BBC features – Friday 16th to Sunday 18th Janauary 2015

Saturday 17th

06:40 Skyrunners (Richard C. Okie/Adam Wilson/Melanie Wilson)

Sci-fi adventure about two brothers who discover a crashed UFO and decide to take it home. When younger brother Nick takes a trip into space, he discovers upon his return that he now has superhuman powers, turning his life upside down.

08:10 Henry VIII and his Six Wives (Ian Thorne)

Historical drama. On his deathbed, King Henry VIII recalls how he wooed and wed his six wives – and disposed of five of them – in a bid to secure the succession to the throne with a male heir. Despite his manymarriages and the crowded court, Henry remains essentially lonely. Adapted from the successful BBC TV series, with Keith Michell reprising his award-winning role.

13:35 The Wind and the Lion (John Milius)

Action drama about the kidnapping of an American widow and her children in Tangier in 1904, loosely based on fact. Recently elected president Roosevelt prepares to send in the marines, but in the interim Germany seeks to exploit the situation by landing troops in North Africa. Against this backdrop of power politics, a relationship develops between the woman and her abductor.

21:00 Armageddon (Jonathan Hensleigh/Tony Gilroy/Shane Salerno/Robert Roy Pool)

Sci-fi thriller in which the American government discovers that it has just 18 days to save the world from an approaching asteroid.

Undeterred by the threat of extinction, a brave though motley crew of oil drillers sets out to intercept the object and plant nuclear devices in its core.

22:30 All Good Things (Marcus Hinchey/Marc Smerling)

Tense crime drama tracing the mysterious and troubled relationship of a New York couple.

Sunday 18th

01:10 Phantoms (Dean R. Koontz)

Suspenseful thriller in which two sisters return to their Colorado home town only to find that the whole population has been wiped out by a mysterious force. Teaming up with the sheriff, his lecherous deputy and an ex-FBI agent, they are then terrorised by a supernatural power responsible for mass human disappearances throughout history.

16:10 Shrek the Third (Jeffrey Price/Peter S Seaman/William Steig/Jon Zack)

Second sequel in the popular animated fantasy franchise. Newlyweds Shrek and Fiona face their first marital hurdle when the sudden death of King Harold means Shrek himself is next in line. However, with fatherhood looming, Shrek is reluctant. He decides to try and find the true heir – Fiona’s errant, rebellious cousin. But while Shrek and his faithful companions Donkey and Puss in Boots go off in search of the heir, handsome rogue Prince Charming stages a coup at the castle.

23:00 Last Orders (Fred Schepisi/Graham Swift)

A group of lifelong friends gather together after the death of one of their number, a London butcher. The remaining buddies embark on a trip to scatter his ashes off the pier in Margate – the place where he wished to retire – and as the journey progresses they each reflect on the impact their deceased friend had on their lives.

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Spider-Man 2 — review

Adapted by Alvin Sargent from Spider-Man no More! by Stan Lee.

 

What’s so great about Spider-Man? I’ll tell you what’s so great about Spider-Man – this.

I’ve recently been going through the Spider-Man series, and eventually got to this one, having heard the legends of its greatness and legacy. Honestly, I still think it’s underrated.

The hero’s journey formula might be criticised regularly, but Spider-Man 2 shows what it’s capable of when done exactly right. Having done a more-than-satisfactory origin story, Sam Raimi, the director I’d aspire to be like, rolls-out the main event: the sequel. With everything established, we can go into a story allowed to have more time due out of not needing set-up. And at the heart of it’s Peter Parker, a protagonist I often say is the most relatable and inspiring. I myself have many moments through the day when I feel like him, and this motion picture was almost therapy, especially because I’m feeling quite low at the moment.
Ultimately, it’s a story of priorities. Parker has so much stuff happening in his life that each aspect of himself begins to wane, to the point that he realises he has to pick himself up and decide what he really wants, and to chase it.

