MAYA THE BEE: THE HONEY GAMES
Directors: Noel Cleary, Sergio Delfino and Alexs Stadermann
Screenwriters: Noel Cleary, Fin Edquist & Alexs Stadermann, plus additional story artist Kevin Peaty.
Coco Jack Gillies
Benson Jack Anthony
Runtime: 85 mins.
Australian release date: 26 July 2018
Previewed at: Paramount theatrette, Sydney, on 11 July 2018.
“This is a man’s world,” James Brown famously crooned in 1966, but he then added the most important bit, “but it wouldn’t be nothing, nothing without a woman or a girl.” Now, Maya the Bee: The Honey Games comes along and upends Brown’s and Betty Jean Newsome’s lyrics completely – in Maya’s hive, it’s a woman’s world. They are, after all, ruled by a queen. This is the second film to feature the plucky Maya the Bee, and like the first it’s an Australian/German co-pro, and what a delightfully bright animation it is, with a strong message that girls can do anything boys can do… and do it even better! It was news to this reviewer that Maya the Bee is based on a German children’s novel that was first published in 1912. Those unfamiliar with 2014’s Maya the Bee Movie and the television series (shown on ABC TV) will be introduced to an adventurous and friendly little girl bee with a can-do attitude, not afraid to plunge in where others fear to tread.
In Maya the Bee: The Honey Games our heroine (voiced by Coco Jack Gillies) is dismayed to learn that her hive in Poppy Meadow has not been invited to contest the Honey Games in Buzztropolis. Against the wishes of her Queen (Justine Clarke), Maya decides to travel to the mega-hive to see if she can convince the Empress (Marney McQueen) to allow a team from her hive to compete so, accompanied by her best friend and side-kick Willi (Benson Jack Anthony), she sets off. When she offends the Empress, she is told that she can form a team for the Games but, if she loses, Poppy Meadow must forfeit their entire store of honey. Lacking time but with the help of her trusted advisor, the grasshopper Flip (Richard Roxburgh), Maya recruits a group of underachieving misfits that includes fellow bee Willi, ants Arnie and Barney (voiced by the Umbilical Brothers, David Collins and Shane Dundas) and an emo girl spider called Spinder (Jordan Hare). The odds are against them though, even before Maya meets the nasty Violet (Linda Ngo), the leader of Team Tropolis and daughter of Beegood (Rupert Degas), the Empress’s consigliere and Master of the Honey Games. What could possibly go wrong for the headstrong Maya?
In the film, the scriptwriters address issues about teamwork, working together, listening to others, mateship and that it’s okay not to know the answer to everything. These themes are clearly presented and the story is told with great heart and humour. Maya the Bee: The Honey Games is a colour-filled, fun film that will appeal to very young movie-goers and supply them, at least subliminally, with positive messages about engaging with their friends in the playground. And big people will enjoy it too.