AI: Artificial Intelligence, The Ladykillers, The Replacement Killers: films on TV today

Haley Joel Osment discovers it's not easy being android, Alec Guinness and gang meet their match, and Chow Yun-Fat is a hitman with a conscience: the RadioTimes team’s pick of free-to-air films on TV today


AI: Artificial Intelligence ★★★★
11.45pm-2.00am BBC1 


Steven Spielberg’s overlong, futuristic sci-fi fable was released in the UK in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 and I vividly remember feeling doubly unsettled at the sight of his CGI depiction of a flooded Manhattan, including the partially submerged Twin Towers. But it’s more than simply spectacle. At its heart, it’s Pinocchio, as filtered through the fertile minds of Brian Aldiss, who wrote the short story, and Stanley Kubrick, who began developing the project but died in 1999. The allegory about a robot boy (Haley Joel Osment) who is abandoned in the woods by his adoptive human parents (Sam Robards and The Missing’s Frances O’Connor) perfectly suits Spielberg’s family-orientated sensibilities. The orphaned “mecha” then joins forces with Jude Law’s gigolo-bot to embark on a quest to find the Blue Fairy and become a “real boy”. Scary in places, especially the steampunk section, it’s a treat for the eyes but I would speculate more schmaltzy than Kubrick’s version would have been.

Battle Cry ★★★★
11.30am-1.50pm BBC2 

Van Heflin stars in this drama about a group of young men drafted into the marines during the Second World War. It follows their journey from the rigours of training to the horror of battle, while also focusing on their complicated private lives. It’s all apparently based on the true wartime activities of writer Leon Uris.

Went the Day Well? ★★★★★
11.40am-1.25pm More4 

Brilliant, and at times chilling, wartime drama in which the resolve of the inhabitants of an English village is tested when Nazi soldiers infiltrate their cosy idyll.

The Ladykillers ★★★★★
12.45-2.40pm 5USA 

There’s been an thoroughly enjoyable stage version with Peter Capaldi, no less, as the villainous Professor Marcus and a mehhh kind of remake by the Coens starring Tom Hanks. But they all take as their starting point this darkly funny masterpiece from Ealing Studios, in which a gang of crooks led by Alec Guinness are no match for their eccentric landlady.

The Replacement Killers ★★★
9.00-10.50pm Movie Mix 

No subtle plot nuances to be found here, I’m afraid, if that’s your thing. But if you want non-stop action with superbly crafted set pieces then this thrill ride in which Chow Yun-Fat plays a hitman who himself becomes a target is the one for you. 


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