One needn’t have necessarily grown up with a dog who becomes uneasy prior to the arrival of a big thunderstorm to know that environmental occurrences and problems are often foretold by subtle shifts in behavior in the animal kingdom. Such is the working hypothesis in this investigative nonfiction mystery, which examines the baffling and sudden disappearance of honeybees from their hives, a disturbingly increasing phenomenon. The first of two new documentaries on the subject, the forthrightly titled Vanishing of the Bees, narrated by Oscar nominee Ellen Page, shines a light on a fascinating and important subject, but in the end analysis suffers a bit from some comparatively lax filmmaking, failing to provide the sort of detail which would more robustly engage the typical layperson viewer.
Part of the problem is that the film basically solves its central mystery at a certain point, and then leaves a bunch of correlative natural questions frustratingly unaddressed. That said, Vanishing of the Bees is still fairly interesting for casual foodies and the environmentally conscious alike, including as it does compelling subjects and thoughtful chats with Food, Inc.‘s Michael Pollan and Beyond Pesticides director Jay Feldman, among other interviewees. Like the Discovery Channel’s Dirty Jobs, it provides a remarkable glimpse at an uncommon profession, as well as sounding another cautionary note about the delicate relationship between humankind and Mother Earth. For the full, original review, from ShockYa, click here. For the trailer and information on tickets to the L.A. premiere, click here. (Hive Mentality Films, unrated, 87 minutes)