Maya The Bee (U)



Comedy (2014)
88mins Australia/Ger

Starring: Miriam Margolyes, Richard Roxburgh, Noah Taylor, Coco Jack Gillies, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Jacki Weaver
Director: Alexs Stadermann
Writer(s): Marcus Sauermann, Fin Edquist
Listings: London | Rest of UK and Ireland

Busy Bee 396 - or Maya as she is christened - bursts into the world and excitedly savours every sight of the hive. Her teacher at Bee-School, Miss Cassandra, encourages her to explore, but some of Maya's escapades incur the wrath of royal advisor Buzzlina Von Beena. It transpires that Buzzlina and her snivelling hench-sect Crawley are plotting to steal the royal jelly that keeps The Queen on the throne.

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LondonNet Film Review
Maya The Bee (U)

Based on the German children's book by Waldemar Bonsels, Maya The Bee is a cutesy and inoffensive romp for preschoolers, who have grown up with Dora The Explorer and her animated kin. Alexs Stadermann's film - a co-production between Australia, Germany and Belgium - has a lively vocal cast and a palette of retina-searing primary colours that should prevent parents buzzing off for a cheeky power nap...

Maya The Bee. Copyright: Primal Screen/Entertainment One. Caption: Maya (voiced by Coco Jack Gillies) takes flight in Maya The Bee. Copyright: Primal Screen/Entertainment One. All Rights Reserved.The quality of the animation is basic and the script follows a linear path as the eponymous protagonist shows her winged brethren that different species can live in harmony if they just open their hearts to each other. Sentimentality, as sticky and sweet as the honey gathered by Maya's swarm, drips from every frame. Older audiences, hoping for some of the artistry and sophistication of A Bug's Life, Antz or Bee Movie, will be sorely disappointed. Fin Edquist and Marcus Sauermann's script trades heavily in insect puns for chuckles but does unexpectedly manage one belly laugh with some clever wordplay involving a platoon of marching ants.

Busy Bee 396 - or Maya (voiced by Coco Jack Gillies) as she is christened - bursts into the world and excitedly savours every sight of the hive. Her teacher at Bee-School, Miss Cassandra (Justine Clarke), encourages her to explore, but some of Maya's escapades incur the wrath of royal advisor Buzzlina Von Beena (Jacki Weaver). It transpires that Buzzlina and her snivelling hench-sect Crawley (Noah Taylor) are plotting to steal the royal jelly that keeps The Queen (Miriam Margolyes) on the throne. Without this miraculous tonic, the monarch's health will fail and Buzzlina can seize the throne and declare war on the hornets led by Hank (Andy McPhee). A chance encounter between The Queen and Maya sets the young stinger on her path to adventure. "Every bee has a role to play," counsels the hive leader, inspiring Maya to venture into the surrounding meadow, where she befriends a young hornet called Sting (Joel Franco) and a grasshopper called Flip (Richard Roxburgh). The great outdoors is viewed with terrible suspicion by the other bees. "Stay in the hive. Stay alive!" they chant. However, plucky and spirited Maya shows them that bees can forge alliances with their neighbours, while exposing Buzzlina's nefarious plot with the help of best friend Willy (Kodi Smit-McPhee).

Maya The Bee doesn't outstay its welcome at 88 minutes, setting up Buzzlina as a pantomime villainess who must be brought to justice by the end credits. Nine-year-old Gillies radiates sweetness as the humming heroine, who has "got more spark than a barrel full of lightning bugs". Weaver, Margolyes and co offer solid supporting vocal performances, keeping the film airborne when dialogue falls flat.

- Jo Planter

Maya The Bee. Copyright: Primal Screen/Entertainment One. Caption: Maya (voiced by Coco Jack Gillies) takes flight in Maya The Bee. Copyright: Primal Screen/Entertainment One. All Rights Reserved.


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