Beekeeper Review: Adam Clay

When I first learned we were getting an action movie called The Beekeeper, I had to wonder if I had somehow willed it into existence. After all, I’ve been reviewing fictional Beekeepers as action heroes since this post in 2014, and I have been advocating for Beekeepers to be in such a role since the era of Pirates vs Ninjas debates on the Internet. This movie feels like the culmination of my teachings. Now, I have no interest in reviewing the quality of the movie (what kind of loser cares if movies are good or not?), but I have to know: how does protagonist Adam Clay rate as a Beekeeper?

Adam Clay, this name is just his current alias for the record, is a Beekeeper in more than one way. He does actually keep bees and cares for them and give honey as a present to his friends and all the stuff I consider basic Beekeeper stuff. This alone would rate him a 2/5.

But is he an action hero? Well, I should say so. Clay is retired from a secret extra-governmental organization that call themselves “Beekeepers”. They are given unlimited resources to train these incredible secret agents who act outside the bounds of the law, with the idea that they will do what is best to protect society’s weak and vulnerable (Ah, to live in an imaginary world where those with power want to protect the weak and vulnerable. Must be nice). As a former agent of this group, Clay is highly trained in combat, armed and unarmed, and is a resourceful strategist and talented tactician. He can create bombs and rig up traps with improvised items. At times he seems as much like a slasher killer taking out his targets as he does an action hero. Suffice it to say, the guy can fight. That’ll move him up to 3/5.

But, beyond the standard set of Action Hero skills that strain plausibility, he has no supernatural abilities. He can’t talk to bees or control them or any of that. One could make up for a lack of supernatural abilities by being really on-brand. If you dress up with a picture of a bee on your chest or wear exclusively yellow and black striped shirts, that impresses me. Clay doesn’t do that, but he does talk an awful lot about Beekeeping and protecting the hive and all that. So he doesn’t lose points, but doesn’t gain any.

But how about Beekeeper Rage? One thing I’ve noticed in doing these reviews is that a lot of Beekeepers lash out when they get angry and that usually costs them some points. How does Adam Clay do here? Well, when his friend’s life is ruined and his own hives are destroyed, Clay does indeed lash out. But, perhaps it is is training with the covert organization, he lashes out in the right direction. He intends to avenge his friend and protect other weak and vulnerable people by cleaning out the corruption in the hive that is our society. He attacks the right targets. Heck, any time he’s not working in self-defence he even gives his targets warning so they can flee and swear off doing evil. He intends to kill, but he’s not indiscriminate. Honestly, if everyone’s anger was so well controlled, we’d be better off. I say Clay loses no points for Beekeeper Rage and, in fact, it looks good for him:

Four Honeycomb out of Five. A high quality Beekeeper. Could a sequel come along and improve it? Well, I’m certainly willing to write one, Hollywood! Let’s have Adam Clay ride around in a helicopter designed to look like a giant bee! Let’s do this!

There are other “Beekeepers” in the movie, it’s worth noting. There’s a whole organization, right? We’re told that the organization decides to stay neutral in the conflict, with the exception of Clay’s direct replacement, who is described as a “lunatic” and he takes her out with relative ease. We’re never shown if she actually keeps bees at all (though she does have a book about beekeeping in her car and there are hive around her base). Are all members of the organization actually apiarists in addition to using the metaphor? Probably. Maybe. Who knows? Anyway, they’d surely, as a group, rank somewhere around Clay.

At Some Point I Watched Really Weird Tales

For a long time I’ve had a vague memory of a movie or episode of some anthology television show in which a woman was cursed so that any time she said “I love you” to someone, they would turn into a doll. The way I remembered it was that, at the end of the story she was fixed and realized that she could say it finally so she jubilantly shouted “I love New York” or “I love this town” which I thought at the time was reckless. But anyway, I had this memory, but never thought much about it.

On a whim I tried to search Google for it tonight. I got nothing. I could only find episodes about evil dolls and the like. I was flummoxed. I was sure I’d seen this thing. I assumed it was some episode of Outer Limits or Amazing Stories or something, niche sure, but mainstream enough that it’d be talked about online.

I reached out to other people I know to see if they remembered it and with their help I eventually seem to have found it. Really Weird Tales seems to be the answer. The thing is, the woman in Really Weird Tales (played by Catherine O’Hara no less!) does NOT turn people into dolls by saying “I love you” to them. What she does is if she loves someone (whether she says it or not) they explode. That’s in the same ballpark, but it’s a different game. But I kept watching and at one point she feels affection for a doll and it explodes. So is that it? My childhood mind conflated that with turning people into dolls? NO! There’s more. In an attempt to cure herself she has to go on a date with someone she finds repugnant, so she does that, but it goes poorly. That said, we do get the “I love New York” scene that was so embedded in my memory. AND THEN it turns out that the repugnant guy has a thing where if he hates someone, they turn into a doll! So the movie has the love thing and the doll thing, they’re just in different people than I remember. Clearly this is the movie I saw as a kid, my memory just got some things twisted.

But it gets weirder, because during my search I was led to a Reddit post by someone else trying to find the movie and that searcher ALSO remembered it as her turning people into dolls. Memory is weird.

An Amazing Rocket Racer-Adjacent News Item

Somehow, the broken remnants of capitalism and copyright laws have led to an announcement that I could not ever have anticipated. The Hypno-Hustler could become the star of a movie.

This is fascinating to me. I’m aware that Sony is limited in which Spider-Man characters they can use to make movies, but I feel like they’re scraping the bottom of a barrel when there’s still lots of other stuff in the barrel they could be using. Spider-Man has a thousand villains and fellow heroes that I would have predicted could be chosen before Antoine. Heck, realistically, I would have thought Rocket Racer had a better chance and I didn’t really think he had a chance at all. And somehow the Hypno-Hustler gets it.

