From classic prison escapes to blockbuster superhero flicks, Foxtel Now has plenty to offer avid movie buffs.
Before we begin this tour of amazing entertainment, here's a small disclaimer: at the time of writing in April 2018 these movies are available on Foxtel Now. That said, the ol' Fox tail is a changeable beast; content can cycle on and off the service with little to no warning at all. We'll do our best to keep this list updated on a monthly basis, but if you spot something that sounds like your deal today, dive into the stream sooner rather than later. And now, without further ado, here's the current cream of the crop.
1. Wonder Woman
Though DC movies are a mixed bag (and rival Marvel Studios has its super-success-serum more or less perfected) don't be afraid to change lanes and take a chance on this. Wonder Woman is one of the most thrilling, earnest and well-directed super-hero movies in ages.
An Amazon princess named Diana (played by charismatic newcomer Gal Gadot) has her world turned upside down when a group of men stumbles upon her women-only island. While meeting people and discovering new cultures can be educational and fun, these tourists are bloodthirsty Boche – yes, time and technology have passed these Amazons by and now the madness of WWI is upon their shores. Worse, this detachment of Germans is out to murder the dreamboat that is Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), a downed allied pilot who'll soon become a key advisor to Diana in her quest to restore world peace. Cue the best super-heroine action out there.
Even if you're not a fan of blockbuster action films, we'd honestly be surprised if Face/Off didn't woo you over. Because what's not to fall in love with here? You get elaborately choreographed, beautifully stylised ballets of over-the-top gun violence, for one thing. There's also the cat-and-mouse conceit of two top-notch actors, John Travolta and Nicolas Cage, being (literally) forced to play one another. This entire film is basically one big public service announcement on the very real dangers of identity theft. The more you know.
On one side of the battle, you have Sean Archer (Travolta), a no-nonsense Fed with a deeply personal grudge against flamboyant sociopath and criminal genius Castor Troy (Cage). When Troy is captured, Archer agrees to a covert, experimental medical procedure that will swap his own facial features for that of his arch-nemesis. Why the extreme makeover? Troy has hidden a time bomb somewhere, and only his incarcerated younger brother knows its location. Slight problem: Troy awakens from his coma and a table-turning begins, not to mention a bunch of slow-mo gunfights where doves inexplicably fly about as the combatants double-fist pistols.
3. Pulp Fiction
Strap yourself in for what is essentially three rollercoaster stories in one. Our first thread follows Vincent Vega (John Travolta), one part of a two-man contract-killer team on a job that goes sideways, thus necessitating the help of a third uber-fixer. At some point in time, his path will cross with Butch Coolidge (Bruce Willis), a prizefighter who hasn't taken the fall as per the instructions of Vincent's boss. Last but not least we have Jules (Samuel L. Jackson), a stone-cold partner to Vincent who has an unlikely religious epiphany.
Quentin Tarantino's post-modern cocktail of black humour, time-twisted storytelling and pop-culture touchstones is an absolute must-see. This is Tarantino at his best, thanks to B-movie sleaze, left-field moments of pure shock, and a razor-tight script that regularly lilts from dirty wisecracks to deep philosophy. Pulp Fiction bent all the rules back in '94 and has lost none of its swaggering cool.
When we do finally meet organisms from another world, it's going to go one of two ways. Either it'll be a friendly, E.T.-like close encounter with home phoning and glowy hearts, or we're in for the nightmare of the Nostromo, a mining vessel led by a distress signal to the worst creature imaginable. Without spoiling the best entrance in movie history, just trust me when I say things go from bad to worse when a parasite attaches itself to one of the crew. In the events that follow, Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) and the rest of the dysfunctional Nostromo team must band together in order to catch and evict the worst hitchhiker in the known universe.
A Ridley Scott classic that still has more than enough bite for modern audiences, Alien seamlessly weaves horror, science fiction and disturbing Freudian designs into an unforgettable experience. This is still a masterclass in tension and will hold you in suspense, like an amorous facehugger, until the final frames.
5. Escape From Alcatraz
Visitors to the real Alcatraz will no doubt recommend it to you as a tourist destination – great audio tour, well worth the money. What's less impressive about the place? A shiver runs down your spine when they lock that cell door on you and the water that surrounds the place is freezing and shark-infested. You'd be nuts to try and bust out of this prison – unless you're a lifer with nothing to lose.
And that's more or less the caper in Escape From Alcatraz, one of the most riveting prison break tales to ever be committed to celluloid. Marked as the fifth and final collaboration between director Don Siegel and Clint Eastwood, this is a very loose retelling of the 1962 escape from the legendary prison located in San Francisco Bay. In retrospect, this is a bit lacking in the character-development department, but on the whole is still tense, gripping stuff.
