HDTV Movie Premieres: October 15-21

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest: TV2, 7.30pm Saturday.

The writing of this first sequel didn’t start until pre-production, which explains why the screenplay isn’t as shipshape as the spectacular special effects. Otherwise, it’s an even more rollicking mix of goofy gags and gung-ho derring-do in which barmy buccaneer Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) spars with spooks, critters, cannibals and cretins. Keira Knightley and Geoffrey Rush co-star. (2006)

The Shawshank Redemption: Sky Movies Greats, 8.30pm Saturday.

Shawshank is the world convicted felons Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman inhabit: a New England prison where the warden’s more bent than the inmates, and the guards make the Gestapo look like Amnesty International. The usual prison drama cliches abound but this poignant film transcends these to celebrate the strength of the human spirit while raising serious questions about its incarceration. (1994)

Easy A: Sky Movies, 8.30pm Sunday.

This high school comedy is smarter than the ‘80s John Hughes hits to which it pays homage but still isn’t in the same class as Clueless. Emma Stone plays a sassy teenager whose fib about a one-night stand goes viral and turns the wisecracking virgin into “Super Slut”. The cast is A+ but the screenplay ricochets from wickedly funny to cringingly corny. Amanda Bynes and Patricia Clarkson co-star; Will Gluck (Friends With Benefits) directs. (2010)

Poltergeist: TV2, 11pm Sunday.

The Network of horror movies is a satirical indictment of television (and its images of middle-class Americana) that may even scare you enough to turn it off. Craig T Nelson and JoBeth Williams star as the parents of a family whose home is possessed by spirits that seem to come out of the cathode ray tube in the corner of their living room. Then their youngest is swallowed by it … Keep the remote control handy. Steven Spielberg directed remotely — via Tobe Hooper. (1982)

Wrong Turn: Sky Movies Greats, 8.30pm Tuesday.

The premise may be perfunctory — deformed, man-eating hillbillies stalk four young adults in Deliverance country — but the execution is suspenseful, scary and swift. The brilliantly edited action is grotesque rather than gory, there are plenty of stunts to pump up the adrenalin and the storytelling is refreshingly free of the post-modern horror references that have undermined the genre since Scream’s heyday. (2003)

The American: Sky Movies, 8.30pm Wednesday.

Film buffs will be reminded of that Italian, Sergio Leone, while watching this superbly cinematic hitman drama framed within the context and landscapes of his spaghetti westerns. George Clooney mesmerises as the stranger in town: an assassin trying to redeem his past before turning into a target. But it’s director Anton (Control) Corbijn’s deft cinematographer’s eye that escalates the tension mercilessly. Brighton Rock director Rowan Joffe wrote the screenplay. (2010)

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix: TV2, 7.30pm Friday.

The magic’s starting to wear thin in the fifth instalment of the Hogwarts franchise that sees a new director waving the wand. Coming midway in the batting order, Phoenix feels as if it’s marking time with a mechanical conspiracy plot in which a teenage Harry makes an enemy of the Ministry of Magic while questioning his identity on the eve of arch nemesis Lord Voldemort rising from the ashes. David Yates directs his first in the franchise. (2007)

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