If you say you hate 3D movies, it's probably because you haven't seen an IMAX movie in 3D. The depth of field is incredible, and the sheer, overwhelming size of a true IMAX screen contributes to the three-dimensional illusion. A good nature documentary in IMAX 3D, like Born to Be Wild, drops you into a natural habitat in a way that a standard Discovery Channel documentary can't. So if you don't have the context for this statement, you'll have to trust me when I say that a 3D movie about butterfly migration is one of the most amazing things I've seen on a movie screen this year.
Unfortunately, Flight of the Butterflies in 3D makes some unfortunate choices with its narrative. It begins with a dramatization of the life of Dr. Fred Urquhart, a scientist who spent four decades trying to unlock the mysteries of the migration patterns of the monarch butterfly. Much of the film flips back and forth between cheesy dramatizations of Urquhart's life and the stunning butterfly footage, and the Urquhart scenes tend to drag a bit. The impulse to focus on Urquhart was absolutely correct—he enlisted a small army of "citizen scientists" to help him track the migration of monarchs, paving the way for modern data-gathering methods—but the schmaltz runs thick.
But Flight is totally worth it for the many shots of monarchs in their natural habitat, following them from Toronto through Texas and finally to their secret winter hideout in Mexico, where millions of butterflies cling to branches in a state of semi-hibernation. It tracks the lives of butterflies from birth (a single caterpillar in close-up taking up all six stories of Pacific Science Center's IMAX screen is something to behold) to chrysalis and, finally, to their continent-wide migration. Urquhart's story thankfully does improve as the movie goes along, and the climactic scene melds the two narratives together into something resembling a science-minded fairy tale ending. If you (or any kids in your life) are interested in insects, the scientific method, or beautiful nature films, you'll find a lot to love here.