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, Amazon Prime or Netflix, here are some of the best freeview movies for the coming week.
Due to the ongoing situation with COVID-19 and the need for many people to isolate or socially distance themselves, instead of just the usual five films we’ll be recommending as many Freeview movies as we can each week until the situation improves. Stay safe everyone and we hope you watch and enjoy some of our choices during this difficult time!
Chicken Run (2000)
BBC1, Saturday 30th, 13:40
Aardman Animations first full-length film, Chicken Run took the charm and overt Britishness of the company’s short films and combined them with a thrilling action-adventure story to create what remains the most successful stop-motion animated film of all time. A cast including some of Britain’s finest actors teamed up with Mel Gibson (in a refreshingly unselfish performance) as a group of chickens that plan to escape from their farm before they end up in their owner’s new pie-making machine. Drawing heavily on classic films, most notably The Great Escape but with nods to the likes of Star Wars and The Shawshank Redemption, the film is an enjoyable breath of fresh air in the world of CGI, and an amazing technical achievement.
Captain America: Civil War (2016)
ITV, Saturday 30th, 21:30
Following the events of Avengers: Age of Ultron, concern about collateral damage prompts politicians to pass an act regulating superhuman activity. With differing opinions on the act, the Avengers become fractured into two opposing groups led by Captain America and Iron Man. They must also face a new enemy who unearths secrets that will change the heroes’ relationships with one another forever. Phase 3 of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe kicks off in style with a huge line-up of heroes, including the debuts of Spider-Man and Black Panther. It dispenses with the typical super-villain antagonist and instead pits characters we care about against each other, giving more emotional engagement, while also striking a great balance between action and comedy. The result is one of my favourite movies of 2016 and the best of all the MCU films.
Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (2013)
E4, Saturday 30th & Friday 5th, 21:00
The legendary San Diego news team returns in an incredibly silly sequel to the incredibly silly 2004 original. Time has moved on to 80s New York and after losing out on a major news anchor slot to his wife, Ron Burgundy has fallen on hard times until he gets the chance to work at the world’s first 24-hour news channel. It’s not long before he brings his news team buddies into the fold and madness ensues, with many of the funniest moments centred on weatherman Brick Tamland (Steve Carell). If you enjoyed the first one then you know exactly what to expect here, and while it’s not as fresh as the original, it’s almost as funny whilst also satirising the rise of 24-hour news quite cleverly.
There’s Something About Mary (1998)
5Star, Saturday 30th, 23:30
Ben Stiller stars in the role that typecast him as the hapless loser in romantic comedies for the next decade. He plays Ted, a directionless 29 year old that looks to reconnect with Mary (Cameron Diaz), the babe that got away after their disastrous high school Prom date. When he does find her, he discovers that he has a number of rivals for her affection, including the sleazy Private Investigator he sent to track her down. Having already cut their teeth on Dumb & Dumber and Kingpin, the Farrelly Brothers set the bar for gross-out comedy in this film, with the opening Prom night sequence and infamous ‘hair gel’ scene being the standouts. It may have spawned a sub-genre that has long since become tiresome, but this remains one of the best films of its kind.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016)
ITV, Sunday 31st, 19:30
Five years after the Harry Potter movie saga concluded, J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World returned with a brand new story set in the 1920s. Eddie Redmayne plays Newt Scamander, a socially-awkward wizard who arrives in New York with a magical suitcase full of mysterious creatures, looking to complete research for his book. After a mishap that sees several of his beasts escape, he becomes involved in a much bigger and darker story with members of the American Wizarding community. Catering for the fact that the core audience of the Potter films is now five years older, this a far more grown-up tale with adult-oriented characters, glorious production design and superb performances from Redmayne and especially Dan Fogler as the ‘no-maj’ who is unwittingly exposed to the magical world. It’s a brilliant start to a new franchise whose only real disappointment is the titular beasts, who are ironically quite unspectacular for the most part.
The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)
ITV4, Sunday 31st, 18:35 & Wednesday 3rd, 20:00
Roger Moore may not have been everyone’s favourite, but you can’t argue that this is one of the quintessential films in the series. Everything you could want from a James Bond film can be found here, with exotic locations, beautiful women, an evil mastermind in a utopian lair, a classic henchman in the terrifying Jaws, and of course one of the most iconic cars in the submersible Lotus Turbo Esprit. The plot is as predictable as ever, but the acting is less hammy than usual for this era, there’s great chemistry between Moore and Barbara Bach, and some pulsating action sequences. All of which make it Moore’s greatest outing as 007 and my personal favourite of all the films in the franchise.
