Invictus, Edward Scissorhands, The Vikings: films on TV today

Rugby in South Africa, sharp fingers in suburbia and Kirk Douglas as a one-eyed Norseman: the RadioTimes team’s pick of free-to-air films on TV today




Invictus ★★★★
10.45pm-1.20am ITV 

Clint Eastwood’s unlikely biographical rugby film is an unashamed, broad-brushstrokes crowd-pleaser for sports fans in which the likeable Matt Damon plays actual South African captain Francois Pienaar and Morgan Freeman plays Nelson Mandela. It taught me that South Africa won the 1995 Rugby World Cup despite being a bit rubbish and mostly white, a fact conspicuous after Apartheid. The “rainbow nation” message is clear: at one point, the initially awkward white players sit young black kids from a township on their shoulders in a sequence resembling a bank advert. And when Pienaar’s white family take their black maid to the Cup Final, we must find this redemptive, not patronising. Invictus wants us to buy rugby not as a contact sport, but as a metaphor for community. Fair enough. It’s competently done and Clint handles the big stadium scenes well, but the rugby action is too frequently rendered in slow motion, as if it might not be exciting enough at normal speed.

Battle Los Angeles ★★★

11.05pm-1.20am C4 

Aaron Eckhart leads a platoon of US Marines in the last stand against an alien scourge, but the good news is, a lot of stuff gets blown up.     

The Vikings ★★★★★

4.00-6.25pm 5USA 

A legs-athwart actioner of the old school, with big cinematography, fabulous locations on actual fjords and Kirk Douglas and Tony Curtis giving it their all as Viking warriors.  

Edward Scissorhands ★★★★★

6.30-8.30pm E4 

In the first of many collaborations Johnny Depp and director Tim Burton take a literally scathing swipe at life in  suburbia, as Depp’s everyboy shreds everything he touches.    

The Woman in Black ★★★

11.00pm-12.50am Film4 

A brilliant re-creation of the mood of old Hammer horror films, with Daniel Radcliffe as the trusty young Victorian lawyer being spooked in a very peculiar remote town.     


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