Don’t get me wrong, I would have thought I was among the biggest fans in existence of Rocket Racer’s friend with the guitar, but it turns out that someone out there is clearly a bigger one (or at least they are a similarly-sized fan with more ability to do something about it). And it feels like good news to me because clearly the only way this could happen is if someone actually cares about Antoine.

A movie like this could actually turn a joke of a character into a rounded out human. I’ve always thought that making Antoine into a three-dimensional being that audiences cared about would be one of the earliest writing challenges I would tackle given the chance, and now someone is probably gonna beat me to it. I’m thrilled, but admittedly jealous.

There are multiple ways this can go wrong:

  • It’s possible that the movie could fail so hard that the character is seen as unworkable. This is the one I fear the least, because the character is already considered bad and I don’t think anything they could do would make that worse. I’d actually be more worried about this for a Rocket Racer movie, where I feel like the character actually has a little bit to lose. Antoine has nothing to lose, and the fact the creators must care about him makes me think this isn’t going to happen.
  • It’s possible this could only be Antoine as I like him in name only. Heck, they might call him “Hypno-Hustler” and not even keep the Antoine Delsoin identity. Just rebuild him entirely from scratch. Look at how the Prowler seen in Miles Morales stories is not the Prowler from the comics that I liked (though the other Prowler is admittedly pretty cool in Spiderverse). But even so, the article above mentions that the musical aspect of the character is important to the project, so even if you call him Buddy Thrummer or something other than Antoin Delsoin, you’re going to have a music-based hypnotist who presumably does crime, it’s going to be closer than I ever would have expected.
  • It’s also possible that the movie could become too successful and that would ruin the character for me. If the Hustler becomes a hot new property, and starts showing up in every Marvel comic every month and he pals around with all the superheroes and does the same quips they all do, he would lose the characterization I like. One problem I have with the Marvel stuff is how small their universe feels these days. I remember after the success of the Guardians of the Galaxy movie I saw comics about the Guardians hanging around Earth so they could team up with all the heroes there. I hated that. The Guardians are supposed to out in their own cosmic corner of the Marvel Universe, but they had to hang out with Captain America and Deadpool, so their specialness was thrown away to make them a cog in the machine. If Antoine suddenly becomes one of the “important” characters, I’d lose interest him as one of the loser. I always choose the losers over the big important people. But this I also don’t fear too greatly, because my mind just can’t comprehend a world in which the Hypno-Hustler becomes important.
  • The movie might not actually come to pass. This one seems like the most likely possibility. I do believe that they are honestly working on this thing with intent for it to come out, but many things can happen that would stop it. Another pandemic? Character rights shifting to another company? Economic collapse? Any of these options or more could stop this movie in its tracks. And even then, we’d just be back where we started with the character.

So even with the bad outcomes, there is nothing TOO bad. I have no reason but to be excited for this movie. So let’s all be excited for the Hypno-Hustler.

Beekeeper Review: Amanda and Chrissy Williams

The Beekeepers I’m looking at today run a honey farm called “Chrissy’s Honey Bees” and are the main characters in the 2022 movie Umma. Only two people run Chrissy’s Honey Farm, those being Chrissy and her mother Amanda Williams, with the former being the one who instigated this family business. When she was just a child Chrissy acquired a book about beekeeping, brought it home, and demanded that they start doing it. Until then Amanda had been an accountant, but she always tried to be a perfect mother, so she overcame her own dislike of bees to indulge her daughter’s hobby. Starting with a single hive, they grew the operation into a business that could provide for them both. They’re so successful at the start of the movie, when an online influencer has spoke well of them online causing an unprecedented demand for their honey, they have to expand the farm even more to keep up.

But things aren’t perfect for this duo. Amanda was raised by an abusive mother who would go so far as to use electricity to harm Amanda. This has left Amanda emotionally scarred and terrified of electricity, to the extent that she claims to have a medical allergy to electronics (It’s likely Amanda’s original dislike of bees was because their buzzing reminded her of electricity). With this background, it is no surprise that Amanda abandoned her mother, changing her family name and ignoring her cultural heritage, even creating a fictional “grandparents” to tell Chrissy about. Now Amanda and her daughter live “off the grid” on a farm with no phones, no lights, no motor cars, not a single electronical luxury. (They do use candles at home, but I don’t know if they use their own bees’ wax to make them.)

The problems they face in this movie stem from Chrissy growing up. She’s lived a sheltered life and wants more, she wants to go to college. Amanda is protective of her daughter, who has trouble fitting in, and doesn’t want her to go, but risks becoming controlling in a way that reminds her of the abuse she went through. Coinciding with all this, Amanda learns her mother has died and the ashes have been brought to her. What results from this emotional turmoil is a haunting in which three generations of women have to deal with their emotions and traumas and place in the world. Beekeepers versus ghosts is a great setup for me, but the fact that the family keeps bees doesn’t really factor into the horror plot here. At one point the bees do seem to respond to the haunting, but not in any way that matters.

In the end Amanda breaks the cycle of abuse by confronting the ghost of her mother and making a kind of peace with her, but never denying the damage done. I’d consider this a very beekeeperly move, if the bees had been in any way involved (maybe as psychopomps to help the souls of the living and the dead communicate?). And Chrissy does get to learn more about her culture and gets to go to college, but I’m sure she won’t give up on Beekeeping. Her name is in the company’s name after all.

Three Honeycombs out of Five. They’re above average Beekeepers for sure, but the beekeeping doesn’t tie into their supernatural adventure here, so I can’t go higher.