HDTV Movie Premieres: January 15-21

The Men Who Stare at Goats: Sky Movies, 8.30pm Saturday.

Director Grant Heslov, who wrote Good Night, and Good Luck, reunites with George Clooney for this military satire about a top-secret unit of psychic “warrior monks” who try to help “the first superpower to develop superpowers”. It uses a real-life ‘70s New Age forerunner of the movie’s New Earth Army for an offbeat take on the Iraq War that’s occasionally laugh-out-loud funny but more often merely amuses with its laid-back lunacy. Jeff Bridges, Ewan McGregor and Kevin Spacey co-star. (2009)

Hostage: Sky Movies Greats, 8.30pm Saturday.

Bruce Willis plays a small-town sheriff whose traumatised past as a hostage negotiator catches up with him when three delinquents hold a rich man’s family hostage in their remote, mountain-top designer fortress. Director Florent Siri’s previous film, The Nest, has been compared to a French Assault on Precinct 13, and his first Hollywood commission is just as exciting, suspenseful and inventive, with numerous plot twists, vivid characterisations and a knock-your-socks-off score. (2005)

Where the Wild Things Are: Sky Movies, 4.55pm Sunday.

Co-screenwriter Dave Eggers has described this adaptation of Maurice Sendak’s children’s classic as a “re-fanging” of the original. But so somnolent is the execution that others will think it a de-fanging. About a nine-year-old who, dressed as a wolf, stumbles into a fantasy forest where monstrous creatures lurk, it’s too dull to enthral kids and isn’t provocative enough to engross adults — although the creature effects are wondrous and Sendak’s signature weirdness remains. Spike Jonze (Being John Malkovich) directs. (2009)

Kung Fu Panda: TV3, 7pm Sunday.

Despite the spotty pedigree — it was written by two King of the Hill veterans while the directors were drawn from TV’s SpongeBob SquarePants and Father of the Pride – this is an hilarious, eye-popping, foot-stomping romp about a portly, martial arts-mad panda who pongs so badly the movie should have been called Kung Phew! Panda. Moreover, his kung fu skills stink even more, which is unfortunate given he’s anointed The Chosen One to fulfil an ancient prophecy … (2008)

Halloween II: Sky Movies, 8.30pm Sunday.

The original Halloween II was dire enough but this update would have even Donald Pleasence spinning in his grave. Rob Zombie (Night of 1000 Corpses), who botched the first Halloween revival, again mis-directs a franchise that should be allowed to rest in peace, along with the careers of Malcolm McDowell, Brad Dourif, Margot Kidder and Caroline Williams (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre II). Zombie’s wife, Sheri Moon Zombie, again plays bogeyman Michael Myers’ mother. (2009)

Out of Time: Sky Movies Greats, 8.30pm Sunday.

Denzel Washington reunites with Devil in a Blue Dress director Carl Franklin for a contrived thriller that has its suspenseful moments but too few to satisfy. Washington plays a small-town Florida cop whose affair with a married woman makes him the patsy in a drug money sting and a murder investigation being conducted by his estranged wife. Out of Time’s mid-section is taut and tense, as Washington’s cop struggles to keep one step ahead of the detective who knows him best, but the rest of the movie is a flaccid Body Heat-wannabe. (2003)

X2: TV3, 8.30pm Monday.

This X-Men sequel marked the 40th anniversary of the Marvel comic book about mutants with mind-boggling powers who are exiled by Earthlings. One faction is led by the war-mongering Magneto (Ian McKellen), the other by the peace-spouting Xavier (Patrick Stewart). The old friends-turned-foes unite to stop a new threat from exterminating their kind in a storyline as jaded as yet another Star Trek instalment and without the intellectual layers that distinguished the original. (2003)

Great Expectations: Sky Movies Greats, 8.30pm Tuesday.

Dull, anachronistic update of the Charles Dickens classic, starring Ethan Hawke and Gwyneth Paltrow as lacklustre lovebirds – he’s a Florida fisherman struggling to break into the Big Apple art world, she’s the rich adopted daughter of a wealthy, deranged recluse (Anne Bancroft). There’s no heat between Hawke and Paltrow, and the modern setting only exacerbates the implausible contrivances of the Victorian England original. Children of Men’s Alfonso Cuarón directs. (1998)

A Knight’s Tale: TV3, 8.30pm Tuesday.

Robin Hood scribe Brian Helgeland directed this medieval jousting romp starring Heath Ledger as a peasant who assumes his master’s identity after the knight’s untimely demise. It was inspired by Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales but as Time magazine quipped: “The result is half Python, half Ivanhoe — and not as much fun as either.” Rufus Sewell, Mark Addy, Paul Bettany and Solomon Kane’s James Purefoy co-star. (2001)

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