And “what I want” is the theme of the story for everyone. Parker still desires Mary Watson, who in-turn discovers she really loves him. Aunt May wants to move-on from Uncle Ben’s death, John Jameson switches between wanting Spider-Man stopped and then wanting him back, while Harry Osborn wants to discover who Spider-Man is to kill him.
Following the narrative begun in Spider-Man, the dualism remains the driving factor, with Parker and Osborn against each-other by the time the story’s concluded, but it’s executed in a way I’d willingly compare to William Shakespeare’s Hamlet. The Prince of Denmark is young, and must decide if what he wants is valuable enough to endure the challenges it brings, or to give-up. Parker gives a similar speech during Spider-Man 2 in the window of his apartment, while Osborn discovers who Spider-Man really is, and drops his knife, and falls back into his chair out of pure shock. And it ends with a wedding, and everyone’s happy.

But it’s not just that. Osborn and Otto Octavius aren’t the only protagonists, but so is Parker himself. They exist on the fringes of his perception of the world, and the real battle is fought within him as he learns how to be happy, and to appreciate what he’s got and who he is. By the time the credits rolled, I’d shed a few tears. I’m not afraid to admit that. It’s a movie. But it speaks to all of us in a way personal and specific, and it’s an excellent example of how we all consume cinema in our, unique way. The one factor of Spider-Man 2 I appreciate the most is its representation of the Human condition, and that makes Spider-Man more superhuman than anyone. It does exactly what Spider-Man did – take the characters to challenging places, and build them up even higher. It just takes them to more extremes.
Spider-Man 2: the best superhero’s best film. 10/10Screenplay by Alvin Sargent

Batman — review

Adapted by Sam Hamm and Warren Skaaren from The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller.

 

Tim Burton must dream of being the Joker. And probably Batman. Because it’s clear in Batman that he understands those characters more than anyone else, and that’s why he conducted it as an opera. Which makes complete sense, because Gotham City is very operatic.  Batman Begins includes opera analogies, and here it’s the Batman and the Joker dancing at the top of a clock tower amid romantic accusations of creating each other, with references to other works like Beauty and the Beast. The way Burton sees Batman is that it’s the sum of a culture, which come together in such a way to create a tale of two men wanting revenge against the people that wronged them, and begin driven crazy as a result. Indeed, the scene involving the Joker improving the paintings while dancing to Prince is by far the best, and most interesting part. The Joker says he’s “the world’s first, fully-functioning, homicidal artist”, who “makes art until someone dies”. He even says that, as an artist, he shouldn’t be compared to normal people. Anyone familiar with the works of Burton, including Edward Scissorhands and Alice in Wonderland, need not be told that this is Burton himself speaking through these characters. Everything, from the production design, to the performances, to the artistic decisions made, are an extension of him, and it’s surprising that his name doesn’t precede the main title, possessively: Tim Burton’s Batman is what this really should have been called.

Is it like the comic books? Well… no. But that’s good. Because one of the most annoying things about comic book adaptations is that studios expect people to want the same thing every time. And we don’t. Just… make something unique, and it will probably stand the test of time that way. Burton is an auteur, and you can tell with this. It’s obvious that everything on screen has gone through him, and all of it’s threaded together, with the assistance of Michael Keaton. Keaton is by far the best Batman, because he was working with the director that understands him the most. Instead of being an intelligent forensics analyst, he’s truly insane. Many have attempted to make a man dressing as a bat to fight crime look understandable, but Burton understood that it can’t be, and decided to theme everything around that. Wayne is insane, the Joker is insane. And so they’ll dance together. The two freaks, who are the most liberated people for being out of touch with reality.

What Batman did for the character is to unmask him. To show us that, as much as we like to pretend to, we don’t really know him, and shouldn’t try to. Because he’s dangerous. It shows us all we should see of him, and then takes us out of it knowing that he shouldn’t be touched, because ultimately he’s warped and, as a result of trauma, reacts by making people like the Joker. There are many stories, like The Killing Joke, that makes Batman and the Joker look the same, but none of them accomplished it quite like Batman, because that retcons the Joker into also creating him. The theme of the story is that these people were made for each other, because only they are as insane as each other. And that’s quite beautiful, in a gothic kind of way.

 

Batman: operatic analogies justify character mythologies. 8/10

Screenplay by Sam Hamm and Waren Skaaren

Edward Scissorhands — review

Written by Caroline Thompson

 

To say Edward Scissorhands the first collaboration between director Tim Burton and actor Johnny Depp, and that Burton and composer Danny Elfman consider it their favourite production, says a lot about its pretense. Because it – and “it” in this case is the protagonist and his single quirk – is only really a novelty for five minutes. And that’s a problem when trying to carry something for about two hours.

