HDTV Movie Premieres: January 22-28

Cirque Du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant: Sky Movies, 8.30pm Sunday.

A fledgling teenage vampire joins a circus of freaks in this tepid horror movie directed by American Pie’s Paul Weitz that’s not as dire as his latest, Little Fockers, but can’t match his In Good Company or American Dreamz. John C. Reilly, Ken Watanabe, Selma Hayek and Josh Hutcherson star in what the Los Angeles Times dubbed “a harmless bit of fluff with a very cool look, but there’s just never enough bite.” (2009)

Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa: TV3, 7pm Sunday.

This neurotic zoo critters-in-the-wild sequel tries to squeeze everyone from the original into a mechanical plot that, even by ‘toon standards, is spectacularly absurd. The cinematic, inventive visuals and some sharp pop culture gags help to offset this and the more irksome characterisations. But there’s a laboured, cut-and-paste feel to the writing that, for adults at least, undermines the cutting-edge animation. Filming of Madagascar 3 is under way for release in 2012. (2009)

Green Zone: Sky Movies, 8.30pm Sunday.

In their third collaboration, Bourne identities Matt Damon and director Paul Greengrass explore the weapons of mass destruction conspiracy behind the invasion of Iraq. Damon plays a US Army officer in the Iraq of 2003 who, fed up with risking his men’s lives by chasing false WMD leads, investigates the source of the defective intelligence – and finds the real enemy is within. This gripping geo-politic thriller mounts a compelling case for its cause while delivering in spades on the action front. (2009)

Meet Dave: TV3, 8.45pm Sunday.

In this feeble fish-out-of-water romp, Eddie Murphy plays a spaceship in human form who falls for a New Yorker. Brian Robbins (Norbit) directs another multi-character but strictly one-dimensional vehicle for his star. As the New York Times observed: “Though mildly amusing, Murphy’s two characters in Meet Dave — a wee captain and a humanoid spaceship — neither tax nor stretch him.”  Elizabeth Banks (TV’s Scrubs, 30 Rock) and Gabrielle Union (FlashForward) co-star. (2008)

X-Men: The Last Stand: TV3, 8.30pm Monday.

The grandeur with which Bryan Singer directed the first two X-Men movies is missing from this superhero pastiche. Rush Hour director Brett Ratner’s take isn’t without surprises or spectacle but never feels as muscular. Hugh Jackman, Anna Paquin, Halle Berry, Ian McKellen, Ellen Page and Kelsy Grammer star in a screenplay that was the mutation of two graphic novels: Astonishing X-Men and The Dark Phoenix Saga. The next X-Men instalment, First Class, is due for release mid-year. (2006)

Intolerable Cruelty: Sky Movies Greats, 8.30pm Tuesday.

The Coen brothers were behind this manic romantic-comedy about a womanising divorce lawyer who meets his match in a Beverly Hills gold-digger. George Clooney and Catherine Zeta-Jones charismatically trade quips and writs in a fiendish game of prenup-oneupmanship that reinvigorates the screwball genre while bringing the filmmakers’ maverick artistry and unhinged humour closer to the mainstream. Their signature looniness prevails but this time it’s more likeable. (2003)

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