6. Murder on the Orient Express
Guinness World Records lists Agatha Christie as the best-selling novelist of all time with a whopping 2 billion novels shifted (she comes third in the overall rankings, behind Shakespeare and the Bible). One of her greatest yarns, Murder On The Orient Express, received a successful silver-screen adaptation that boasts stylish direction and a star-studded cast, not to mention Christie's usual webs of intrigue and morbid fascination with murder. (Bonus trivia: This mystery was actually predicated upon a real-life event, the Lindbergh kidnapping.)
The set-up is simple enough. Everybody aboard a steaming locomotive is convinced that a hateful financier named Ratchett (Richard Widmark) was behind the abduction and murder of the infant daughter of a famed aviatrix. When said villain is found dead, pretty much everyone on the train has motive. Enter the brilliant but eccentric Belgian detective Hercule Poirot (Albert Finney) and a cavalcade of rich characters and dodgy suspects.
7. The Great Escape
You can't live your life without having seen this film once, or having heard its theme song (just one listen is all it takes for it to perma-install into your brain). Based on a book by Paul Brickhill, this a true WWII prison break event masterminded by a British officer (Richard Attenborough). The idea is to extricate himself and 200+ fellow Allied prisoners, though that number whittles away to only two dozen. Basically, the whole situation is like a video game adaptation of Hogan's Heroes, with a difficulty setting of “realistic”.
Mind you, most of the film focusses on the broodingly handsome Virgil Hilts (Steve McQueen) an American fugitive desperately trying to thread his way through occupied Nazi territory. This is the thrilling action-adventure that earned McQueen superstar status, and he's flanked with other Hollywood legends like Charles Bronson, Donald Pleasence, James Coburn and James Garner. The Rotten Tomatoes consensus is spot on: With its impeccably slow-building story and a cast for the ages, The Great Escape is an all-time action classic.
8. The Ten Commandments
Based on what many think is the coolest part of the Bible (where God busts heads and gets his creative-wrath on to all and sundry), The Ten Commandments is an extravagant, marathon epic of a thing. Charlton Heston leads a large and competent cast as Moses, a castaway Hebrew child who is found and secretly adopted into the house of the Pharaohs. Raised to be incredibly successful at pyramid schemes, and resented by his half-brother Ramses (Yul Brynner), Moses eventually discovers his heritage and is cast down into slavery with his people.
From there, we go into Exodus territory, which is a whole new bunch of problems and fancy miracles that I won't spoil (Sunday School has probably sorted that for some of you already). All you really need to know is that The Ten Commandments is still a grand biblical tale whose only real rival is Ben-Hur. Providing you have the intestinal fortitude to sit through the nearly four hours runtime of The Ten Commandments, you will be rewarded with solid (if sometimes mechanical) performances and the type of large-scale set-piece scenes that nobody but Cecil B. DeMille has pulled off.
9. The African Queen
Older than the hills – but a DNA parent to more than half-a-century's worth of lesser action-adventure flicks which shamelessly crib from it – this C.S. Forester adaption is Humphrey Bogart at his Oscar-winning best. Even after all this time The African Queen is funny, thrilling and effortlessly engaging.
Bogie plays Charlie Allnut, the gin-smashing captain of the titular tramp steamer that delivers supplies to far-flung villages during the height of WWI. When a provincial reverend dies during Germany's invasion of Africa, Allnut does the gentlemanly thing and offers to escort prim-and-proper missionary Rose Sayer (Katherine Hepburn) back to civilisation. These mismatched personalities are forced to come together in order to keep themselves alive on a rollercoaster ride of treacherous waters and Germans in gunboats. Rotten Tomatoes has this pegged as a well-cast, smartly written film that is indeed the perfect action-adventure flick.
10. The Wizard of Oz
Usually I like to start these mini-reviews with a bit of trivia. Not this time, folks. Fact is, the more you delve into the behind-the-scenes moments centred around the incredibly talented (but more or less studio-owned) Judy Garland, the sadder you'll get. Do yourself a favour and don't get Googling.
Looking beyond that unpleasantness, The Wizard of Oz is an absolutely delightful take on an L. Frank Baum classic which, even after three-quarters of a century, remains a must-see film. It tells the tale of Dorothy, an innocent farm girl deposited via hurricane into a technicolour wonderland. Once there she discovers an understandable love of fancy footwear, starts a death feud with a witch, and befriends a small party of differently-abled travelling companions. What follows is a lovely journey including emerald forests, yellow brick roads, and more sing-a-longs than a road-trip with Clark Griswold. This truly is a timeless classic for the young and the young-at-heart.
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