Edward Scissorhands, as a character, is Johnny Depp’s breakthrough role, and his entire performance is in the eyes. His hands might be scissors, but the character is all in the face. At times, it reminded me of Kate Bush. But the backstory is introduced in such a haphazard style that you can’t tell what kind of story Edward Scissorhands wants to be, and it doesn’t seem to be able to tell either. It begins with a bedtime story telling the legend of the character, before cutting to a gothic castle, and then a colour neighbourhood ala The Stepford Wives. One of Burton’s signature styles is to combine fantasy with normality, and to make normality more of a fantasy than the actual fantasy elements. And that’s because Burton is an art director. He’s the most arty director there is, and yet Edward Scissorhands is an attempt at mainstream cinema. But this just doesn’t work because mainstream cinema requires certain narrative pillars, whereas Edward Scissorhands would have been much better suited to a release in an art house rather than global cinemas.

Really, the problem in it is that the protagonist isn’t developed. The story sways between one sight gag to another, with him reacting to a variety of domestic things in the style that one would if one had scissors for hands and no understanding of the world. There isn’t a story here, it’s really just a novelty. And it wears off very quickly.

 

Edward Scissorhands: inconsistent sight gags prove disappointing. 4/10

Still, at least it isn’t Edward Penishands.

Spider-Man — review

Adapted by David Koepp from Spider-Man! by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko.

 

Spider-Man is the first Marvel adaptation to feature their “flicker” logo. Which is an important visual aspect, because this was Marvel’s first major cinematic venture.  This was the first time they had, as a company, attempted to successfully take one of their characters to the big screen and start a chain of other adaptations. And it has to be said that, in everything they’ve made since, particularly the Cinematic Universe, nothing has matched the simplicity, minimalism and effectiveness of Spider-Man.

What stands-out about it the most is the way it looks like the comic book that inspired it. Every colour is bright and cartoonish, and the various aspects of motion picture production come together to create something that looks as if we’re literally inside the world of the Spider-Man comic books. But there’s more than that.

As the first Spider-Man adaptation, it’s also his origin story, and that leads to a lot of subtext about identity and hero worshiping. The two protagonists are promoted as Peter Parker and Mary Watson, but are actually Parker and Norman Osborn. The hero and the villain. Comic books are dualistic, and chronicle the battles between good and evil. And Harry Osborn is his greatest enemy, so it makes sense for him to begin this trilogy.

Parker transforms into Spider-Man as a result of biology and nature. His abilities are part of him, and are things he can do. So when he turns them to crime-fighting, he chooses to cover his whole face to be unseen. He becomes a canvas on-which people can place their image of a hero, and New York soon debates against itself his motives, with many coming-out and defending him. Osborn’s transformed into Green Goblin as a result of science and technology. He doesn’t have his powers, and instead flies by means of a glider and blows things up with pumpkin bombs, rather than save and defend with webs. Naturally, this still means we get the cliched “we’re the same” speech between hero and villain, ala Batman/Joker. Spider-Man may have been controversial, but Green Goblin was an obvious villain, and the New Yorkers recognise this, which is ultimately what turns them toward Spider-Man. Meanwhile, J. Jonah Jameson manipulates their perception through the Daily Bugle, which Parker works for. The Bugle might question Spider-Man’s alignment, but the media’s completely turned-against Osborn by the end. This is a tale of people choosing their Gods, and which side to take in a battle.

In Osborn’s quarters are a variety of tribal masks, and the Green Goblin becomes one of them when Osborn hears his dark side speaking to him through it. “Weird Al” Yankovic’s Piano Man parody about Spider-Man described him as scarier when not wearing it, and this is true – as the plot progresses, he begins to look like it. Instead, Parker’s using his mask to score with Watson upside down in the rain (leading to a gloriously uplifting shot of her laughing up at the stormy sky). Whereas Osborn is totally evil on the outside, Parker is good on the inside, and that’s the heart of the story: what’s on the inside.

