Flight Of The Butterflies

Featured In Issue 212, December 2016

WSR Score5
Basic Information on new release titles is posted as soon as titles are announced. Once reviewed, additional data is added to the database.
Shout! Factory
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Not Rated
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Mike Slee
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Dolby Atmos, Dolby TrueHD 7.1
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Flight Of The Butterflies is the story of the migration of the monarch butterfly and how their migration follows warming weather going north in the spring and how they flee cold weather as they migrate south in the fall. Many generations of monarchs are born during their migrations, so many of the monarchs that return to Mexico every winter have never been there before, yet they still find their way to the one hilltop in the mountains of Mexico where the monarchs spend every winter. (Doug Blackburn)

Special features include a making-of featurette (HD ), trailers, an image gallery, and a special message from Lic. Felipe Calderon Hinojosa, President of Mexico 2006-2012.

The digital intermediate is listed as 4K derived from Redcode RAW 5K images. This feature should have looked more consistently better than it does, given the high-resolution source. What appears on-screen are occasional glimpses of greatness, with long stretches of somewhat-better-than-HD images connecting the excellent moments. While this is a nature documentary, something about most of the sequences, when hundreds or thousands of butterflies were flying, have the look of computer-generated images rather than super-high-quality 4K to 5K images. There are a few times, like when the butterflies are shown clustering on tree branches that the photography was clearly “real” rather than animated. The images that don’t look fully “4K” quality have the appearance of “better than HD” but not full UHD resolution. That said, the Blu-ray 3D version of the movie is a highly enjoyable entertainment experience with butterflies coming at you from out of the screen all the way into the far distance.
The opening shot of a forest with butterflies in the trees looks like it should be sharper/cleaner/more resolved than it is. The image seems to hold back some of the detail that seems like it should be there but just didn’t make it onto the disc. Similar shots towards the end of the movie have the same “feel” to them. It’s not that the images look bad, far from it. It’s more a case of the images not looking as finely detailed as is expected from full UHD resolution. Aside from that reservation about some missing resolution, the images look great, with natural color and a “truthful” appearance that’s a great break from Hollywood movies that almost always have their color palette tweaked, making them look less natural. (Doug Blackburn)

The sound is, well, very good, but not exciting. Possibly the best moment of the soundtrack is the sound of thousands of monarch butterfly wings flapping at the same time during one of the Mexican mountaintop scenes. Don’t doubt you can hear that in real life—when living in Massachusetts, there were so many gypsy moth caterpillars eating oak tree leaves overhanging the driveway that you could hear them eating. The butterfly wing noises aren’t spectacular except for hearing them and understanding what created that unique sound. Everything about the sound is well done, but this isn’t an action-adventure movie, so the sound is relatively tame overall.(Doug Blackburn)