Every week Mat Corne scours the TV Guide for the best movies showing on UK free-to-air TV. So for those of you that refuse to pay for Sky Movies or Netflix, here are five of the best freeview movies for the coming week.
First Blood (1982)
ITV4, Thursday 30th, 22:05
While the character of John Rambo ultimately became something of a caricature, there’s no denying the impact of his first movie appearance. Far from being a glorious, unstoppable American hero, Stallone’s character is a PTSD-suffering Vietnam veteran struggling to re-adapt to life after the war. When he’s unfairly treated by some overzealous small-town cops, he reacts in the only way he knows how, and what follows is a thrilling cat and mouse chase through the wilderness, featuring some spectacular action sequences and inventive use of the environment. The message about treating war veterans more sympathetically gets a little lost amongst the violence and Rambo’s ramblings towards the end, but that doesn’t stop it being a great film that was only damaged by the lacklustre sequels that followed.
You’re Next (2011)
Film4, Wednesday 29th, 23:20
This home invasion thriller starts like any other – a family and their significant others get together at a secluded house, and just as they’re sitting down to dinner they are attacked by masked assailants with powerful weapons and a variety of fiendish traps. What they didn’t count on is that one of the intended victims is rather more resourceful than the invaders bargained for, and she is not going to make it easy for them! There are further twists that are a little predictable, but seeing the bad guys get their comeuppance in a variety of ingenious ways more than makes up for any shortcomings. Packed with decent acting, black humour and death scenes that will make you scream with glee, this was one of the most enjoyable films I saw this year and is sure to become a cult classic.
School of Rock (2003)
Film4, Saturday 25th, 18:45
Jack Black can be something of an acquired taste, and many of his films are dreadful, but he’s at his goofy best as a failed rock star turned substitute teacher in this good-natured comedy. With a supporting cast formed mainly of children this could have been a disaster, but there are some great performances from the young actors as Black’s character brings out their hidden creative talents with his unorthodox teaching methods. A couple of unexpected twists, a touch of romance and a fabulous musical finale will certainly leave you smiling, and there’s also character development and a message for pushy parents to take heed of. It may look like a daft comedy on the surface, but School of Rock has a lot of heart and if you haven’t seen it you’ll probably find it is far better than you imagined.
More4, Wednesday 29th, 21:00
Ridley Scott’s multi-Oscar winning historical drama stars Russell Crowe as a Roman general who is betrayed and left for dead by the conniving new Emperor (Joaquin Phoenix). Captured by slavers and discovering his family slain, he is reinvented as a Gladiator and proves himself in numerous bloody duels whilst plotting his revenge against the Emperor. With superb performances, uncompromising battle scenes and plenty of emotional moments, this is an exhilarating spectacle, one of Scott’s best films and undoubtedly Crowe’s finest hour.
Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997)
5Star, Saturday 25th, 21:00
Following the success of Wayne’s World, Mike Myers took on dual roles in this spy spoof. He plays Austin Powers, a suave Secret Agent, and his arch-nemesis Dr. Evil. When the latter escapes to a secret base in 1967 and cryogenically freezes himself, Austin must do the same, and is woken 30 years later to a world where most of his old skills are no longer relevant. Much of the film’s comedy comes from this ‘man out of his time’ scenario, and it is obviously inspired by the James Bond films, but Myers’ antics as both characters, along with great supporting roles from Liz Hurley and Seth Green, make for an entertaining film. The balance of slapstick and clever wordplay is just about right, unlike the two sequels that followed where Myers insisted on performing more outlandish characters.