Spider-Man‘s bookended by Parker narrating to the audience the story of how he came to be who he is. Uncle Ben tells him that his age is part of the age group where a man becomes the man he’s going to be for the rest of his life. That doesn’t really make much sense, but it fits with the idea behind the story, because he tells him about how great power comes with great responsibility, a theme which plays right through, and is the most important part in all of this. Osborn uses his power to eliminate his rivals, whereas Parker uses his powers to protect people. And this even means protecting Watson by rejecting her despite having been desiring her since he first saw her. If they were together, she could become a target because of his other life as Spider-Man. And he chooses to sacrifice a life with her just to keep her safe. And in that moment, he embraced the challenges that came with being a superhero. And for someone like that – someone who was an outcast – to make that kind of decision is the kind of inspiration that superheroes are about, and none other than Spider-Man. Because he’s just like us. His life has a through line. There’s an underlying idea behind everything, while also having an over-laying optimism in colour and performance. He doesn’t need to repeat a word often enough for it become a theme (looking at you, Man of Steel) and he shows us what life is really about: the power we have, and what we do with it.

 

Spider-Man: inspiring subtext over optimistic mise-en-scene. 7/10

Oh, and J.K. Simmons is freaking awesome.

Screenplay by David Koepp

Marvel’s the Avengers — review

Adapted by Joss Whedon from The Coming of the Avengers!, by Stan Lee.

 

Marvel’s the Avengers is the most important release of this decade, because of how mimicked it’s become. In its time, bringing together the protagonists of previous releases was most famous for the Universal monsters from the dawn of sound, but as cinema’s become more culturally important, trends have emerged and right now the top trend is superhero teams. The superhero genre is the most successful currently, with next year seeing the return of such teams like X-Men, and even Marvel’s the Avengers‘ sequel, Avengers: Age of Ultron. When students study cinema, it’s divided into eras of trends, and right now, we’re in the middle of the superhero trend, and we have Marvel’s the Avengers to thank for that. Because it made a point about the genre – these characters are already interesting, but we appreciate them because they’re together. Had the Avengers not formed a team, the Marvel Cinematic Universe wouldn’t be nearly as popular as it is. Each character might be loved, but without Marvel’s the Avengers, they wouldn’t be loved together.

In the same way as The Expendables is considered the most important of the action genre, Marvel’s the Avengers is the definitive example of the superhero genre. Which isn’t to say it’s the best, but the definitive. Superhero teams are underrepresented in the genre, and this particular team has enough of a wide range to make it a microcosm for the other conventions of its own genre. Every stock character type is present in the team, and that makes it the go-to for lessons in superhero writing. Because of Marvel’s the Avengers, viewing a great number of genre pieces is unnecessary, because everything in them is presented in a singular piece here. By combining each extreme of the superhero colour wheel, Joss Whedon has eliminated competition. It’s almost to say “you don’t need to see that, we already did it”. Only that statement applies multiple times over.

By bringing these characters together, we learn about the kind of storytelling that brings them to life. Whereas many superheroes could be used as examples of the best, Marvel’s the Avengers makes a very important observation: they’re better together. What’s the point in there being a superhero if they exist all alone? And the good thing about that is that some of these characters arguably aren’t superheroes. Stark created a battlesuit, Banner has a psychological condition, Romanova has gun skills, Odinson has a unique weapon, Barton is good at archery and Rogers has gymnastics skills. None of them have super powers per se, but the idea of the Avengers Initiative is to bring together “remarkable” people. At no point is “super” mentioned. The reason it succeeds so well is because it isn’t trying to be a superhero story, it’s just treating these people as unique examples of humans. And that’s the best way of doing it, because then it becomes a story about characters, not their powers.

Whedon’s greatest strength is his ability to write characters, and in writing superheroes – not his best genre – he just applies the same skills, the same approach, and the result is characters you want to succeed, that you want to do well and that you find yourself liking immensely. Where you care more about what they’d get at a drive-thru than whether they can fly a jet, or what video-games they prefer than their scientific knowledge, or what their personal interests are than who can best the other in combat.

Marvel’s the Avengers shows other people how to write not just superhero teams, but ensemble casts, and characters. It shows that we should care more about how they make us feel than what the plot was. The reason Marvel’s the Avengers is so enjoyable to watch is purely because of the way the characters are respected enough to not be treated as the superheroes they only technically are.

