300, Avatar, Oldboy: films on TV today

Bare-chested Spartans, blue creatures in loin cloths and an incarcerated wild man out for revenge: the RadioTimes team’s pick of free-to-air films on TV today




300 ★★★★
9.00-11.20pm ITV2 

Adapted from Frank (Sin City) Miller’s graphic novel, this is the story of how, in 480 BC, 300 Spartans under King Leonidas (Gerard Butler) held off the Persian hordes at Thermopylae and helped save ancient Greek civilisation. And, boy, did they hold them off. You’ve rarely seen such slaughter because, with the liberal aid of CGI, this is like a violent video game writ large, all whirling axes, thrusting spears, blood spouting, heads and limbs scattered to the winds. The narrative itself borders on the nonsensical, but once you get used to the unlikely sight of all those multi-muscled Spartans, their bodies so digitally enhanced that they seem to have been pumping iron since birth, it becomes oddly gripping. Technically it’s fascinating and, to be fair, you do learn something, not much but a bit, about what happened at Thermopylae. There’s a subplot involving treachery at Leonidas’s court but mostly it’s a frenetic bloodbath. The squeamish will squeam a lot.

The Anderson Tapes ★★★

7.00-9.00pm Movie Mix 

Sean Connery in Sidney Lumet’s heist caper about a daring robbery of a luxury apartment block, with a wildly varied support cast including a young Christopher Walken and The Wizard of Oz’s Wicked Witch Margaret Hamilton in one of her final roles. 

Avatar ★★★

9.00pm-12.10am Film4 

Breaking pretty much every box-office record set by his own Titanic, James Cameron’s sci-fi fantasy is film-making on the most epic scale, especially if you like the colour blue.     

Daybreakers ★★★

10.30pm-12.20am Spike 

The world didn’t need another vampire movie, but blood is money in this clever allegory on corporate greed. Ethan Hawke and Sam Neill are at each other’s throats, metaphorically.    

Oldboy ★★★★

12.40-2.55am Horror Channel 

The second instalment of Park Chan-wook’s Vengeance Trilogy is Kafka plus violence, a wild thriller about a man imprisoned by person(s) unknown for 15 years. And when he gets out, it’s payback time.   


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