HDTV Movie Premieres: December 18-24

Avatar: Sky Movies, 8.30pm Sunday.

The sizzling Blu-ray of James Cameron’s latest titanic blockbuster is the closest you’ll get to viewing it in 3D on a 2D TV. It will be interesting to see how Sky’s 1080i broadcast compares with the exceptionally high bit rate of the 1080p transfer that made the depth and detail of its image so extraordinary. If only the movie’s scenario — a futuristic Dances With Wolves – was as groundbreaking as the movie’s technology. Sam Worthington, Sigourney Weaver and Zoe Saldana star. (2009)

Ice Age: TV3, 7pm Sunday.

Ice Age is for all ages, a dazzling, dizzying ‘toon about an unlikely trio — Manfred the Mammoth, Diego the Sabretooth Tiger and Sid the Slot — on an incredibly funny journey to return a lost tyke to his cave clan. The outstanding sight gags are reminiscent of Warner Bros’ animation-amok heyday while the characterisations owe more to Shrek with a dash of Monsters, Inc’s tenderness. (2002)

Miss Potter: TV One, 8.30pm Sunday.

Who better to direct this scintillating tale of Peter Rabbit scribe Beatrix Potter’s early years than Babe’s Chris Noonan? His dramatisation is a stirring, poignant, captivating account of how a 30-year-old woman defied her Victorian family by refusing to marry for convenience, comfort and convention. Instead, she forged her own identity and livelihood with a series of bucolic best-sellers whose beloved critters would make her the most popular children’s author until that other Potter woman, JK Rowling. Renee Zellweger, Ewan McGregor and Emily Watson star. (2006)

The Usual Suspects: Sky Movies Greats, 8.30pm Sunday.

Five criminals suspected of hi-jacking a truck in New York City mastermind a scam to expose NYPD corruption that also lands them a fortune in stolen diamonds. But their sweet revenge turns sour when it leads to their being at the mercy of a fearful criminal mastermind who is said to be the Devil himself. This fiendishly baffling crime drama bewilders and exhilarates with its complexities of plot, character and technique. Gabriel Byrne and Oscar-winner Kevin Spacey star; Bryan Singer (X-Men, Valkyrie) directs. (1995)

Flight of the Phoenix: Sky Movies Greats, 8.30pm Tuesday.

The original Phoenix was a gripping if far-fetched account of how the survivors of a plane crash in the desert overcame hunger, thirst and antagonism to pull off the seemingly impossible; this is a balsa wood-lite model with better production values but dumbed-down characterisations and even less suspense than logic. John Moore (Max Payne) directs Dennis Quaid, Giovanni Ribisi, Hugh Laurie and Miranda Otto. (2004)

Jingle All the Way: TV3, 7.30pm Thursday.

This noisy Christmas hard-sell satire stars Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sinbad as rivals in search of the last Turbo Man toy in town. The late Phil Hartman co-stars as the sleazeball neighbour who covets Schwarzenegger’s wife (Rita Wilson, or Mrs Tom Hanks). Brian Levant (Are We There Yet?) directs. (1996)

In Good Company: Sky Movies Greats, 8.30pm Thursday.

“The young eat the old now.” That quote from Topher Grace will resonate with senior executives fearful of the same fate Dennis Quaid’s suffers in this witty, perceptive take on middle-age dread: the 51-year-old department head is demoted following a corporate takeover and his new boss (Grace) is half his age. To rub more salt into the old warhorse’s wounds, Grace secretly starts dating his daughter, Scarlett Johansson. Until the fatally fatuous final act, In Good Company is an uncommonly funny and tender comedy graced by heartfelt performances and complex, vulnerable characters.

Michael Jackson’s This Is It: Sky Movies, 8.30pm Friday.

As Empire magazine said of this posthumous curtain-raiser for the Michael Jackson concert that never was: “This Is It delivers neither the full-on Jackson stage experience or a revealing portrait of his complex mindset. Yet it does not dishonour his memory and you can’t deny the power of the music.” (2009)

13 Going on 30: Sky Movies Greats, 8.30pm Friday.

Unoriginal but disarming romantic-comedy about a dorky teenager who wishes she was “30, flirty and thriving” — and wakes up all grown up as a luscious Big Apple magazine editor, only with the emotional and mental maturity of a 13-year-old. Jennifer Garner’s sparkling mix of innocence, vulnerability and physical humour turns the trite and the predictable into diverting escapism that resonates beyond a girls-just-wanna-have-fun twist on Big. (2004)

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