Tonight in HD: July 8

Sky Movies Premiere: X-Men: First Class (Sky 20, 8.30, 5.1) Rarely does the title of a superhero reboot sum up its content as well as this prequel’s. A new director at the helm, Kick-Ass’s Matthew Vaughn, spectacularly reinvigorates the Marvel mutants franchise, as do new leads James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender in the younger incarnations of Xavier and Magneto, and a splendidly villainous cast headed by Kevin Bacon and Mad Men’s January Jones. The Hunger Games’ Jennifer Lawrence and Damages’ Rose Byrne co-star. (2011) ✭✭✭✭

SoHo Highlight: John Adams (Sky 10, 8.30, 5.1)  The Emmy-decorated mini-series that Kiwi broadcasters shunned, probably because, as Variety said, it’s “meticulous to a fault, including a fidelity to language and accents”, at last surfaces here — and in HD (although released on Blu-ray in the US, it only merited DVD distribution in NZ). From the director of Elizabeth I and The Damned United, Tom Hooper, it stars Paul Giamatti as the second President of the United States and The Big C’s Laura Linney as his wife, Abigail. US critics widely endorsed the dramatisation, with Entertainment Weekly declaring: “Who says TV doesn’t make history thought-provokingly exciting?” But among the unimpressed was the Los Angeles Times: “Unfortunately, so smitten are the creators of John Adams with historical earnestness and pedigree they seem to have forgotten how to tell a good story.” Part one of seven. ✭✭✭✭

Girl vs. Boy (TV2, 5.00) Maxine hunts down the mystery blonde she saw with Tim, and makes a drastic decision while investigating who Hailey sent the infamous love poem to; Will keeps his distance from Gina. ✭✭✭

Pretty Little Liars (TV2, 5.30, 5.1) With strained relationships left and right, it is not an ideal time for the annual father-daughter dance; Ashley continues to hunt for answers about what’s going on with Hanna. ✭✭

The War at Home (TV2, 6.30, R) When Kenny’s dad refuses to take the boys to a comic book convention, Larry asks Dave to take them instead. At first, Dave refuses, but after hearing Larry call him a hero, he quickly changes his mind. ✭✭✭

Planet Dinosaur (TV One, 7.00) Learn about the Jurassic period – a time when the first giant killers stalked the Earth and lurked in the seas. ✭✭✭

The Big Bang Theory (TV2, 7.00, 5.1, R) Penny develops a rivalry with a sexy female neighbour who moves in to the building and threatens to become the ‘new’ Penny. ✭✭✭✭

Golden (TV3, 7.00) Team Bowman are back on track. However, prying eyes and ears are everywhere, and the question is raised: “Where is Shelley Bowman?” ✭✭

Mike & Molly (TV2, 7.30, 5.1) With only two days to go before the big day, Mike and Molly stage their wedding rehearsal, which turns into a disaster when it’s upended by their family and friends. ✭✭

The Simpsons Movie (TV3, 7.30, 5.1) “D’oh!” nuts rejoice. In the Simpsons’ first big-screen escapade, the gags fly faster and funnier than those of recent TV episodes while the richer, panoramic visuals lend depth and novelty. Credit to the writers for breaking from the show’s confines to sustain a movie-length scenario – Homer puts Springfield on the map by almost having it wiped off the map by the Environmental Protection Agency – even at the risk of too many peripheral characters getting worse than a Kwik-e-Mart deal. (2007) ✭✭✭✭

The Big Bang Theory (TV2, 8.00, 5.1, R) While Stuart, a fellow comic book-loving pal of the guys, romances Penny, Leonard and Wolowitz venture out into the world of “Ladies’ Night’. ✭✭✭✭

Sunday Theatre – Audi NZ Season: Billy (TV One, 8.30, R) Another chance to see the top-rating telemovie about Billy T James. ✭✭✭

Wimbledon 2012 (TV One, 1.00) Live coverage from Day 13, featuring the Men’s Singles Final. (Play past 6am will screen in SD on U Channel.) ✭✭✭✭

Sky Movies Greats: Mamma Mia! (Sky 22, 8.30, 5.1)  This big fat Greek wedding hit uses the chart-toppers of a ‘70s pop group as the score for an infectious musical that even will have cynics exclaiming, “ABBA-dabba-do!” Yes, the story of a young bride-to-be who invites three men she suspects of being her father to her wedding on a Greek isle is as flimsy as a postcard from the Mediterranean. But the exuberant cast, engaging characters and colourful locale make Mamma Mia a honey-honey of a jukebox jaunt. The Iron Lady’s Phyllida Lloyd directs Meryl Streep, Colin Firth, Pierce Brosnan and Big Love’s Amanda Seyfried. (2009) ✭✭✭✭

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