Judge Dawn Hunt managed to avoid the stinger but still got hives.
Disclaimers always come first so here we go: I have not read “Maya the Bee and Her Adventures” or “Heaven Folk” by Waldemar Bonsels, the source material from which Maya the Bee Movie (Blu-ray) is drawn. So I can’t say whether or not the characterizations are on point or anything like that. Also I, like everyone else I know, do not own a 3D Blu-ray player so I will not be detailing the specifications of that experience, just the 2D version.
Maya (Coco Jack Gillies, Mad Max: Fury Road) is a newly hatched bee who has an insatiable curiosity about the world around her. This inquisitiveness leads her to leave the hive and explore The Meadow, the world outside as the bugs know it. Maya worries she will never find a place where she fits in unless she conforms to the behavior of her fellow bees. When the Royal Advisor Buzzlina Von Beena (Jacki Weaver, Silver Linings Playbook) kicks Maya out of the hive after the latter catches Buzzlina hiding the Queen’s Royal Jelly she goes on a quest to find Flip (Richard Roxburgh, Murderous Intent), a friendly grasshopper who acts as Maya’s Mr. Miyagi. But Maya isn’t alone, she is joined by perpetual failure Willy (Kodi Smit-McPhee, Let Me In), whose loyalty to Maya only slightly outweighs his constant fear he’s going to get eaten.
The duo soon meet Sting (Joel Franco), a young hornet whose father Hank (Andy McPhee, Saving Mr. Banks) leads the hornets…who happen to be the honeybees’ mortal enemies. When both the honeybees and the hornets are led to believe the other group has committed a foul act against them a mutual extinction event is set into motion. But Maya knows the truth and so she leads a diverse group of insects to hopefully put an end to the fighting. This leads to a new acceptance between not just the bees and hornets but indeed all the insects that live in The Meadow.
Maya doesn’t break new ground in terms of storytelling. It’s in the same vein as A Bug’s Life and Antz, to name a couple. However the target audience won’t notice or mind, especially since this is aimed at the preschool set. While I freely admit the movie surprised me with one of the funniest beats in a film I’ve seen this year overall my attention was not riveted.
This is a bee-utiful (had to do it!) film. The 2.40:1 aspect ratio transfer is full of eye-popping visuals. The way the flowers and sunlight are drawn is really astounding, and the colors are so bright the kiddos will hardly be able to tear their attention away. The palette is dominated by yellow, to no surprise, and the range is anything from a pale butter to a rich gold, almost coppery tone. Maya the Bee Movie (Blu-ray) is a lovely disc to look at. In terms of the audio I had an issue with the soundscape mix, particularly the dialogue. I had trouble hearing some of the words at times and had my volume turned up more than halfway at points. The few songs which are incorporated fare better but still for a 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track I was really surprised by the issues I had.
When looking at the special features we need to start with the myriad of ways the film is able to be viewed. You get 3D and 2D Blu-ray versions, a DVD, and also a digital copy of the film. Then we have some bloopers, and a short episode of Maya the Bee the TV show. We round out everything with the trailers of the film which includes the International offering.
Maya the Bee Movie (Blu-ray) carries an oft-heard message: when you’re true to yourself you can do anything. And though it is a time-worn sentiment it’s also one which bears repeating for the target audience. Anyone outside of the target demographic will likely not engage with the movie but if you have younglings then take heart knowing Maya doesn’t sting. Bee-lieve in yourself and your ability to know whether to choose this film.
Exactly what it claims to be…a B(ee) movie.