4K UHD Review: Flight of Butterflies & Rocky Mountain Express

During trips to The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, they always have the latest IMAX nature films running in their theater. While the kids love a chance to sit back with their 3D glasses, most kids like to watch a film over and over to absorb more. Which is why it’s great that Shout! Factory is releasing the latest IMAX documentaries on the 4K UHD format so the visual education can be as resplendent watching them the at home if you have a 4K television. Flight of the Butterflies and Rocky Mountain Express are huge journeys taken by small insects and huge locomotives.

Flight of the Butterflies covers three countries. Fred Urquhart (played by Gordon Pinsent) is a man who has spent his life studying the Monarch Butterflies. The film tracks him from being a kid fascinated by the winged creatures that visited him in Toronto and flew away in the Fall to a point unknown in the South. Today’s kid would merely Google search to get answers off Wikipedia. Fred became a scientist and came up with a way to tag help track butterfly flight. He creates a group of citizen scientists across the country to help look out for the tagged wings. Where do the butterfly goes when they leave Toronto? Turns out the Monarch butterflies come down to Texas and lay their eggs on the milkweed plant since they know the leaves aren’t eaten by most other animals. This allows them to hatch into caterpillars without much danger. The film follows a butterfly named Dana and her offspring to show the way they move across America and up to Canada. But Fred thinks that the migration is more than Texas to Toronto. Where do they go in deep winter is the mystery explored. When Fred gets to see the answer, it’s an emotional high point his obsession of decades is rewarded. The film does a fine job explaining the life cycles of the butterflies in their journey and dramatic tale of Fred’s study.There’s even tips on how to set up a backyard flower garden that attracts Monarch butterflies.


Rocky Mountain Express is a mix of travelogue and a tale of taming the wild frontier. William Cornelius Van Horne was given the task to build the longest stretch of railway track on the face of the Earth. This movie is a testament to his accomplishment. The movie follows the rails that ran from Vancouver to Montreal with a focus being the challenging and picturesque mountain stretches. There was an urgency to this project since British Columbia had only agreed to join Canada if it could be connected by rail. The film gives the history of this project that claimed the lives of hundreds of men. The modern view is given from Canadian Pacific Railway’s restored steam locomotive numbered 2816. The views from the train using the IMAX cameras would make Hitchcock drool. This is perfect viewing for anyone who owns a model train set. The movie perfectly melds the old iron horse and the untouched beauty of the land on either side of the tracks. Watching the resolution on the travel shots makes this more than a movie. It’s a launching point for your next vacation. Director Stephen Low and crew have been able to convey to epic work of Van Horne and his crew.

Flight of the Butterflies and Rocky Mountain Express are a perfect double feature since together they barely run an hour and a half. Both films deal with unimaginable journeys across thousands of miles. They both about people obsessed with discovering unimaginable routes. Being able to bring both films home in 4K turns your TV set into extension of your museum visit.

The video is 1.78:1 anamorphic for both movies. The 4K UHD image is stunning for both films. The resolution will make you feel the wind in your face as the camera shoots outside the engine’s window at the approaching Rocky Mountains. The audio is Dolby TrueHD 7.1 that will absorb you into the atmospheric track of the locomotive sounds. There’s also French and Spanish dubs in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. The movies are subtitled.

Both 4KUHD sets also come with a Blu-ray featuring the film in 2D and 3D. The Blu-ray version comes with a code for the digital download.

Bonus for Flight of the Butterflies:

Special Message from the President of Mexico (1:28) allows him to talk about North America shares the Monarchs. He grew up in the area so he has a commitment to the butterflies. He invites you to visit the area.

Behind the Scenes (28:37) explains how the crew used IMAX cameras to bring people closer to the butterflies. Director Mike Slee had previously made Bugs. This is his insect follow up.

Image Gallery (1:11) includes close ups of the life cycle of the butterflies.

Bonus for Rocky Mountain Express:

NFB Videos has two early railroad videos made by the Nationa Film Board (of Canada) including Railroaders (21:20) and Romance of Transportation in Canada (10:56). Both were made in the ’50s and Romance has the animation work of director Stephen Low’s father.

About the Director
is a paragraph about Stephen Low.

Trailers for upcoming IMAX movies from Shout! Factory are included on both sets.

Shout! Factory presents Flight of the Butterflies. Directed by: Mike Slee. Screenplay by: Mike Slee & Wendy MacKeigan. Starring: Megan Follows, Gordon Pinsent, and Shaun Benson. Running Time: 45 minutes. Rated: Unrated. Released: July 12, 2016.

Shout! Factory presents Rocky Mountain Express. Directed by: Stephen Low. Screenplay by: Mike Slee. Running Time: 47 minutes. Rated: Unrated. Released: July 12, 2016.