawless sci-fi classic compared to 2006's The Butterfly Effect 2 by director John R. Leonetti (The Silence). This STV entry involves a man who can travel back in time by looking at old photographs, but after going back to prevent a terrible accident, his good deed has unforeseen consequences. The sequel is little more than a sloppy, cheaply made knock off of the original and received roundly negative reviews.
There was a period during the 2000s when it was popular to produce low-budget, straight to DVD sequels to theatrical releases just to trade off name recognition. This led to surprisingly great follow-ups like Universal Soldier: Day Of Reckoning, but it also produced utter junk like Hostel: Part III. It's rare for a franchise to improve by the time it goes straight to DVD, but 2009's The Butterfly Effect 3: Revelations defied the odds by being a genuinely solid time travel thriller.
The Butterfly Effect 3 follows Sam (Chris Carmack, Grey's Anatomy), who can travel back to any point in his own lifetime, and he uses this ability to help the police solves crimes. He never tries to change the past, however, and is all too aware of the dangerous implications. Being a movie called The Butterfly Effect, he naturally breaks this rule to solve the case of his murdered girlfriend, and the effects of altering the past soon ripple across his life. He also discovers his troubled sister has the same gift, and might not be using it for the greater good.
The Butterfly Effect 3: Revelations has some well-executed twists and turns, the cast is solid and is more entertaining than previous entries. A lower budget and numerous plot holes - which is common for movies about time travel anyway - can spoil the fun, but it's a sequel that learned from the mistakes of previous entries to deliver a surprisingly good little movie.