Maya the Bee 3: The Golden Orb review – pants ants antics

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The third instalment in the animated insect franchise for kids is a buzz-free disappointment

Maya the Bee: The Golden Orb. Dismally low on fun … Maya the Bee: The Golden Orb. Photograph: Kaleidoscope EntertainmentDismally low on fun … Maya the Bee: The Golden Orb. Photograph: Kaleidoscope Entertainment

As cinemas reopen in England, normal service resumes in the world of little kids’ films. First up for the under-fives is Maya the Bee 3, the latest instalment of the sappy, sentimental franchise from Australia.

In the new movie plucky little bee Maya (voiced by Coco Jack Gillies) and her best friend Willi (Benson Jack Anthony) get lumbered with transporting a golden egg to the ant colony at Bonsai Peak. Of course, the egg cracks en route, leaving the pair holding the ant baby – an adorable squidge they nickname Schmoosh. Cue some ant nappy-changing and lessons about responsibility. Weirdly, there is next to nothing specific about bees; with a little tweak here and there in the script, you could substitute bees for chipmunks or dinosaurs.

The baby ant, it turns out, is a princess who is destined to become ruler of the colony. But a knucklehead, turbo-charged beetle with a six pack called Bumbulus (Christian Charisiou) tries to kidnap her so that he can run the ants off the mountain. Like the Incredible Hulk of the insect world, he bounces through the undergrowth with his goons.

The film is bright and sunny, and the sense of life at ground level is nicely done in places. Everyone in this world is food for another creature; even the beetles cower when a cute little birdie swoops in looking for breakfast. Still, it’s cheap-looking and dismally low on fun. The novelty of being in an actual cinema should sell it to the tinies. Parents will probably find themselves reaching for their phones.

Maya the Bee: The Golden Orb is released in cinemas on 17 May.

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