War of the Worlds, King Arthur, The Narrow Margin: films on TV today

Invaders from the sky, rebels over Hadrian's Wall, assassins on a train: the RadioTimes team’s pick of free-to-air films on TV today

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ANDREW COLLINS:  FILM OF THE DAY 
War of the Worlds ★★★★
10.00pm-12.15am 5★ 

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Though true to the basic premise of HG Wells’s original 1898 novel – the arrival on Earth of malevolent Martian invaders – the action in Steven Spielberg’s noisy remake is necessarily moved from the book’s Surrey to New Jersey. (Necessary for the sake of international box office at any rate.) Here, Tom Cruise manages to conveniently use the imminent destruction of the human race to mend his relationship with his estranged wife (Miranda Otto) by delivering their children (Dakota Fanning, Justin Chatwin) to Boston. The battle sequences are truly terrific, especially when the aliens first emerge, moving about in towering tripods, incinerating humans with death rays and blowing up everything in their path (except Tom and the kids). But further thrills are produced when the game of hide and seek begins and clues to the alien’s Achilles heel are sought. What stayed with me was one spine-tingling sequence in which a creepy burning train rattles past.


King Arthur ★★★
10.00pm-12.25am C5 

The Arthurian legend is stripped of its mysticism in this exciting action adventure , but coming as it does from the entertainment factory of producer Jerry Bruckheimer you can be sure that what’s left has plenty of wallop. Clive Owen plays the once and future king as a stubborn but charismatic soldier, with Keira Knightley as his rebel warrior Guinevere, and Ray Winstone is great fun as one of Arthur’s loyal band. If it seems a bit like a medieval Magnificent Seven, you’ll be pleased to know that director Antoine Fuqua is currently engaged on remaking that very movie.    


The Narrow Margin ★★★★
11.35am-1.05pm Movies4Men 

If you’re only familiar with the Gene Hackman remake of this tense crime thriller, give the original a go. Gravel-voiced Charles McGraw plays the hard-boiled cop who must get gangster’s widow Marie Windsor alive to the grand jury with a danger-filled journey by train from Chicago to LA. Director Richard Fleischer counted it as his personal favourite of his movies – not bad for the man who made 10 Rillington Place, Soylent Green and Fantastic Voyage.


Down with Love ★★★
6.50-9.00pm Film Four 

 Ewan McGregor and Renée Zellweger have a load of fun channelling Doris Day and Rock Hudson in a fun and frothy homage to the sex comedies of the late 1950s and 60s. Director Peyton Reed gives the movie a rich Technicolored look and there’s a jaunty soundtrack featuring Frank Sinatra and Michael Bublé to accompany the action, as chauvinist magazine hack McGregor takes a bet to seduce and expose writer Zellweger, whose bestseller argues that the modern woman doesn’t need love and romance.  


Let Him Have It ★★★★
11.00pm-1.00am True Entertainment 

A young Christopher Eccleston stars as Derek Bentley in this searing true-story tale that recounts how a mentally ill teenager was dealt a tragic blow by the British justice system. It was Ecclestone’s feature debut, and he gives a marvellous performance, only two more movies away from breaking out with Shallow Grave, but he has assured support from Tom Courtenay and Eileen Atkins as his parents.     


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