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.
Film4, Tuesday 24th, 21:00
In this classic Sci-Fi thriller, the crew of the space freighter Nostromo land on an inhospitable planet to investigate a mysterious transmission and have a close encounter of the worst kind with a vicious xenomorph. Whilst most notable for the alien’s unwelcome appearance from John Hurt’s chest, its real strength is in Ridley Scott masterfully building up almost unbearable tension throughout the film, which is actually more stalk and slash than Sci-Fi. Blessed with a small but stellar cast including Ian Holm, Tom Skerritt and of course Sigourney Weaver as the strong and resourceful Ripley, the film also boasts lavish production design and a spine-tingling soundtrack. Add in H.R. Giger’s terrifying antagonist and you have a film that is almost as nerve-wracking now as it ever was.
Horror, Sunday 22nd, 18:40
Steven Spielberg’s first movie is often overlooked as it was made for TV, but it is regarded as one of the best TV movies of all time and was even given a theatrical release in some regions. Dennis Weaver stars as a travelling salesman who inadvertently angers the driver of a rusty old tanker truck, and spends the duration of the film trying to avoid being run off the road. It’s a thrilling cat and mouse chase as the largely unseen driver literally drives Weaver to his wits end, forcing him to fight back in whatever way he can. Spielberg makes the best of a limited budget with some excellent cinematography and action sequences, and it’s not difficult to see how he went on to create the thematically similar Jaws a few years later.
Film4, Saturday 21st and Wednesday 25th, 20:00
Following two Iron Man films and The Incredible Hulk, Thor was the next superhero to be adopted into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Chris Hemsworth plays the god of thunder with an engaging level of pomposity, in a story that sees him banished to Earth and relieved of his trusty hammer after reigniting a war in his own realm. There’s plenty of humour to be had from this ‘fish out of water’ scenario and the action soon heats up as he takes on his conniving brother Loki, superbly played by Tom Hiddlestone. A cast of high calibre acting talent, including Sir Anthony Hopkins, Idris Elba and Natalie Portman, contributes to an enjoyable romp that feeds nicely into the first Avengers movie.
Life of Pi (2012)
Film4, Sunday 22nd and Friday 27th, 18:35
Ang Lee’s adaptation of Yann Martel’s ‘unfilmable’ novel stars Suraj Sharma as the titular character, who is stranded on a lifeboat after a storm sinks the ship his family was travelling from India to Canada on. His only company on the raft is the less than accommodating Richard Parker, a fully grown Bengal tiger from the family’s zoo! Together they form a very uneasy alliance as their boat makes its way to safety. The story is far-fetched to say the least, and is meant to be that way, but what really makes the film stand out are the gorgeous cinematography and special effects, which rightly won Oscars. The film is ultimately a very stylish feel-good movie, and if you sit back, admire the visuals and don’t think about the plot too much then you should find it highly enjoyable.
Lake Placid (1999)
Sony Movies, Saturday 21st, 21:00 and Thursday 26th, 23:45
The plot of this film is pure B-movie stuff, as a giant crocodile terrorises a tranquil Maine lake and a Park Ranger, the local sheriff and an attractive female palaeontologist team up to try and capture it. What sets this apart from the usual monster movies is a decent cast, likeable characters, credible special effects and an abundance of humour. It wastes little time with plot or character development but provides an equal amount of thrills and laughs, and provides a light-hearted 90 minutes for those of us that sometimes just want silly fun from our movies.