ANDREW COLLINS: FILM OF THE DAY
X-Men: First Class ★★★★
9.00-11.40pm Film Four
With the latest instalment in the $2.3 billion Marvel mutant-superhero franchise, Days of Future Past, in cinemas on Thursday 22 May, here’s an opportune moment to revisit the lively prequel to which it is a sequel. (Stay with me here!) First Class is an origins story, which, under the sure direction of Matthew Vaughn, traces 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 of 1944 for a striking opening sequence, the action moves to the early 60s for some effective — and in places, rather witty — training sequences for the young mutants, 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 (that’s her on the right in blue body paint) give personality to the youthful cast, and January Jones makes a big impact in downtime from Mad Men as a seductive, shape-shifting telepath.
Fantastic Voyage ★★★★
It’s kill or cure when a team of boffins (and Raquel Welch) are miniaturised and injected into a dying scientist. This is 60s sci-fi at its best, but beware of white corpuscles.
Dirty Dozen director Robert Aldrich showed how hellish war could be with this hard-boiled examination of a platoon in battle. Tough guys (and real-life veterans) Jack Palance and Lee Marvin head the cast.
Gunga Din ★★★★★
British soldiers Cary Grant, Douglas Fairbanks Jr and Victor McLaglen battle an Indian cult, aided by resourceful water boy (Sam Jaffe), in this rip-roaring adventure based on Rudyard Kipling’s poem.
Planet of the Apes ★★★★★
6.40-9.00pm Film Four
If you’ve liked the recent apes reboots, you’ll want to check out Charlton Heston in this 1967 classic. Situations don’t come much hairier.