Story: As each month of 2020 rolled out, it seemed as if a new, chaotic surprise was around every corner, even as a global pandemic raged on. One of the bullets we dodged however, turned out to be the murder hornets, giant hornets from Japan that seemed poised to wreak havoc. The hornets were driven to attack bee colonies and leave behind total losses, making them a serious threat to our ecosystem. In Attack of the Murder Hornets, we are taken inside the hunt for these brutal murder hornets in a race against time to protect the bee population. The imposing threat isn’t battled by well funded, well equipped soldiers however, instead the mantle was taken up by mostly citizen scientists and frantic beekeepers. The groups search all over for signs of the hornets and seek to find the nests, which would allow them to wipe out the invasive murder hornets. But can a ragtag cadre of bug enthusiasts, scientists, and bee keepers take down this lethal threat to mankind and if so, what can we learn from the murder hornets and their dangerous path of destruction?
Entertainment Value: The murder hornets were hyped up a few times during 2020, with their potential presence capturing the attention of the internet. Of course, no wide scale assault was ever launched by the murder hornets and in this documentary, we get a look at how the beasts were shut down. The narrative here tracks groups of concerned citizens working with some governmental aid, who are focused on finding, tracking, and eliminating the murder hornets. This has them in search of the nests, but despite a massive assortment of traps and lures, the group struggles to find even one murder hornet. Eventually the teams do indeed find some murder hornets, but even when those successes are present, the unknown properties of the hornets combined with some bad luck cause unexpected moments. I think most will watch this out of a fascination with the much discussed hornets and they will leave well informed, thanks to a wealth of scientific data on the murder hornets, including their original name. The documentary is able to weave in all that information so well, keeping you interested even if you’re not looking for in depth science, so you’ll likely pick up some solid knowledge here. The movie also knowns when to ease off the lab based science and take us into the field, to see the hunt for the hornets for ourselves. I think things switch between focuses often enough and smoothly enough to hold the audience’s attention, while also maintaining a good pace.
Attack of the Murder Hornets also benefits from having some interesting folks involved, especially when the focus shifts to the in field work being done. You might not find any Joe Exotic level characters in this one, but there are some colorful people and in a field like hunting murder hornets, that’s to be expected. There isn’t a lot of time spent on the personal stories of those involved, but a little probing is done here and there. You can tell these folks have a real passion for what they’re doing, whether seeing their utter devastation when mistakes are made to the sheer jubilation around their successes. A special note has to be given on the guy who owned the property where the hornets were often seen, as he proves to be quite an asshole and perhaps an even bigger villain than the hornets themselves. In the end, Attack of the Murder Hornets is a brisk, yet informative documentary that might remove some of the mystery of the hornets, but also shines a light on the phenomenon as a whole.