A Brief Guide To Films On Telly This Weekend

If you don’t fancy venturing out in the pouring rain this weekend and are planning to curl up on the sofa instead, well you might want to give these films airing on your telebox a brief once over.

Terminator: Salvation (2009) – Saturday, Channel 4, 9.30pm

It’s the terrestrial premiere of the fourth instalment of the Terminator franchise.   Rather than averting the nuclear war prophesised in the first three films, Salvation sees John Connor (Christian Bale) leading the ramshackle post-apocalyptic human resistance against the machines.  He must team up with a teenage Kyle Reese (Anton Yelchin) whom he knows he must send back through time so that he can become his own father (get your brain around that) and newly awakened mystery man Marcus Wright (Sam Worthington)

Directed by McG whose previous credits include uh…Charlie’s Angels (and now lacklustre spy comedy This Means War), it’s a pretty tame affair.  Things certainly go boom, but there’s an innate confusion of the core appeal of the Terminator franchise – that of slowly encroaching doom, coupled with a reasonable fear of human obsolescence.  Instead, we have scenes which look like they could have been cribbed from Transformers knock-off – huge buildings that turn out to be machines and even mechanical eels for chrissakes.

In putting Sam Worthington in the lead and leaving the much higher calibre acting talents of Christian Bale larger in the background, McG has made a mistake.  Worthington just can’t hold a lead role – he’s too bland, too inexpression and far too wooden.  Add to that a tired subplot involving the gorgeous (and fantastically named) Moon Bloodgood and a notable lack of physical presence (this is the first in the series without Arnold Schwarzenegger’s herculean bulk) and you’ve got a recipe for disappointment.  When the best bits of a film are diluted imitations of iconic scenes from a movie that was made 18 year prior (timeless classic Terminator 2: Judgment Day), there’s a real cause for concern. Salvation?  It’s not even redemption.

Perhaps more notable was the incident in which a DOP who happened to get in Christian Bale’s eye-line during a difficult shoot prompting a four-letter word tirade.  At least that was more entertaining.

Dirty Harry (1971) – ITV1, 10.45pm – Saturday, ITV1, 10.30pm

One Clint Eastwood’s most iconic roles, Dirty Harry saw him as a tough, uncompromising San Francisco detective hot on the heels of a notorious serial killer (the story loosely based around the unsolved Zodiac case of the time – something which would be touched upon in David Fincher’s Zodiac in 2007). Though he doesn’t play by the rules, Harry is determined that the killer will face his own particular brand of justice.

It actually caused quite a lot of controversy when it was released.  Some saw it as a glorification of fascist ideology and “a right-wing fantasy”.  Clint defended it by stating that it was merely Harry Calahan’s responsibility to a higher authority.  Either way, it’s effortlessly cool, breathlessly exciting (Andy Robinson’s serial killer is still utterly demented and really terrifying) and endlessly quoted.  If you haven’t seen it, it’s a must-see.  If you have, then it’s worth watching again.

All together now. “I know what you’re thinking punk. You’re thinking did he fire six shots or only five? Well, to tell you the truth, I’ve forgotten myself in all this excitment. But being as this is a 44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world, and would blow your head clean off, you’ve only got to ask yourself a question: ‘Do I feel lucky?’ Well, do ya punk?”

The Man Without A Face (1993) – Sunday, BBC1, 11.50pm

Ah remember the glory days when you could look at Mel Gibson and think “dream boat” as opposed to “drunk, misogynistic, anti-Semitic psycho”? Gibson’s directorial debut sees him trying to cover up his natural good looks by playing a disfigured former teacher who hides on the outskirts of a small town in the 1960s because he’s been shunned by the community.

That is until 12 year old Chuck (Nick Stahl) needs tuition and they strike up and unlikely friendship.  No prizes for guessing what happens next (no, not that, it’s a 12) – scenes of book learning that could be cribbed directly from Dead Poets Society and a moral about not judging books by their covers.  Yawn.

The Parent Trap (1998) – Sunday, Channel 4, 5pm

Another “remember when” scenario.  Remember when Lindsay Lohan was a wholesome teen darling and hadn’t self-destructed under the crushing weight of fame and hard-partying?   Already a showbiz veteran by the time she was 10, The Parent Trap saw a 12-year-old Lohan take dual role as two twin sisters, who, previously unaware of each other’s existence, are determined to get their parents back together.

Lohan is excellent in the lead role (originally played by Hayley Mills) and pulls off an impressive English accent.  You’ll just have to put up with the Hollywood misrepresentation that all English people talk like the queen and have butlers.  I was only saying to Jeeves the other day, that such preposterous misconceptions are quite outmoded.