ANDREW COLLINS: FILM OF THE DAY
X-Men: First Class ★★★★
The most recent instalment in the $3 billion Marvel mutant-superhero franchise, Days of Future Past, was far and away the most successful, taking more than twice as much worldwide as this, the fifth film and first prequel, from 2011. It’s an origins story, tracing – under the sure direction of Matthew Vaughn – the roots of various X-Men (and X-Women) including the group’s founder, Professor X (played with wry English suavity by Scot James McAvoy), and his future nemesis, Magneto (a lithe, teeth-gritting Michael Fassbender). Going back to Nazi-occupied Poland in 1944 for a striking opening sequence, the action moves to the early 60s for some effective, witty training sequences, and a climactic clash off the coast of Cuba (yes, they’ve audaciously co-opted the actual Missile Crisis). Nicholas Hoult and then-rising star Jennifer Lawrence give personality to the youthful cast, and January Jones makes a big impact as a seductive, shape-shifting telepath. She is, of course, back on TV screens currently in the valedictory season of Mad Men.
Jane Eyre ★★★
Charlotte Bronte’s classic gets another screen makeover with Michael Fassbender and winsome Mia Wasikowska. Swoon…
Red Heat ★★★
The Cold War thaws out just a little, as Russian cop Arnold Schwarzenegger comes to America and has to team up with police officer James Belushi.
Gosford Park ★★★★
Written by Julian Fellowes, and with Maggie Smith leading an all-star cast, Robert Altman’s magisterial upstairs/downstairs whodunnit certainly looks like Downton in embryo form.
Apollo 13 ★★★★
45 years ago this month, astronaut Jim Lovell informed Houston that their lunar mission had experienced “a problem”. It proved to be the understatement of the decade, as this gripping survival adventure recounts.
Buy your copy of Radio Times Guide to Films 2015 from the RT shop