May 5-11: Including Sherlock Holmes and Pu-239

by Fiona Rae / 05 May, 2012


Alien vs Predator (TV3, 8.30pm). During an expedition on Bouvetøya Island in Antarctica, a team of archaeologists and other scientists find themselves caught up in a riveting discussion about how to pronounce “Antarctica”. They soon realise it’s impossible for Americans not to say “Ant-ardigger”, and call it quits. Meanwhile, two of the ugliest Hollywood creations imaginable slurp and mumble their way towards an inter-species showdown in blockbuster crossover heaven. Whoever wins … we lose. So true. (2004) 5

Sherlock Holmes

Then She Found Me (TV1, 10.15pm). It’s a worrying sign when you can’t remember whether you’ve seen a movie. The comedy/drama/romance premise here is so recognisable: woman loses man, finds another one but is drawn back to the first one, but the depressingly inappropriate casting of Colin Firth as the “maybe guy” rings a familiar bell of doom. This is Helen Hunt’s fairly promising directorial début: she also stars as April, a teacher whose wussy husband (Matthew Broderick) disappears in a puff of smoke when she suggests having children. But wait – there’s another plank of dramatic complication in the form of Bette Midler playing … Bette Midler. She’s April’s biological mother who appears in roughly the same puff of smoke that took hubby away, it would seem. But midlife crisis or not, it was a self-absorbed step too far for Christopher Tookey of the UK’s Daily Mail, who called it “unendurable American middle-aged whingeing”. (2007) 6

Beerfest (TV2, 10.15pm). Thish shounds like a rurly good … what wazh I talking about? Drinking games get a whole movie to themselves, so if you’ve ever chundered your way through the Oktoberfest while on a Contiki Tour, you’ll be settling down with a pizza and a box of beer for this one. (2006) 5

The Other Boleyn Girl (TV3, 10.35pm). All-star dysfunction and debauchery in jolly old Tudor England: Natalie Portman and Scarlett Johansson look smashing as the gorgeous catty Boleyn sisters vying for the attention of Henry VIII (Eric Bana). A heaving bodice here, an illegitimate child there and bingo! History is, if not rewritten, very nearly turned into a soap opera worthy of the Aaron Spelling brand. “We’re sisters and therefore born to be rivals,” says Anne (Portman), who surely wouldn’t have been so keen to fight for him if she’d known how much Henry enjoyed the business of getting married. (2008) 6


Yours, Mine & Ours (TV2, noon). A widowed US naval officer with eight kids marries his old flame, a handbag designer with 10 kids. Unless they’re Mormons or Brad and Angelina or possibly guinea pigs, this seems a tad unlikely in the 21st century. That’s because this is a remake of the 1968 original starring Henry Fonda and Lucille Ball and it was pretty stale 44 years ago. Now there’s the barest outline of where a comedy once stood – Dennis Quaid, Rene Russo, 18 warring, blended offspring and all. (2005) 4

Sherlock Holmes (TV2, 8.30pm). Director Guy Ritchie brings a dirty, sexy glamour to the world of the Victorian detective and his offsider, played gleefully by Robert Downey jnr and Jude Law. Ritchie had his own vision for Holmes, and it didn’t include the line “Elementary, my dear Watson” or the deeply uncool deerstalker hat, which are both missing from this adaptation. Purists clucked but this Sherlock Holmes, with its serial killer returning from the dead, touches of black magic and saucy temptress, goes all out to entertain. In that way, it’s not too different from Ritchie’s other movies: a sort of “Sherlock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels” … (2009) 7

White Chicks (Four, 8.30pm). A comedy, you say? The three Wayans brothers divvy up the duties and Marlon and Shawn get to morph from black FBI agents to Paris-and-Nicky clones (“hotel heiresses the Wilson sisters”) to protect the real princesses from being kidnapped. Tears? I thought they’d never dry. (2004) 4


Taken (TV3, 8.30pm). Albanians are the bogeymen in this thriller about human trafficking, which makes a refreshing change from Middle Eastern terrorists, I suppose. Seventeen-year-old Kim goes to Paris with a friend and they are kidnapped by a gang, so it’s frightfully lucky that (a) Dad’s a retired CIA agent, (b) she happens to be talking to him when it happens, and (c) he’s Liam Neeson, but that’s for our benefit. Cool under pressure, Neeson thwacks his way through 35 people who get between him and his little girl (Maggie Grace). What a guy. (2009)

Nine Months (Four, 8.50pm). It’s arguable that this, er, laboured comedy about getting knocked up did more damage to Hugh Grant’s career than being caught with a hooker, which happened around the time of its release. (1995) 5


Executive Decision (Prime, 8.30pm). The one I would take would be not to watch this, but, hey, it’s a free country. Not free enough, if you live in Dr David Grant’s world. He’s an intelligence expert who gets the job of climbing on board a 747 when it is overpowered by Islamic terrorists who hold distinctly anti-American sentiments. Scarily prescient stuff from the days when Halle Berry used to get such roles as “Jean: flight attendant” and also starring Kurt Russell, Steven Seagal, John Leguizamo and David “Hercule Poirot” Suchet as Nagi Hassan. A solid meat-and-potatoes adrenalin ride. (1996) 6


Behind Enemy Lines: Colombia (Four, 8.30pm). US Navy Seals mount an attack on Colombian special forces to clear their names and rescue a hostage. I can tell you they won’t succeed because seals can’t move very fast on land and need their flippers for walking. Perhaps they can mount the guns on their heads. Violent trash that didn’t get a cinema release. (2008) 5

Pu-239 (SoHo, Sky 010, 8.30pm). The Half Life of Timofey Berezin is the original title of this relentlessly disturbing drama set in 1995 about a Russian technician in a nuclear plant who is accidentally exposed to a lethal dose of radiation. It works better than Pu-239 – the name of the weapons-grade plutonium he steals from the plant to set up his wife and son when he dies – but offers the bleakest chance of a smile. When Timofey is trying to hawk his cargo on the black market, a guy comes up to him and yells, “Poo? Does anyone want to buy some poo?” Scott Z Burns’s writing and directing debut isn’t brilliant but it is thought-provoking. English actor Paddy Considine struggles to sound Russian, as do the rest of the cast, which is odd because you’d think actors in the former Soviet Socialist Republic would be as cheap as … pickled cabbage. (2006) 6
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