Metamorphosis follows on the heels of past Illustra offerings, including Privileged Planet, Unlocking the Mystery of Life, and Darwin’s Dilemma. It’s probably true that with these films taken altogether, Illustra producer and documentarian Lad Allen has made the most easily accessible, visually stunning case for intelligent design available. If you have one shot at opening the mind of an uninformed and dismissive friend or family member, the kind who feels threatened by challenges to Darwinism, then presenting him with a copy of a 600-page volume like Signature in the Cell, or even a slimmer alternative like Darwin’s Black Box, would probably be less effective than choosing one of Mr. Allen’s DVDs. Among those, Metamorphosis might well make the best initial selection, since the argument for intelligent design doesn’t come in till the third and final act. When it comes, it’s a soft sell, preceded by a gorgeous, non-threatening nature film that only hints at what’s ahead in Act III.
In Act I, the focus is on the mind-blowing magical routine by which the caterpillar enters into the chrysalis, dissolves into a buttery blob and swiftly reconstitutes itself into a completely different insect, a butterfly. A cute graphic sequence shows, by way of analogy, a Ford Model T driving along a desert road. It screeches to a stop and unfolds a garage around itself. Inside, the car quickly falls to pieces, divesting itself of constituent parts that spontaneously recycle themselves into an utterly new and far more splendid vehicle. A sleek modern helicopter emerges from the garage door and thumps off into the sky.
In Act II, we follow a particular butterfly, the Monarch, on its journey to a volcanic mountain lodging site in Mexico for the winter, accomplished each year despite the fact that no single, living Monarch was among the cohort that made the trip the year before. Only distant relations — grandparents, great-grandparents — did so. Given the brief life cycle of the insect, those elders are all dead. The Monarch follows the lead of an ingenious internal mapping and guidance system dependent on making calculations of the angle of the rising sun and on magnetic tugs from ferrous metal in the target mountain range.
~ David Klinghoffer – Evolution News and Reviews