HDTV Movie Highlights: May 29-June 4

Bottle Shock: Sky Movies, 8.30pm Saturday.

What should have been a corker romp about wine snobbery is a cloudy array of clichés, stereotypes and blended storytelling. Alan Rickman is marvellous as a struggling Paris wine merchant who, in 1976, visits the fledgling wineries of Napa Valley to concoct a blind, New World-Old World tasting test to boost his sales, confident that the locals will need more than vintners’ luck to win. However, the promise of this Provence vs provincial premise is diluted by trite subplots about generation gaps, racial divides and broken hearts. Bill Pullman and Chris Pine co-star. (2009)

The Marine: TV3, 10.55pm Saturday.

Said The Hollywood Reporter of this action-adventure starring pro-wrestler John Cena as an Iraq War vet on the trail of his kidnapped wife: “The film’s saving grace are its fast pacing and generous doses of humor, the latter of which is mostly provided by Robert Patrick’s sly delivery of the many wisecracks doled out by his villainous character.” Kiwi Manu Bennett (Spartacus: Blood and Sand) co-stars. (2006)

Star Trek: Sky Movies, 8.30pm Sunday.

Has a sci-fi franchise ever lived as long or prospered like Gene Roddenberry’s? This enterprising, new-generation prequel to the original is shrewdly cast and retains only Leonard Nimoy’s Spock for a pivotal cameo in a complicated, alternate reality plot that’s not as much fun as the visual effects. JJ Abrams (Mission: Impossible III) directs Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto and Karl Urban. (2009)

Mystic River: Sky Movies Greats, 8.30pm Wednesday.

Director Clint Eastwood relocates Unforgiven’s themes of manhood, retribution and the begetting of violence to modern-day Boston, where three friends are reunited as adults because of a murder that echoes a child abduction tragedy in their youth. It suffers from contrivances and an ending too ambiguous for its own good but otherwise is a CGI-free showcase of powerhouse writing, acting and directing. Sean Penn, Tim Robbins and Kevin Bacon star. (2003)

Behind Enemy Lines: TV3, 8.30pm Thursday.

Exciting if corny shoot-‘em-up set in the Balkans, starring Owen Wilson as a jaded US pilot on the run from Serb troops after his F-18 is shot down for flying outside authorised air space. Because of a pending ceasefire and NATO politics, his commander (Gene Hackman) is powerless to mount a rescue mission and he is forced to find his own safe zone while being pursued across snowy southern Bosnia. The scenario and characterisations are hackneyed but Wilson’s adventures are varied and suspenseful, the hand-held camera work heightens the realism, and peppered amid the bullets and the bombs are some unusually trenchant reflections on war and politics. (2001)

Blood Work: Sky Movies Greats, 8.30pm Thursday.

A geriatric cop (Clint Eastwood) is saved from death by a heart transplant but there’s a soul-searching twist: the donor is the latest victim of a serial killer he’s been stalking and who wants to keep him alive for his own sick kicks. Plodding, undistinguished execution means Blood Work barely gets by on the intrigue of this dilemma and faltering goodwill for its star. (2002)

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