Oz the Great and Powerful, Mary Poppins, The Curse of the Were-Rabbit: films on TV today

James Franco is blown to Oz, Julie Andrews arrives on a breeze, Wallace and Gromit are up against a monster: the RadioTimes team’s pick of free-to-air films on TV today

Oz the Great and Powerful ★★★
4.05-6.05pm BBC1 Premiere


With a flavour of Tim Burton and Terry Gilliam, this bold origins story set 20 years before The Wizard of Oz feels like quite a departure for Sam Raimi after his Spider-Man trilogy. But rather than trendily debunking the Oz mythos, the director shows his affection for the source material. Raimi and screenwriters Mitchell Kapner and David Lindsay-Abaire plot the rise of James Franco from con artist to wonderful wizard with maximum respect to the original film (it begins in black and white, its sound actually in mono). Using CGI digital effects to create the Emerald City and environs – not to mention Zach Braff’s sympathetic flying monkey – Raimi delights in the dazzling internecine clashes between the witches (Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz and Michelle Williams) and does the Disney brand proud. What is essentially a story about theatrical smoke and mirrors is made using the same cunning creativity. It wasn’t quite the mega-hit that the similarly styled Alice In Wonderland was for Disney, but not for lack of trying.

Mary Poppins ★★★★★
1.50-4.05pm BBC1

In cinemas, Saving Mr Banks revealed the tantrums and tears that went into making this Disney classic, but Julie Andrews’ magical nanny will always put a smile on your face. She won an Oscar for her performance in this, her screen debut, one of five Academy Awards that the movie collected. And Dick Van Dyke said it was his favourite of the movies he had made.

Wallace & Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit ★★★★
7.10-8.30pm BBC3

The first feature-length outing for the cheese-eating inventor and his silent superior hound sees them on the trail of a giant, veg-pilfering  rabbit in a case that’s at least as funny as it is bunny. The production used 2.8 tons of Plasticine and averaged three seconds of useable footage per day, and the movie earned itself the best animated feature Oscar.

Deep Impact ★★★★
6.10-8.00pm BBC2

Is it a bird, a plane…? No, it’s a giant meteor falling to Earth. Robert Duvall, Tea Leoni and Morgan Freeman add to the gravitas in this unusually thoughtful disaster movie, but director Mimi Leder doesn’t stint on the spectacular effects, either.

The Hunt for Red October ★★★★
4.30-7.00pm Dave

Sean Connery muddies the waters as a troubled Soviet commander in this action-packed submarine saga, which introduced CIA analyst Jack Ryan (played here by Alec Baldwin, after Harrison Ford turned down the role) to the movie-going public. Both Connery and Scott Glenn were lucky enough to spend time on US Navy submarines in preparation for their roles.


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