Neil Fox on Film: Brave, The Bourne Legacy, Expendables 2

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Brave

If ever there is a week of releases that highlight the problem with mainstream cinema, this is it. Each of the major releases, in their own way, show that originality and craft are more on the wane than ever in commercial cinema.

That might be a controversial thing to say about the latest from Pixar, a company renowned for quality and integrity, but alas it is clear that what was once a formidable attention to originality is being replaced by more cynical approaches.

With sequels to Monsters Inc and Finding Nemo on the way, and another Toy Story mooted, the brilliant studio is more and more interested in lowest common denominator output.

Brave is a beautifully animated film that tells the story of a young princess who wants to fight for the right to be independent.

Admiral as this is, the film relies on too many cliché moments in telling the story, from jokes to plot points.

As much as it looks incredible, it feels like we have seen it before, and coming off the back of the lamentable Cars 2, this is a sad thing to say about the people who gave us so many incredible original works and characters.

Sadly, yet again it’s the girls who get short shrift with the first Pixar female lead having to fill a role that so many of her predecessors have already filled. Worrying signs from a once unstoppable force.

The Bourne Legacy

You’d think if you’d made something as satisfying as the Bourne trilogy was, with a star like Matt Damon who made that role his own, you’d just leave it alone.

But Hollywood doesn’t like to do that, it likes to make money.

So here we have the excellent Jeremy Renner as one of the ‘others’ in the programme that spawned Jason Bourne, now fighting for survival when nasty Edward Norton wants to wipe out the existence and the memory of it all.

It has some great moments, some great action and as usual the cast is top notch, but due to lazy, over-explained exposition it never escapes the feeling that it’s just trying to bleed an idea dry.

The Expendables 2

Look at that line up – the dream team for an entire generation of boys. And smartly, it includes the cream of modern action cinema bumping pecs up against a formidable who’s who of the genre. It gels the massive cast together and sets up action scene after action scene and quickfire quip after quickfire quip. What’s wrong with it?

Well, like The Bourne Legacy and Brave, it’s not as good or as much fun as it should be because it’s shot through with desperation to please existing fans. It doesn’t help that before the film is even out producers are talking up which stars they want next time.