 

Marvel’s the Avengers: superheroes treated realistically with respect. 7/10

The Amazing Spider-Man — review

Adapted by James Vanderbilt, Steve Kloves and Alvin Sargent from The Amazing Spider-Man by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko.

 

Did you know Spider-Man is the highest-grossing fictional character? When taking into account everything, merely including cinema, he’s earned more money than any other character. So it’s no surprise Columbia Pictures want to keep the character. The Amazing Spider-Man was originally Spider-Man 4, but numerous reasons lead to it being a reboot. This meant re-telling his origin story, introducing a new actor as Spider-Man and reinventing the franchise. Many of the positive reviews I give are often due to me considering something to be an accomplishment, and The Amazing Spider-Man is definitely an accomplishment. Because never, in anything else, have I found myself being so immersed in a story because of the combination between character and actor. Andrew Garfield was the perfect casting choice, due to his subtle nuances and ability to make Peter Parker the everyboy, while also showing him to be extraordinary.

As someone’s who never read a single issue of The Amazing Spider-Man, it’s never been a part of me. And I haven’t, as yet, seen any of the original trilogy. This was the first Spider-Man-related product I was exposed to, and that makes me see it as the perfect representation of what that world is probably like. Hiring Mark Webb, the director of (500) Days of Summer, was a genius move. Too many people make the mistake of labelling genres based on setting, rather than characters. The Amazing Spider-Man is, based on Peter Parker’s relationship with Gwen Stacy, a teen comedy drama. And it’s the Parker/Stacy relationship that’s at the heart of the story, and his transformation into Spider-Man is just a part of that. It’s a part of that story, rather than being the story. Which is totally the right way to do  it – I care more about who’s under the mask, and what’s going on in his life. Everything is attached to the romance plot, and the whole story feels imbued with it. There’s a magic to it, because we find ourselves instantly loving our lead actor and protagonist, as well as a darkness, because of the themes and what the characters go through. But ultimately, as is every story, the latter is the most important thing. It’s a story about characters who come closer together because they’re missing something. Parker’s missing his parents, and this brings him closer to Stacy. Stacy’s Father dies, and this brings her closer to Parker. Uncle Ben dies, and this brings Aunt May closer to Parker. The only person who doesn’t come closer to someone is Curtis Connors, who’s missing his arm. And he deals with that through scientific means, rather than emotional means. One of the things about Spider-Man is his ability to be an emotional character, and can show us – because he’s the Everyboy – that emotion is an advantage. Emotion is at the heart of the story, and the story is about how emotion will save us. Spider-Man isn’t like Batman; he doesn’t deal with his trauma by beating people, and he isn’t like Superman, by snapping necks because of his anger. Spider-Man lets it out, shows us it’s going to be okay, and is able to still be happy. We like Peter Parker because he’s happy, despite everything. It’s a bittersweet tale of a person who’s learned to appreciate things, and I’d say that’s what makes The Amazing Spider-Man stand-out as a motion picture: it’s the story of the man behind the mask. It’s about Peter Parker. Others could be Spider-Man, but only he can make him amazing.

And for the first time, we have a character transformed into a superhero, who actually freaks out about becoming a superhero. Were I to acquire superpowers, my initial reaction would be “Holy fuckballs, I’m a fucking superhuman!” They’re only fiction, and in becoming Spider-Man, he embraces it in the most believable way. Which is to go “Ahahahahahaha! Screw you guys, I’ve got superpowers”. Don’t lie – you’d do it. As Webb had only really directed independents up until this point, he’d learned to check the egos at the door. The story isn’t about promoting the characters, it’s just showing us them, and letting us appreciate them for what they are. In Batman adaptations (which I don’t dislike), his most common phrase is “I’m Batman!”, and Superman is dripping with egomania. But this isn’t about the superhero, it’s about the secret identity, and unlike others that attempt to do this, actually seems to know how. That’s why I’ve constantly referred him to as Peter Parker, not Spider-Man. Because one of those is an alias. Only one of them’s a character.

The Amazing Spider-Man: the superhero genre’s Citizen Kane. 8/10

Superman/Batman: Public Enemies — review

Adapted by Stan Berkowitz, based on The World’s Finest.

In every superhero team, there comes a point where that team becomes hunted by the government and/or other superheroes. So it’s important for that team to use their version of it to show why they’re the best superhero team. And with superheroes, suspension of disbelief is the most important thing. If we can’t believe that what’s happening is really happening, we don’t care for the characters or their attempt to escape from official imprisonment.

