The Hobbit: the Desolation of Smaug, Shutter Island, Shaun of the Dead: films on TV today

Bilbo and the dwarves battle a fearsome dragon, DiCaprio investigates a mysterious disappearance and zombie survivors head to the pub: the RadioTimes team’s pick of free-to-air films on TV today




The Hobbit: the Desolation of Smaug ★★★
Premiere 7.45-10.45pm ITV 

The scaly mid-section of Peter Jackson’s second Tolkien trilogy, The Desolation of Smaug, is as finely tuned, visually resplendent and eager to entertain as we’ve frankly come to expect. Martin Freeman remains the key casting decision as Bilbo Baggins, carrying the story while flanked by Thorin (Richard Armitage) and his fellow dwarves, and sporadically assisted by Gandalf (Ian McKellen), Bard the Bowman (Luke Evans) and Legolas the elf (Orlando Bloom). Their quest covers Milkwood, Nazgul, Esgaroth and Laketown, although not necessarily in that order, and they effect amazing escapes – a particular corker involving wine barrels and some rapids, which strains at the parameters of special effects. But the endpoint is Lonely Mountain, where the giant dragon voiced with booming relish by Benedict Cumberbatch guards the Arkenstone. If any of that leaves you cold, you’re watching the wrong film franchise. The book was read to me at primary school and remains dear, although I remember it being a whole lot shorter. Next, The Battle of the Five Armies.

Star Trek ★★★★
7.00-9.30pm C4 

The crew of the Enterprise boldly goes back to the very beginning with director JJ Abrams at the helm. The latest in the space saga, Star Trek Beyond, is in cinemas on Friday.

Shutter Island ★★★
9.30pm-12.10am C4 

Martin Scorsese pays tribute to Alfred Hitchcock with this asylum-set creeper. Leonardo DiCaprio stars as a US marshal on the trail of a missing inmate.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest ★★★
10.35pm-12.55am BBC1 

Johnny Depp swaggers through this swashbuckling sequel that may have set sail without most of its plot but makes up for it with outstanding set pieces and an enduring sense of fun.     

Shaun of the Dead ★★★★★
9.00-11.05pm ITV2 

It’s gore and guffaw as Simon Pegg and Nick Frost find themselves at the centre of a zombie uprising in Edgar Wright’s spot-on spoof. 


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