HDTV Movie Premieres: August 20-26

The Happening: TV3, 8.30pm Sunday.

Everything but the script is happening in another eerie tale from writer/director M Night Shyamalan (The Sixth Sense, Signs). It stars Mark Wahlberg and Bridge to Terabitha’s Zooey Deschanel as a couple in the wilderness trying to survive a mysterious airborne plague that sparks mass suicides across the East Coast of the United States. After a masterfully suspenseful and unsettling build-up, The Happening comes unstuck with an ending that tries to be both apocalyptic and happy. (2008)

Takers: Sky Movies, 8.30pm Sunday.

Jumper’s Hayden Christensen, Matt Dillon and Paul Walker star in an obscure B-grade thriller about a filthy-rich gang of thieves who methodically plan one last robbery that could cost them everything. The New York Post thought it a “Michael Mann-ish heist thriller with a pulse-pounding foot chase and some terrific stunt work offsetting its hackneyed plot and dialogue” while Variety likened it to “an unusually violent and action-packed episode of Entourage”. John Luessenhop, who’s filming The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3D, directs.  (2010)

Love Actually: Sky Movies Greats, 8.30pm Sunday.

You’d have to be a humbug not to like this Yuletide romantic-comedy but it’s too sappy and trite to love. Richard Curtis, who also wrote Four Weddings And A Funeral and Notting Hill, made his directorial debut with this sprawling ensemble affair that struggles to knit 10 or so story strands into one. A hugely charismatic cast makes Love Actually funnier than it actually is yet less would have been more. Hugh Grant, Colin Firth, Keira Knightley, Bill Nighy and Emma Thompson star. (2004)

Transporter 2: TV3, 8.30pm Monday.

There hasn’t been a sequel this bad since Speed 2. Transporter 2 doesn’t just insult your intelligence – it assumes you don’t have one. How else could the filmmakers have expected to get away with nearly 90 minutes of escapist piffle that’s so absurd it makes the original look positively Hitchcockian? The time ex-Special Forces ace Frank Martin has to rescue a kidnapped six-year-old and save the world from a lethal virus. Jason Statham and Matthew Modine star; Louis Leterrier (Clash of the Titans) directs. (2005)

You Again: Sky Movies, 8.30pm Wednesday.

You won’t want to see this again: a comedy about two generations of high school foes coming face-to-face years later when they re-ignite hostilities over a wedding. Few mainstream releases were as scorned as You Again, despite a cast that includes Kristen Bell, Sigourney Weaver, Cloris Leachman and Betty White. As Variety observed: “Manages to squander three generations of formidable actresses.” Andy Fickman (Race to Witch Mountain, The Game Plan) directs. (2010)

Juno: TV3, 8.30pm Thursday.

Up in the Air’s Jason Reitman adroitly tackles teen pregnancy with this quirky, surprising tale about a spirited 16-year-old who opts to have her baby adopted. Smart, funny, empathetic and just nutty enough to be distinctive without being indulgent, Juno won Diablo Cody (Jennifer’s Body, the upcoming re-make of Evil Dead) an Oscar for best original screenplay and boasts a sublime cast that includes Ellen Page and Michael Cera as the odd-couple adolescents who discover sex before themselves. (2007)

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