Written for RAF News Oct 2015
The lives of bees are full of rules and restrictions – not allowed to dream or sing or have fun. It’s a slippery slope as the shifty and stringent Buzzlina details: singing leads to playing and playing to laziness. However Maya is anything but lazy. An adventurous young bee who wants to explore the world outside of the hive and isn’t afraid to speak her mind – voiced by Coco Jack Gillies with a skittish energy.
After discovering that Buzzlina has stolen the royal jelly, the Queen’s elixir of life, Maya finds herself expelled from the hive, forced out into the world of other insects warned against in school. It is only once Maya and dorky friend Willy (Kodi Smit-McPhee) are out in the poppy fields that they realise other species aren’t that scary at all.
There is a nice message here that explains the fears of the hive to be imagined or misunderstood, underlining the importance of unity and camaraderie. The true villain of the film is Buzzlina, the betraying advisor to the Queen and oppressive force from within the hive.
Most of the film is spent with Maya journeying to the poppy field, meeting a whole host of insects and animals along the way. Although some creatures add a fleeting moment of comedy, the constant meetings grow tired. Fortunately enough there is a song to liven things up before Maya and her group of newfound friends set out to confront Buzzlina.
Maya The Bee has come along way since its initial publication over a century ago – from children’s book to live action silent film with real insects(…), and now computer generated with a new tv series in tow, which is surprising considering how lifeless and bland the film can be at the best of times.
Although a little dull, the saving grace is the casting of Gillies as Maya whose energy carries the film.
Just think of what it could have been – one bee stranded in a world of other possible threats, not unlike The Warriors, returning home whilst being chased for the big confrontation, just like Mad Max: Fury Road… so much potential, such a shame.