In Superman/Batman: Public Enemies, Lex Luthor somehow becomes President, and uses the opportunity to register all metahumans as either working for him or… public enemies. And throughout the story, Superman and Batman are the only heroes not to start working for him. Which means, in their fugitive state, they encounter just about every secondary DC character there is, to the point that you begin to wonder what the odds are of only Superman and Batman not trusting Luthor. That is to say, do these people even know the significance of Superman? He was the first superhero to begin operating publically, he allowed the public to have the confidence of trusting the others. So his nemesis becomes President, and they accept that? Are these heroes really so dense as to not see the problem with that? And apart from anything, it’s the battles that are the most confusing. With these kind of characters, their powers are what create the odds of victory in battle. It’s like manga, where each character has their own, respectable level of abilities that influence the outcome of a match. For example, Superman’s weakness is Kryptonite. Okay. So… what’s the limit with that? Because it seems that Superman can survive any amount of Kryptonite. Is it really fatal to him, or just an inconvenience? He fights varying levels of it through the narrative and reacts in the same way every time. There’s no consistency, and that’s essential in a story that’s basically a series of set piece fighting matches.

Superman/Batman: Public Enemies may have an interesting idea behind it, but it doesn’t really go anywhere with that idea, instead using it as an opportunity for, like all DC Animated Original Movies, tonnes of fights. The previews and special features constantly show us writers talking about the emotional side of characters, and they function psychologically, but none of that comes across in this series. Which I’ve now finished, so I’ll be moving on to other things in no particular way. Which is the best method, really, because it’s good to have variety.

 

Superman/Batman: Public Enemies – wasted potential as meaningless fights. 5/10

Superman & Batman: Apocalypse — review

Adapted by Tab Murphy from Supergirl From Krypton.

 

Superman & Batman: Apocalypse is a strange case in terms of what it wants to achieve. The title would tell you it’s a team-up between the World’s Finest, as they journey to Apocalypse to fight Darkseid. Which is what happens, but that isn’t the main event. Instead, the story is really about the arrival of Kara Zor-El, and how she adapts to Earth life with the guidance of cousin Kal-El and Wonder Woman, Diana. Bruce Wayne, a headline character sharing the billing with Kal-El, only plays a supporting role, and the story can’t seem to decide what it wants to be.

What it is though, is actually better than you might expect it to be. There are some real moments of believability, as Zor-El adjusts to her new home by going on a shopping spree and experiencing hot-dogs, all while dragging Kal-El around with her, who already feels Human enough to react how you might expect him to. Another highlight is her reaction to the death of Harbinger, which was underplayed to effect. Or is that just because I sensed a romantic subtext between them?

The best part is after the battle between Zor-El and Darkseid, destroying Kent Farm. When the Kents return, they see the destruction around them, and Kal-El stands amidst it with a girl in clothes ripped to shreds. His reaction takes the character from Superman to Clark Kent without the distinction. It’s a subtle, but important factor. Unfortunately, the battle itself is the problem. Having reasoned to Darkseid, Kal-El is able to take Zor-El away from Apocalypse, and prepares her for the meeting between his parents. Darkside then emerges from within to destroy Kal-El. It was a surprising twist, but follows completely brought down the tone of the story. Somehow, Darkside tossed Kal-El so far that he was thrown toward the sun. Meanwhile, Zor-El was left to fight Darkseid herself. It reminded me of Man of Steel‘s latter half, with the violence becoming so overblown that it lost its effect to the point of the audience no longer really feeling the force of the violence. The conflict between them wasn’t between the characters, it was just between two super-powered characters. And naturally, Zor-El’s clothes became torn-off, showing much flesh. Kal-El had a few rips here and there, but none to the point matching Zor-El’s. It was very reminiscent of Michael Bay: tedious levels of destruction, leading to an opportunity for eye candy. It felt like a weight on the end of an okay story, that makes you feel as if its too long (which it was), and had already reached a satisfying conclusion.

While the ending lacks confidence, what comes before is several stories in one, and the whole thing feels as if its an extended recap of a television series rather than a single story. Subplots and multiple plot-lines aren’t a bad thing, but Superman & Batman: Apocalypse doesn’t seem to be very good at them.

