HDTV Movie Premieres: August 6-12

The Day the Earth Stood Still: TV3, 8.30pm Saturday.

Green screen takes on new meaning in this eco-minded sci-fi flop that opened to the kind of box office that virtually stands still. But it is better than its reputation, save for an ending clunkier than star Keanu Reeve’s typically robotic performance. He plays an alien in human form who comes to Earth to preserve the planet by destroying mankind, until he meets winsome solo mum Jennifer Connelly and genius professor John Cleese (think Q goes to Harvard). Scott Derrickson (The Exorcism of Emily Rose) directs. (2007)

Appaloosa: TV2, 10.10pm Saturday.

This stirring, elegiac western reunites A History of Violence’s Ed Harris and Viggo Mortensen as town tamers who avenge the murder of a marshal by ruthless rancher Jeremy Irons. There’s much more to Harris’ second stint as a director than this, including a touching triangular relationship involving a frontier Jezebel (Renee Zellweger), but everything is rooted within the sturdy framework of a traditional western. The humour’s dry, the violence fast and brutal, and the dialogue’s as lean as the New Mexico landscapes. (2008)

State of Play: TV3, 8.30pm Sunday.

The award-winning BBC mini-series’ 2003 conspiracy scenario about politics, journalism and big business has been relocated to Washington DC and smartly updated to incorporate the Iraq war and the rise of the Internet. Save for a lamentable climax, it’s a tense, stylish, thought-provoking two hours that intelligently condenses the six-hour original while retaining most of its dramatic integrity. Kevin Macdonald directs Russell Crowe, Ben Affleck and Helen Mirren in a slick, state-of-the-art Hollywood thriller. (2009)

Knight and Day: Sky Movies, 8.30pm Sunday.

How’s this for mission impossible: a silly secret agent romp that entertains despite being top-heavy with star power and a screenplay rewritten so often that the difference between it and the original is like night and day. Yes, the title’s dire but, as a classic odd couple caught up in a spy conspiracy, Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz are the most appealing they’ve been in years while director James Mangold (3.10 to Yuma) keeps the hi-jinks pumping. Green Lantern’s Peter Sarsgaard and The United States of Tara’s Viola Davis co-star. (2010)

Anger Management: Sky Movies Greats, 8.30pm Sunday.

Analyse this: What draws top talent like Jack Nicholson, Marisa Tomei, John Turturro and Heather Graham to an Adam Sandler comedy? At least Woody Harrelson was co-opted only because of his friendship with Nicholson. What was everyone else’s rationale? Or, in the case of this middling romp about a cuckoo shrink (Nicholson) and his pent-up, put-upon patient (Sandler), irrationale? Despite being doggedly lowbrow, Anger Management is a likeable if lacklustre lark leavened by amusing cameos and occasionally droll exchanges. (2003)

Star Trek: TV3, 8.30pm Monday.

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. Fringe scribes Robert Orci and Alex Kurtzman wrote the screenplay and are behind the upcoming Cowboys & Aliens. (2009)

Space Cowboys: Sky Movies Greats, 8.30pm Monday.

Clint Eastwood directs himself as an ex-air force pilot who rounds up his old gang (James Garner, Donald Sutherland, Tommy Lee Jones) to fly the wild blue yonder for the first time in 40 years. Overshadowing the tall storyline about geriatric astronauts shaping up for a mission in 30 days are the macho chemistry of Eastwood and co, the goofy charm of the film’s premise and a sinister twist tinged with tragedy that makes Space Cowboys more noble and poetic than it has a right to be. (2000)

Charlie St Cloud: Sky Movies, 8.30pm Wednesday.

A grieving young man becomes a cemetery caretaker so he can “catch up” with his dead brother at night. Charlie Tahan, Kim Basinger and Zac Efron star. “Some bad movies should carry a leper’s bell to warn off ticket buyers,” warned Rolling Stone. Concurred the New York Times: “You are not, in a movie like this, supposed to think too much; you are supposed to be transported beyond skepticism on a wave of pure, tacky feeling. Instead, in this case, you drown in sentimental, ghoulish nonsense.” (2010)

Couples Retreat: TV 3, 8.30pm Thursday.

It’s not just couples that should retreat from watching this laboured marriage guidance comedy. There’s a couple of amusing lines but mostly it’s a feeble, predictable take on what happens to relationships when the honeymoon’s over, set on an island resort from which there’s no escape (viewers will know the feeling). Amazingly, it was written by stars Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau, whose infinitely funnier first collaboration was 1996’s Swingers. Jason Bateman, Kristin  Bell and Kristin Davis co-star. (2009)

I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry: Sky Movies Greats, 8.30pm Friday.

In this ribald romantic-comedy, Adam Sandler and Kevin James play New York firefighting buddies who pretend to be a married gay couple for a scam too convoluted to explain here. The run of “faggot” jokes soon turns to a kinder, gentler take on homosexual lifestyles and a plea for universal tolerance but amid the poofter-baiting, platitudes and Annie Get Your Gun gags is a handful of laughs and the bonus of Steve Buscemi as a City Hall “gay inspector”. (2007)

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