It’s the third week of August and we’ve got something for every cinemagoer: a quality animated feature from Pixar, action adventure for blokes of a certain age and the return of sorts of a popular Hollywood franchise.
Brave is Pixar’s latest foray, an animated adventure set in Scotland featuring teenage Scottish princess Merida (the voice of Kelly MacDonald) who is too independent a spirit to just marry the first boy from another clan her mother and father orders her to. Brave is the first Pixar feature with a female protagonist and after the disappointment of Cars 2, it needed to be pretty strong. I am happy to report that, while it’s not a classic, it certainly acquits itself very well.
MacDonald as the central character is very good as are Billy Connolly, as the voice of her father Fergus and Emma Thompson as her mother Queen Elinor. Sometimes it feels more like a Disney than a Pixar film but visually it’s spectacular and there’s enough heart and soul in it to please both parents and kids watching. It will keep kids pleasantly occupied for a cinema visit.
Expendables 2 is the sequel to 2010’s movie which featured Sly Stallone, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren and Jason Statham as a group of mercenaries who travel the world fighting dictators. This time around, English director Simon West is brought on board to helm as shadowy Mr Church (Bruce Willis) brings the team together again for what should be a straightforward mission.
Expendables 2 features lots of vintage actors, among them Chuck Norris, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jean-Claude Van Damme (the villain here), who fans of Eighties-style action will welcome like old friends. West is a competent action director and so there’s plenty for the action addict and it’s knowing enough that there are a few nods to the fact that most of the cast are past their best. If you enjoyed the first film, you’ll certainly get something out of this spirited, tongue-in-cheek follow-up.
Finally, this week we have The Bourne Legacy, an attempt to resurrect a franchise that the world thought was wrapped up. Although star Matt Damon and director Paul Greengrass have moved on, the property remains alive. So here we have agent Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner) and government boffin Dr Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz) trying to find out how Cross became a government assassin and wean him off the drugs the shady US government agency addicted him to.
Renner and Weisz have a bit of onscreen chemistry and while director Tony Gilroy’s movie isn’t great by any stretch of the imagination, it’s a diverting watch. Though hardly the most necessary film ever made, Renner is given the chance to shine in an action adventure role that suits him to the ground and should please his growing legion of fans.