 

Superman & Batman: Apocalypse: multiple plotlines and overblown finale 5/10.

BBC features – Friday 9 to Sunday 11th January 2015

Saturday 10th January 2015

06:00 Apache Territory (Frank L Moss/Charles R Marion/George W George)

Western. Cowboy Logan Cates (Rory Calhoun) is caught travelling through Apache territory. He must fight his way out and rescue a woman on his way.

 

07:10 Private’s Progress (John Boulting/Frank Harvey)

Lighthearted comedy about an upper-crust chap who joins the army and has problems coping with the regimented lifestyle. He soon becomes known as a misfit, only to find a little salvation in the form of his uncle, who has been looting German art treasures from behind enemy lines.

 

08:45 The Maggie (William Rose)

An Ealing Studios comedy-drama from 1954 depicting a clash of cultures between a hard-nosed American businessman and a crafty Scottish sea captain, inspired by Neil Munro’s stories of the Vital Spark and her captain Para Handy. The Maggie is a small, ageing Clyde puffer boat and her Captain, the wily Mactaggart, is desperately in need of £300 to renew his license. A chance meeting at a shipping firm office leads to a mistaken commission to transport furniture for an American businessman, Calvin B Marshall. On learning of the reality of how his goods were being transported, Marshall takes matters into his own hands. A plane and car chase ensues with numerous colourful adventures en-route to the Maggie’s final destination.

 

13:45 The Ipcress File (Bill Canaway/James Doran)

Spy thriller in which an agent is assigned to investigate a bizarre brain drain among scientists, and finds himself embroiled in a world of espionage where nobody can be trusted and nothing is what it seems. Based on the novel by Len Deighton, it has spawned two sequels.

 

21:00 Marvel’s The Avengers (Joss Whedon)

Comic book action adventure. The director of peacekeeping agency S.H.I.E.L.D. gathers an elite team of superheroes including The Hulk, Captain America, Black Widow, Iron Man and Thor when the Norse god’s evil brother steals a cosmic cube from an underground base. The group must work together to protect the Earth from the leader of an extraterrestrial race and it’s army intent on harnessing the cube’s power.

 

22:00 The Other Boleyn (Peter Morgan)

A passionate story of love, rivalry and a family torn apart by ambition, based on Philippa Gregory’s novel. Against the epic backdrop of a defining period in English history, this is an intimate study of a relationship between a man and two sisters: the youngest replaces her sister in the man’s affections, starting a chain of events that lead ultimately to her death. The man is Henry VIII, King of England, and the two sisters Mary and Anne Boleyn. Mary is the first to catch the King’s eye, but is cast aside in favour of the dazzling Anne, whose passionate nature and relentless pursuit of the crown propel her towards her doom.

 

Sunday 11th January 2015

00:40 Lady Caroline Lamb (Robert Bolt)

Caroline Ponsonby, the highly strung daughter of Lord and Lady Bessborough, rushes into marriage with William Lamb, Viscount Melbourne. Growing bored with her placid husband, Caroline is drawn to the undeniable charms of fledgling poet George Byron and they begin a torrid affair, but since neither of them are prepared to play to the rules of Regency high society, their indiscretion leads to tragedy.

 

01:20 Kevin and Perry Go Large (Dave Cummings/Harry Enfield)

Comedy featuring characters from Harry Enfield’s sketch programmes. Kevin and Perry, the ultimate stroppy teenagers and aspiring DJs, are fed up with their ‘virgin’ status. They want action, so they decide to head to Ibiza, which they believe is home to the best clubs and carefree sex. There’s just one catch: Kevin’s parents want to come too.

 

02:40 Love (William Eubank)

Drama. An astronaut finds himself stranded on a space station in a constant orbit around the Earth. Contact with the outside world is impossible.

 

06:10 Shrek 2 (Andrew Adamson/Joe Stillman/J. David Stem/David N. Weiss)

BBC One Animated sequel following the grumpy ogre and his bride as they head for the land of Far Far Away to meet her parents. As Shrek contends with his new in-laws, the wicked Fairy Godmother sets in motion a dastardly scheme to scupper his marriage to Fiona. And will any of them survive at the hands of dandy assassin Puss in Boots?