Film Review: Metamorphosis

I have blogged before about the pending release of Illustra Media’s latest production, Metamorphosis, the first Illustra film to be offered on Blu-ray. (Please see that  post for more detailed info on film content.) After great anticipation, my copy finally arrived and I screened it yesterday. Here are my impressions of the film.

In a word…spectacular!

The disc menu opens with an enchanting sky shot of thousands of dancing butterflies set to a stirring soundtrack that reminded me of the music in the opening sequence of The Lion King– a perfect prelude to this brilliant production. I do not exaggerate when I say that Metamorphosis easily rivals the latest nature documentaries from BBC, National Geographic, and Discovery.

First, the picture quality and cinematography are outstanding. I viewed the disc on a 50″ 1080p plasma screen, and I was thrilled with the sharpness, clarity, and brilliance of the film. The footage used throughout is the epitome of visual poetry. I expected lots of zoomed-in shots of monarch butterflies; what I actually got was nearly an hour of stunning footage of many different species of butterflies, a dramatic documentation of their intricate life cycle and fascinating behaviors. I enjoyed the split-screen views often employed, and the time-lapse videography was mesmerizing. There really aren’t sufficient words to describe how well done this film is–I was spellbound from start to finish!

The narration is excellent. The voice is pleasant, the content is well-paced, easy to follow, and suits the videography perfectly. The film score is very nice, complementing but not overpowering other aspects of the film.

The educational content went well beyond my expectations. It is accessible to a general audience without feeling overly elementary. The scope ranges from mass migration dynamics to the detail that can only be seen with the aid of scanning electron microscopy. A description of the in vivo microscopy of the metamorphosis process is especially fascinating. The highly credentialed scientists and philosopher of science succinctly and winsomely explain the general biology of these incredible creatures and outline the positive argument for design that can be drawn from it. Never did this content even approach the edge of dullness.

Metamorphosis would be a fabulous tool for a private school biology class, in particular, but it’s suitable for a much broader use. I know I’ll watch it repeatedly, as much for the emotional experience as for the intellectual value.