ITV4, Sunday 31st, 21:00
Steven Spielberg pretty much invented the summer event movie with this sea-bound thriller. The event in question is of course a man-eating Great White shark terrorising the residents of a summer vacation resort, leading local sheriff Roy Scheider to team up with marine biologist Richard Dreyfuss and wily sea dog Robert Shaw to take on the beast. The shark itself may look a bit cheap these days, but with jump scares aplenty, an action-packed final showdown and John Williams’ masterful score, the film still has the ability to jangle your nerves, which is an amazing achievement after over forty years.
Horror, Sunday 31st, 21:00
Psycho meets 8MM in this modestly-budgeted horror flick, where Luke Wilson and Kate Beckinsale check into a backwater motel only to find they’re about to become the latest stars of a Snuff movie. A tense opening half hour eventually gives way to more predictable genre tropes, but the filmmakers should be praised for not resorting to an all-out gorefest, instead relying on claustrophobia and psychological torment to drive the movie to its inevitable conclusion. The cast does a reasonable job, there are a few surprises, and with a running time under 90 minutes, this is one for horror/thriller fans to check out if it has previously passed you by. Just avoid booking a remote hotel stay for a few weeks afterwards!
Stand by Me (1986)
Sony Movies, Sunday 31st, 21:00
On a hot summer weekend in the late 1950s, four boys from the sleepy town of Castle Rock set out to find the body of a boy that has recently been reported missing. On their journey they get into a variety of dangerous situations, share their problems and begin their journey to adulthood. This coming of age film is based on the Stephen King novella The Body, and in terms of adaptations the writer’s work it is second only to The Shawshank Redemption, which came from the same anthology. It works as both a comedy and drama thanks to some brilliant performances from a young cast that would all go on to be major stars, and a carefree spirit that will remind you of simpler days spent in the outdoors with friends.
Groundhog Day (1993)
Sony Movies, Monday 1st, 18:55
Bill Murray is in some of the finest form of his career as a grumpy TV weatherman, reluctantly sent to a small town to cover its annual ‘Groundhog Day’ festival. Upon waking the next morning, he finds himself doomed to repeat that same day over and over again, with consequences ranging from the absurd to the tragic, until he finally finds the key to escaping the time loop is changing his outlook on life and finding love with his producer, played by Andie MacDowell. Only moderately successful at the time, the film has since gained the status of a comedy classic thanks to Murray’s fabulous performance, and even the usually unbearable MacDowell plays her part well. It’s a great film, but afterwards you’ll never want to listen to Sonny and Cher’s “I’ve Got You Babe” ever again!
Olympus Has Fallen (2011)
5Star, Wednesday 3rd, 21:00
This action thriller is probably best described as ‘Die Hard in the White House’, as a terrorist attack on the U.S. seat of power leaves president Aaron Eckhart fighting for his life, ably assisted by estranged friend and former Army Ranger Gerard Butler. What should be a generic and throwaway movie is raised above the norm by engaging performances by the two leads, along with the always-reliable Morgan Freeman in a supporting role and solid direction by Antoine Fuqua. Critics were divided on the film, but it performed well at the box office compared to its relatively modest budget and provides a reasonable amount of intelligence along with the explosive thrills.
You’re Next (2011)
Horror, Wednesday 3rd, 22:50
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 is one of the most enjoyable horror films in years and is sure to become a cult classic.
Fright Night (1985)
Horror, Thursday 4th, 00:45 (Wednesday night)
William Ragsdale stars as Charley Brewster, a young man obsessed with horror films, who discovers that the charming man that recently moved in next door is a vampire. After family and friends refuse to believe him, he turns to faded horror star Peter Vincent (Roddy McDowall) to help him destroy his nasty neighbour. This is classic mid-80’s fun, with great mix of comedy and horror, with some great performances by the small cast, witty dialogue and some memorably gruesome special effects. It plays fast and loose with the traditional vampire lore at times, but that just makes for more variety and a better film than you might remember.
Alpha Dog (2006)
Sony Movies Action, Friday 5th, 00:40 (Thursday night)
The names may have been changed but this crime thriller is based on the true story of the kidnapping of teenager Nicholas Markowitz in Los Angeles in 2000. In this version of events, Jake Mazursky (Ben Foster) owes money to privileged but unhinged drug dealer Johnny Truelove (Emile Hirsch) who orders his gang mates to take Mazursky’s younger brother hostage until the debt is paid. The story focuses on the interactions between captor and captives and features an impressive cast of soon-to-be-major stars along with supporting roles from the likes of Bruce Willis and Sharon Stone. If you can handle the vile language, shocking violence and despicable characters, there’s actually a well-made and ultimately heartbreaking film here with fine performances from the young cast, particularly Anton Yelchin as the kidnapped brother and most surprisingly Justin Timberlake as the man charged with looking after him.