WEEK IN MOVIES
SUNDAY THE PHANTOM 6.30PM, 9GO! ★★★
Billy Zane plays the title role (a comic-book perennial sometimes referred to as The Ghost Who Walks) as a weird combination of Indiana Jones and Batman, and it’s a blend that works very well. The storyline, however, stands as a flimsy cardboard set-up to pit good against evil. Heading the bad dudes is a rotter of a tycoon (played by Treat Williams) eager to get his hands on some “magic skulls’’ that will help him rule the world. He is ably assisted by a vampish female pirate, Sala (Catherine Zeta-Jones), and the usual round-up of hired goons. Meanwhile, in the “nice corner’’, is the Phantom, his pet wolf Devil, his horse Hero and his girlfriend Diana (Kristy Swanson).
MONDAY THE LAST BOY SCOUT 9PM, 9GO! ★★★
Originally intended as the launch pad for another Die Hard-like franchise for Bruce Willis, this flashy, trashy actioner goes OK on its own pulpy terms. Willis plays Joe, a private detective scrounging around for a living after a falling-out with the Secret Service. After buddying up with a disgraced ex-quarterback (comedian Damon Wayans), Joe attempts to give his flagging fortunes a much-needed boost by investigating the death of a local stripper. A few big laughs, a lot of big explosions and a ripping climax.
TUESDAY BLADES OF GLORY 8.30PM, ELEVEN ★★★
When it comes to playing it dumb, the smartest operator around is US comic Will Ferrell. He’s in cracking form in this comedy set in the weird, wild world of competition ice-skating. Ferrell’s hopelessly absurd odd-couple repartee with co-star Jon Heder is priceless stuff. The pair play disgraced Olympic figure skaters who join forces to beat a lifetime ban from competition. If you loved Anchorman or Dodgeball, you’ll certainly dig this.
WEDNESDAY TRUE GRIT 8.30PM FOXTEL ACTION/ ADVENTURE ★★★★
An exemplary new adaptation of the classic Charles Portis novel, True Grit sees the Coen brothers doubling back towards some familiar territory. Not quite No Country For Old Men, more No Country for a Young Woman. And a world away from the corny John Wayne version of yesteryear. The story told here is that of a wild west revenge saga with a difference – the difference being that it is a 14-year-old girl, Mattie Ross (Hailee Steinfeld), looking to square up the murder of her father in the 1870s. Jeff Bridges and Matt Damon co-star.
THURSDAY INDEPENDENCE DAY 8.30PM, FOXTEL MASTERPIECE ★★★
Upon its original release, Independence Day signalled a new breed of blockbuster: the event movie. Though this pyrotechnic pantomime that pitches mankind against aliens has dated somewhat, it still exudes a hilariously gung-ho bravado that always sucks you in. Especially when US President Bill Pullman gives a speech so rabble-rousingly bizarre, it can only be likened to The West Wing meets Mars Attacks!.
FRIDAY THE WEDDING SINGER 7.30PM, 9GO! ★★★
Like its star, Adam Sandler, this film generates nonstop, clunky, junky laughter, despite your better judgment. In what remains his best comedy to date, Sandler plays the frontman for the house band of a wedding reception centre during the style-challenged 1980s. He’s having problems deciding between new girlfriend Drew Barrymore and the fiancee who jilted him at the altar.
SATURDAY HAPPY FEET 6.35PM, 9GO! ★★★
Cast aside by his fellow penguins because he can’t sing, a young misfit named Mumble (voiced by Elijah Wood) embarks upon an arduous trek towards acceptance. Though the many song-and-dance interludes in this beautiful computer-animated production are thoroughly uplifting, the storyline stretches to some dark and intense places. Goes quite well as an action-adventure pic, but definitely not the all-ages prospect many would have thought. Co-stars the voices of Robin Williams, Hugh Jackman and Brittany Murphy.
Thin ice: Will Ferrell plays a competitive figure skater who gets banned from the sport in Blades of Glory.