ANDREW COLLINS: FILM OF THE DAY
Premiere The Hunter ★★★
Willem Dafoe gets to play the rugged outdoorsman in this elemental adaptation of the novel of the same name, about a mercenary sent to contemporary Tasmania to collect DNA samples of the Tasmanian Tiger, an elusive marsupial wolf believed to have been extinct since the 1930s. He lodges with Frances O’Connor and her daughters in their isolated house (their father went missing) and finds himself in the middle of brewing conflicts between the logging industry and environmentalists. Dafoe then disappears into the bush to track the chimerical beast. Sam Neill is solid as a taciturn local hunter with a special interest in the family and suspicions about Dafoe. Directed by Daniel Nettheim, it’s as much a slice of Australian wilderness life as a tooled-up action movie, with long, slow, meaningful passages in the woods. A sense of Moby Dick takes hold as an immersive Dafoe gets closer to his prey (or its legend), and to solving a mystery closer to home.
Iron Man ★★★★
The first big blockbuster of the year, Avengers: Age of Ultron, is set to explode at the box office next month, and here’s the film that got phase one of the Marvel franchise off to a flying start. Robert Downey Jr is at his wisecracking best as the charismatic but cocky weapons manufacturer who uses his talents for the common good after being held hostage in the Middle East.
21 Jump Street ★★★
It’s back to school for two hopeless policeman in this cracking cop comedy. Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum quickly learn that attitudes and fashions have changed since their student days (not least the cool way to carry your bag), as they go under cover to take down a drug-dealing operation. Chasing down a suspect while wearing skinny jeans is the just one of the new challenges they face.
The Smurfs ★★
Premiere 4.50-6.55pm ITV2
Those little blue critters find themselves transplanted from their forest idyll to the hustle and bustle of New York City in this slick mix of live action and animation. Recent Oscars host Neil Patrick Harris plays their human helper, while Katy Perry and Paul “Pee-Wee Herman” Reubens are among the talents lending their voices to the cute smurf characters.
Playing for Keeps ★★
Premiere 6.55-9.00pm Film4
A first chance on Freeview to catch this sportily themed romcom, which won’t tax the brain as the weekend draws to a close. Gerard Butler plays the dishy dad coaching his kid’s “soccer” (this is an American film) squad, fending off female admirers while trying to patch things up with his ex.
Who’s the scariest movie monster? Cast your vote in our Radio Times poll