HDTV Movie Premieres: October 1-7

Crash: Sky Movies Greats, 8.30pm Saturday.

This Oscar-winning dramatisation of simmering melting pot tensions in Los Angeles revolves around 36 hours in the lives of a cross-section of downtown/uptown residents whose paths intersect after two of them are car-jacked. Writer/director Paul Haggis occasionally stretches plausibility to make his jigsaw pieces fit but many of the film’s pleasures come from its unexpected U-turns and thoughtful insights. Don Cheadle, Sandra Bullock and Matt Dillon star. (2005)

The Young Victoria: TV One, 8.30pm Sunday.

Some critics lamented this dramatisation of Queen Victoria’s early years for not being a blood-and-thunder bodice-ripper. Yet it’s the filmmakers’ touching, underplayed approach, without ever being dull or earnest, that makes Victoria so refreshing and enchanting. It’s replete with political intrigue but combines these machinations with tenderness and intelligence, exquisite performances and wondrous production design. Emily Blunt, Rupert Friend and Paul Bettany star. (2009)

2012: TV2, 8.30pm Sunday.

Doomsday director Roland Emmerich (The Day After Tomorrow, Independence Day) again proves why he is the undisputed master of disaster movies, with this dynamite spectacular about the end of the world that was inspired by Noah’s ark. The plot may be merely an exercise for eye-popping special effects but rarely has rollercoaster escapism been so exhilarating (and still able to retain philosophical merit).  (2009)

The Last Airbender: Sky Movies, 8.30pm Sunday.

Live-action adaption of the TV series, Avatar, about a ten-year-old who must stop the Fire Nation from enslaving the Water, Earth and Air nations. Said The Dominion Post: “Beyond the visual effects and fight sequences, The Last Airbender is nearly suffocated by stock characters and hackneyed dialogue.” M Night Shyamalan directs; Cliff Curtis, Noah Ringer (Cowboys & Aliens) and Jackson Rathbone (Twilight Saga: Eclipse) star. (2010)

The Collector: Sky Movies, 8.30pm Wednesday.

Despite the title, this ghastly horror movie has nothing to do with the superior 1965 psychological thriller. Entertainment Weekly called it “a sub-Saw knockoff that manages to be brutal yet monotonous, not to mention monstrously unpleasant” while the New York Times said it “offers agony in a vacuum, a villain without a motive and a hero with more personal problems than lines of dialogue”. Marcus Dunstan, who wrote Piranha 3D, directs. (2009)

Scoop: Sky Movies Greats, 8.30pm Wednesday.

Woody Allen followed two of his better movies, Match Point and Melinda and Melinda, with one of his lamest. This time he cast himself as the Danny Rose of magicians who hooks up with student journalist Scarlett Johansson in London to investigate whether Hugh Jackman’s charming aristocrat is a serial killer (as Ian McShane’s deceased crime scribe claims when he appears to her in a vision). The acting is over the top and the storytelling absurd without being whimsical or witty. (2006)

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets: TV2, 7.30pm Friday

Harry Potter II is darker than its predecessor and delivers a more satisfying, smartly paced mix of thrills, suspense and magical special effects. Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson again star under the direction of Chris Columbus. New to the cast for this instalment were Kenneth Branagh (Professor Gilderoy Lockhart) and Jason Isaacs (Lucius Malfoy) while Richard Harris’ Dumbledore was his last movie role. (2002)

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