Sunday, 2 November 2014

Maya The Bee Movie (2014) - Movie Review

Starting this habit of seeing every movie available to me has been simultaneously the best and worst idea I’ve ever had. Best because it’s given me a chance to see movies I wouldn’t normally check out and broadening my cinematic horizons; Worst because it frequently puts me into weird positions of being incredibly out of place amongst the audiences for some movies. Today’s film represents one of those situations, where I’m the only guy in the cinema who doesn’t have a child watching the movie with him.

The plot: Maya (Coco Jack Gillies) is a wild and carefree bee who, upon an evil plan by the royal advisor (Jacki Weaver) to take over as Queen, has to stop her with the help of her many insect friends, all the while trying to prevent all-out war between the bees and the hornets.

The main message of the film is one of tolerance for people who are different than you are, while I can certainly appreciate the sentiment, this is as worn-out a message as can be found in mainstream cinema. It is one of the easiest to convey because, quite frankly, it’s a matter of common sense: Be excellent to each other, party on dude! I have seen it done countless times before, and seen it done better countless times before. Not that the execution is bad or anything; it’s just lesser by comparison.

The production, as a whole, is… average. It’s a film adaptation of an animated TV show and it looks like it, with animation that barely passes DisneyToon levels of quality; all the characters looks extremely rubbery, like you could just bounce them off of the walls for hours unabated. It’s full of nice bright colours that, considering the intended age range, is meant solely to keep the kids occupied for its relatively short running time, giving the whole package an extremely processed and sugary feel to it.

The voice acting is passable, with a few recognisable names but none of them really bringing the energy you would expect. Richard Roxburgh, whom say may remember from his hamtastic roles in Van Helsing and Moulin Rouge, does okay with his role as Flip the grasshopper but doesn’t really bring anything special to the part. The rest are just as okay, although Miriam Margolyes gives a certain regal dignity to her role as Queen of the hive that shows her experience in voice acting over the others. Don’t get me wrong, Kodi Smit-McPhee blew me out of the water with his role as Norman in Paranorman, without a doubt one of the best family films in recent memory, but here he just does what is needed and nothing more. The writing is quite punny, although nowhere near the level of Planes: Fire And Rescue and also nowhere near as painful to listen to since some of the jokes actually got a chuckle out of me, but overall it’s just baseline humour that will mostly appeal to kids and no-one else.

Some people may give me crap for choosing to review a kid’s movie, since they supposedly can’t be held to the same standards as other movies, but I personally don’t think that’s true. In the last few years, we’ve had films like The LEGO Movie, Frozen, Paranorman, The Boxtrolls and the How To Train Your Dragon series prove that family films can stand head-and-shoulders above the rest. However, they also show why there is a clear divide between ‘family’ films and ‘children’s’ films, and this most certainly is one of the latter. If you’re going to see it at all, wait for it come out on DVD and distract the little ones while you do other things, because there is very little that adults will get out of this movie.

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