Battleship, From Dusk till Dawn, Rocky Balboa: films on TV today

There's aliens on the starboard bow, vampires lurking south of the border and an Italian Stallion on the comeback trail: the RadioTimes team’s pick of free-to-air films on TV today


Battleship ★★★
8.00-10.35pm C4 


Those of us who fell in love with Taylor Kitsch during HBO’s long-running Texan high-school football drama Friday Night Lights have spent the subsequent years willing him on as he attempts to convert his heart-throb power to movie-star status. After the commercial misfire John Carter, and back with director and FNL creator Peter Berg, we hoped for better with Battleship, despite it being based on the Hasbro board game. As much sci-fi spectacle as military action thriller, Battleship cuts Kitsch’s hair and puts him in uniform as the promisingly insolent Navy lieutenant whose ship is sucked into a confrontation with an alien mothership in Hawaii. Digital effects dominate, with the human cast – including Liam Neeson’s admiral, Alexander Skarsgard’s commander and pop singer Rihanna’s weapons specialist (and why not?) – struggling to make much emotional impact against all the surf, bluster, firepower and sonorous groaning noises. It’s a lot of dimwitted fun, actually, and it made $300 million. Taylor was saved. 

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets ★★★★
3.00-6.00pm ITV 

Having saved Hogwarts at the end of year one, Harry begins his second year in detention after he and Ron fly a bewitched Ford Anglia straight into the Whomping Willow. And there’s plenty more magical mayhem to follow in this first sequel, which even the purists agreed stayed pretty faithful to JK Rowling’s original book. They all got a bit darker after this, though.  

Rocky Balboa ★★★
8.30-10.30pm C5 

What’s that crazy old actor still doing in the ring at his age? He’s twice the other guy’s age! Oh… he won. Well, enough about Mickey Rourke, here’s the sixth film in the Sylvester Stallone boxing franchise, which in lieu of recent events, suddenly doesn’t seem so far-fetched after all. He may no longer be a spring chicken – let alone catch one in a training montage – but you can’t help but cheer on Sly’s punch-drunk hero as he trains for one final bout. Until his next comeback, that is. 

From Dusk till Dawn ★★★★
10.35pm-12.40am C4 

Is it a heist movie? Is it a hostage drama? Is it a vampire shoot-’em-up? Yes, yes and yes. Robert Rodriguez’s genre-bending follow-up to Desperado blends action, tension and gore with some supercool dialogue, courtesy of Quentin Tarantino’s script. It also has a killer cast, with George Clooney and Tarantino himself (proving he can act, for once) as a pair of sibling crooks, Harvey Keitel as a faithless preacher and Juliette Lewis as his jailbait daughter. Assorted other Rodriguez regulars crop up throughout this deliriously deranged offering, with Salma Hayek’s cameo a real show-stopper.    

Night and the City ★★★
11.45pm-1.25am BBC2 


This adaptation of Gerald Kersh’s book may not be as well known or as well regarded as the original 1950 film, but fans of Robert De Niro won’t be disappointed. He’s on great form as a fast-talking, ambulance-chasing lawyer who sees an opportunity to make a name for himself as a boxing promoter. But, from the off, you just know that De Niro’s is getting out of his depth, and that his dreams for a new life with Jessica Lange are doomed.