Watchmen, Harry Potter and The Inbetweeners: films on TV today

Superheroes come under threat, Daniel Radcliffe makes his magical debut, and school's out for the Rudge Park boys: the RadioTimes team’s pick of free-to-air films on TV today

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ANDREW COLLINS: FILM OF THE DAY 
Watchmen ★★★★
11.05pm-2.15am Film Four 

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Although master comic-book writer and my fellow Northamptonian Alan Moore refuses to have his name on any movie adaptation of his work, Zack Snyder’s ambitious film of his most famous piece, the complex, hard-boiled graphic novel Watchmen, is to my mind the best. A Cold War fable about discredited, out-of-work superheroes, the story has only been mildly tinkered with and its look has been affectionately transferred from Dave Gibbons’s precise and disciplined artwork. A fine but far from starry cast (Billy Crudup, Patrick Wilson, Matthew Goode, Jackie Earle Haley, Malin Akerman) allows us to climb inside the dark, troubled lives of the retired caped crusaders, who are forced back into work when one of their own meets a sticky end. Frankly, if you’re not drawn in and captivated by the bravura opening credits sequence, you’re watching the wrong film. If you are, prepare for an epic, grown-up, thought-provoking ride from New York to Antarctica via Mars and the end of the world. 


Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone ★★★★
3.10-6.00pm ITV 

If you’ve already seen the saga play out to its epic end, it’s a weird experience revisiting the very first film. For a start, Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson are all impossibly young, while the mood is lighter and more upbeat compared with the later entries. But there’s still plenty to marvel at, and those first glimpses of Hogwarts are guaranteed to fill you with wonder – and not a little envy.


The Inbetweeners Movie ★★★
9.00-11.00pm C4 

Following in a long but not always successful tradition of sitcom spin-off features (On the Buses, Are You Being Served, Steptoe and Son et al), the story here finds our protagonists leaving Blighty in search of sunnier climbs. But unlike its predecessors, the box office-busting Inbetweeners Movie delivers an embarrassment of comedy riches, as Will, Simon, Jay and Neil’s dreams of a hedonistic holiday in Malia go awry in cringe-tastic fashion. There’s more from the hapless quartet in The Inbetweeners  2, released on DVD/Blu-ray on Monday. 


The Fifth Element ★★★★
3.40-6.05pm 5★ 

Luc Besson’s gleefully over-the-top sci-fi adventure sees Bruce Willis play an irascible 23rd century cabbie who becomes caught up in the struggle between the forces of good and evil. Besson’s real-life partner of the time, Milla Jovovich, plays the mysterious creature who everyone wants to get their hands on, while Gary Oldman is ludicrously good value as the baddie. Quite what Bristol musician Tricky is doing here is anyone’s guess, but anything goes in this sci-fi epic. 


The Perfect Storm ★★★
7.00-9.45pm ITV2 

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In 1991, Hurricane Grace rocked the East Coast of the United States. This true-story movie relates the story of a fishing crew who became caught up in what was dubbed “the perfect storm”. Their plight is made all the more watchable thanks to the efforts of an A-list cast led by George Clooney and Mark Wahlberg, who aren’t going to go down to Davy Jones’s locker without a fight.