HDTV Movie Premieres: July 2-8

The Matrix: Sky Movies Greats, 8.30pm Saturday.

Quantum physics is made entertaining in this sci-fi sensation about a computer hacker (Keanu Reeves) who’s reborn as a cyberspace messiah chosen to save the world from a 21st century machine-made Armageddon. Some may question the finer “neural” nuances but the furious special effects are fantastic while dominatrix disciples will think they’ve died and gone to virtual heaven. The Wachowski Brothers (Speed Racer) direct; Laurence Fishburne and Carrie-Anne Moss co-star. (1999)

Prince Of Persia: The Sands Of Time: Sky Movies, 8.30pm Sunday.

The adopted son of a Persian king joins forces with a rival empire’s princess to retrieve from the clutches of evil a dagger that can turn back time … Even the most undemanding of action-fantasy fans may want to turn back time after watching this juvenile video game adaptation that’s handsomely filmed but ham-fistedly made. The dialogue’s diabolical while the twist makes the whole adventure as meaningless as most of Ben Kinglsey’s post-Gandhi career. (2010)

The Shining: Sky Movies Greats, 8.30pm Sunday.

Honey, he’s baaaccckk! Jack Nicholson’s descent into maniacal overkill took off with this plodding Stanley Kubrick dramatisation of the Stephen King shocker about a writer-cum-caretaker who loses the plot while holed up in a remote hotel with his wife and psychic son during the off-season. Recommended if you’re into technique and subtext; everyone else will find it more mannered mayhem than edge-of-the-seat exhilaration. Shelley Duvall and Danny Lloyd, who has since made only one other movie, co-star. (1980)

Pandorum: Sky Movies, 8.30pm Monday.

Asked Entertainment Weekly of this derivative sci-fi horror starring Ben Foster and Dennis Quaid as astronauts stranded on a spaceship with something else: “How brazenly can one film rip off Alien, I Am Legend, and, somewhat oddly, The Poseidon Adventure?” Time Out New York was even harsher: “Hackwork of the highest order, lacking in all poetry and barely comprehensible aurally or visually.” Christian Alvart, who fared better with Case 39, directs a screenplay he co-wrote. (2009)

Step Up 3: Sky Movies, 8.30pm Wednesday

This musical sequel had 3D as a novelty in theatres but not a lot else. Variety dismissed it as “vapid street-dance soap opera” but closer to home, The Dominion Post excused it as a “cheerful bit of noisy fluff about a bunch of photogenic and flexible young things … needing to win some massive underground dance-off, so they can use the prize money to keep up the mortgage payments on the fabulous old warehouse they all call home.” (2010)


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