HDTV Movie Premieres: April 16-22

Shrek 2: Sky Movies Greats, 6.55pm Saturday.

The Lord of the Rings trilogy is but one of dozens of pop culture giants that are grist for terrific gags in a sequel that’s even more irreverent and innovative. The meet-the-parents storyline isn’t as strong but the ‘toonmanship is sublime, with more detail, fluidity and texture. Mike Myers, Cameron Diaz and Eddie Murphy again lend their voices, along with John Cleese, Julie Andrews and Antonio Banderas, while Andrew Adamson co-directs with Monsters vs Aliens’ Conrad Vernon and Gnomeo and Juliet’s Kelly Asbury. (2004)

American Psycho: TV3, 10.35pm Saturday.

Christian Bale plays one sick yuppie in this adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis’ controversial best-seller about a post-modernist serial killer who releases his pent-up corporate 80s angst by cutting to pieces everyone from peers to prostitutes. Director Mary Harron captures New York’s cityscape with chic finesse but her dramatic treatment is strictly cut-and-paste, and while we’re spared the book’s most horrific passages, it also makes for a disconnected narrative that’s flatly told and directed. (2000)

Alvin and the Chipmunks: TV3, 7pm Sunday.

Before you write off this computer-generated singing chipmunks hit as kiddie fodder, consider that Film Threat awarded it four out of five stars for being cuter and funnier than expected. Even Roger Ebert acknowledged it’s “about as good a movie with these characters can probably be, and I am well aware that I am the wrong audience for this movie.” As was, obviously, the Austin Chronicle, which asked: “They shoot rodents, don’t they?” Jason Lee (My Name is Earl) and Jane Lynch (Glee) star. (2007)

Date Night: Sky Movies, 8.30pm Sunday.

Meet the Fosters: Phil (Steve Carell) and Claire (Tina Fey), a couple in the throes of marital malaise whose reckless break with tradition – a weekly ‘date night’ at their favourite suburban restaurant – sees them mistaken for Mob targets in after-hours Manhattan. The stars outshine the material but their chemistry and predicament, coupled with exquisite Big Apple locales and a corker cameo by Mark Wahlberg, make Date Night more durable than it deserves. Night at the Museum’s Shawn Levy directs.(2010)

The Aviator: Sky Movies Greats, 8.30pm Sunday.

Martin Scorsese’s lavish take on the early trials and triumphs of maverick millionaire Howard Hughes (Leonardo DiCaprio) is like the “Spruce Goose” of movies: lumbering and barely airborne. The problem isn’t merely with Scorsese’s direction emphasising the theatrical over the intimate but also a lightweight lead and a screenplay that glosses over Hughes’ uglier demons to make a hero out of a reckless go-getter who feared no folly. Cate Blanchett won one of the movie’s five Oscars, for playing Katharine Hepburn. (2004)

Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief: Sky Movies, 8.30pm Wednesday.

In this son-of-Poseidon adventure, Logan Lerman plays the modern-day, godly offspring who’s accused of stealing Zeus’ lightning bolt – and if the teenager doesn’t return it in time, all hell will break loose in the heavens. If the scriptwriters had been as ambitious as the visual effects wizards, Percy Jackson & the Lightning Thief might have had the crossover kidult appeal of another Harry Potter rather than limiting itself to juvenile heroics and corny dialogue. (2010)


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