Produced by SK Films, FLIGHT OF THE BUTTERFLIES is a unique and memorable cinema experience that follows a tiny creature’s epic story of endurance on one of the most spectacular migrations on earth. On the trail of one of nature’s greatest events, we will witness, as never before, one generation from some 100 million monarch butterflies as they travel across a continent on a perilous journey of 1,000 miles or more ... and not to just anywhere, but to a remote forest on a Mexican mountaintop, a destination that was once an impenetrable mystery. The iconic monarch butterfly is a true marvel of nature. Weighing less than a penny, it makes one of the longest migrations on Earth across a continent, with pinpoint navigational accuracy, to a secluded place it has never been. Follow the monarchs' perilous and extraordinary journey and join hundreds of millions of real butterflies in the remote mountain peaks of Mexico. For the first time ever, witness the transformation from caterpillar to butterfly, inside a chrysalis, thanks to advanced MRI and micro CT scans. Be captivated by the true and compelling story of an intrepid scientist's 40-year search to find their secret hideaway, with the help of citizen scientists across North America.
IMAX films are always fun to watch. I'm not talking about the latest superhero franchise to be shown in IMAX, but rather the educational and entertaining short films that are filmed and shown specifically in IMAX theaters. These specific films always make it highly entertaining and fun to learn about a variety of subjects, whether it be animals or science related. Back in 2012, a Canadian filmmaker named Mike Slee, who is known for making these types of documentary films, wanted to tell the story of scientist Fred Urquhart, who discovered and researched the Monarch butterfly's journey from Canada to Mexico.
Part nature documentary along with moments of re-enactments with actors, this film tells the story of how Fred Urquhart discovered this journey, as well as a Monarch butterfly family as they make their trek across three countries each year. With the short 44-minute runtime, this movie wastes no time getting started. 'Flight of the Butterflies' shows you the stages of a butterfly's life, from how they start off as caterpillars, and within two weeks, grow 2000 times larger, till their eventual whole transformation into the Monarch butterfly.
It also shows how every few generations of the Monarch butterfly, there is a "super" generation that is stronger, faster, and bigger than previous generations in order to make the long trek across the countries. Meanwhile, you have Urquhart wanting to know just where all the butterflies go to in the winter from Canada, which has him and his wife, along with volunteer scientists tag butterflies and place editorials in newspapers around the globe, asking where all the butterflies have gone. They got some answers in Mexico.
The film is wonderfully shot by Slee and the IMAX cameras, showcasing all the finest details on the insects and their lives. In addition to the educational aspect of the film and the beauty of the scenic locations, is the story this tells of Urquhart. It's very emotional, even in its 44 minute time frame, where I found myself saying, "I'm not crying, you're crying." Yes, that really happened and it's that good and heart warming. 'Flight of the Butterflies' offers something for everyone, whether it be some information on butterflies, an amazing story, or just some gorgeous scenery - this film has it all.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
'Flight of the Butterflies' comes with an UHD 4K Blu-ray Disc as well as a standard 50GB Blu-ray Disc from Shout! Factory and is Region A Locked. The standard Blu-ray has the option to view it in 3D or 2D. There is an insert for the digital download code as well. The discs are housed in a hard, black plastic case with a cardboard sleeve.
'Flight of the Butterflies' comes with three options. One disc has the 4K UHD version with a HEVC/H.265 encoded 2160p transfer and is presented in 1.78:1 aspect ratio. The other disc has both a 3D version and a 2D version, both of which have a 1080p HD transfer and presented in 1.78:1 aspect ratio. For this particular review, I will talk about the 4K UHD version only. This 4K presentation is simply phenomenal.
The detail and colors simply pop off screen at all times. The finest of details show up easily in each scene as well. The exterior footage is magnificent that shows the plant life wonderfully and all of its richness. The textured and rigid wings of the Monarch's wings look incredible, which you'll be able to see clearly. You'll be able to notice the slight variations of color as well with each butterfly.
In addition to that, the detail of the caterpillars and their hatching is insanely good. Every tiny little detail shows up perfectly, as if it's real life and not in your television. Also, the flowers and leaves that the butterflies circle around look amazing, which in the exterior shots give the film some amazing depth. Colors are bright, vivid, and natural. Every thing is bold and pops right off screen. Shadows look incredible as well. Black levels are deep and inky at all times and the skin tones are natural.
Since this film was shot with IMAX cameras, you can expect some excellent telescopic shots of all the insects, and each closeup and image is perfectly shown with the best detail possible. It's like the butterflies came to life in your viewing room. There were no compression issues to speak of here, leaving this video presentation with top marks.
Like the video above, this comes with a quite a few options in the audio department, but for this review, I will be discussing its fantastic, yet simple Dolby Atmos track, where I used a 7.1.2 Atmos speaker setup with the normal 7.1 surround and two overhead speakers, plus a subwoofer powering this free-flying soundscape. There are a lot of moments in this movie where the screen is still and the soundscape fully immerses you in this outside world of the life of insects and creatures with wings.
You'll be able to hear each insect make their specific noise, hear their wings flap overhead, and even the wind blowing the plant life around. If you close your eyes, you'll definitely feel like you're outside in the thick of it. The overhead Atmos speakers definitely provide some great overhead flybys of the butterflies and other insects, which at some point will make you think that the winged creatures are actually in your house. Other than that, the rest of the audio is rather light and elegant.
The score always adds to the emotional element of the story being told, which is sweeping at times and funny in others. The narration and dialogue are always clear and easy to follow, and free of any pops, cracks, hiss, or high shrills. You won't find any explosions, gun shots, or any big audio effects here. Instead, you have an excellent nature filled soundtrack that is fully immersive.
Behind the Scenes (HD, 29 Mins.) - There are some interviews with the filmmakers, talking about the movie and the real-life story, as well as some footage of the butterflies and how they used the iMAX cameras to get some of the shots.
Special Message from the President of Mexico (HD, 2 Mins.) - Here is the former President of Mexico Felipe Calderon Hinojosa, discussing how animals and humans are all part of a connected world and life.
Image Gallery (HD, 2 Mins.) - Images from the film.
Trailers (UHD, 6 Mins.) - A few other trailers for other IMAX films.
'Flight of the Butterflies' soars high with heartfelt characters, animals, and emotions from start to finish. It also has a wealth of information on butterflies and their lives and journey across three countries. This real-life story is incredible and is told here very well. I'm just surprised Hollywood hasn't made a big budget movie of this story yet with A-List actors. It's that good. Yes, I cried during this too, and I'm willing to bet you will too. The video and audio presentations are both top notch and the few extras are decent enough, making this incredible release highly recommended.