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The Weekend Australian - Review - - Tv - EVAN WIL­LIAMS

WHEN it comes to se­quels, re­makes, spin- offs and other sec­ondary Hol­ly­wood by- prod­ucts, we know what to ex­pect: some­thing less than the orig­i­nal. But oc­ca­sion­ally a film sur­prises us. Die Hard 2 ( Satur­day, 8.35pm, Seven) is at least as good as the first film, thanks in part to Bruce Wil­lis’s tal­ent for self- dep­re­cat­ing irony. Once again hum­ble New York cop John McClane finds him­self sin­gle- hand­edly foil­ing a ter­ror­ist plot ( this time an air­port hi­jack­ing). ‘‘ Man, I can’t be­lieve this,’’ says McClane. ‘‘ How can shit like this hap­pen to the same guy twice?’’ Well, only in hi- tech Hol­ly­wood ac­tion thrillers ( and their se­quels).

Ex­or­cist II: The Heretic ( Tues­day, 12.10am, Nine), di­rected by John Boor­man, ap­peared four years af­ter the fa­mous de­monic shocker from William Fried­kin, and was re­mark­able for its avoid­ance of gore and ob­scen­ity. Boor­man sub­stan­tially re­cut the film af­ter it was sav­aged by US crit­ics. This time La­mont ( Richard Bur­ton) in­ves­ti­gates the death of Fa­ther Merrin, the priest who orig­i­nally ex­or­cised lit­tle Re­gan ( Linda Blair), and the hor­ror and eeri­ness of the story stand up well. ( We had to wait an­other 13 years for The Ex­or­cist III .)

Beethoven’s 4th ( Sun­day, 1pm, Ten) was the sec­ond of two di­rect- to- video se­quels in­volv­ing our big, slob­ber­ing St Bernard, and turns on the ac­ci­den­tal swap­ping of Beethoven with an aris­to­cratic ca­nine looka­like. I al­ways thought the film’s ti­tles were the clever­est thing about them. As for Austin Pow­ers in Gold­mem­ber ( Satur­day, 10.30pm, Nine), the third of Jay Roach’s psy­che­delic com­edy spoofs whose ti­tle is the least clever thing about it, opin­ions dif­fer on the mer­its of the se­quels, de­pend­ing largely on whether one cared at all for the orig­i­nal. Mike My­ers may be bet­ter known and loved th­ese days as the voice of Shrek, but the Austin Pow­ers tril­ogy is his true legacy: flip, cheesy, fre­net­i­cally gross send- ups of James Bond cliches and post- mod swing­ing Lon­don, call it what you will. In Gold­mem­ber the par­o­dies in­clude Godzilla movies and a hip- hop prison rap per­formed to a tune from An­nie . Michael Caine turns up ( em­bar­rass­ingly) as Austin’s un­cool dad.

Of the three ver­sions of John Buchan’s rip­ping es­pi­onage yarn, di­rec­tor Don Sharp’s 1978 film The Thirty- Nine Steps ( Thurs­day, 12.50am, ABC), is prob­a­bly the least sat­is­fac­tory and cer­tainly suf­fers by com­par­i­son with Hitch­cock’s clas­sic. But the story is so cap­ti­vat­ing that I think any ver­sion will do. This one has Robert Pow­ell as the

ar­che­typal Bri­tish hero Richard Han­nay pur­su­ing a net­work of spies through Lon­don mu­sic halls and the Scot­tish high­lands, and dan­gling ( in one mem­o­rable shot) from the face of Big Ben.

Swim­ming Up­stream ( Wed­nes­day, mid­day, Nine), di­rected by Rus­sell Mulcahy, is the story of An­thony Fin­gle­ton, who sur­vived a tough Bris­bane child­hood at the hands of a drunken bul­ly­ing fa­ther and be­came a cham­pion swim­mer in the early 1960s. Ex­cep­tional per­for­mances, as one would ex­pect, from Ge­of­frey Rush and Judy Davis as the par­ents — Harold, the al­co­holic fa­ther, Dora the long­suf­fer­ing wife — with Martin McGrath’s sun­drenched cam­era work beau­ti­fully evok­ing Bris­bane sub­ur­bia in the ’ 50s.

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