The Hunger Games, Hot Fuzz, The Mark of Zorro: films on TV today

Jennifer Lawrence is fighting to survive, Simon Pegg is fighting crime, Tyrone Power is battling for justice: the RadioTimes team’s pick of free-to-air films on TV today


The Hunger Games ★★★★
9.00-11.45pm Film Four


The final episode of the dramatisation of Suzanne Collins’s trilogy of dystopian young adult novels, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2, gave fans closure on a series that had already taken $2.3 billion worldwide before it was released. Should you wish to belatedly hop aboard, this is the very first instalment, when Jennifer Lawrence added the string of action heroine to her bow. As Katniss Everdeen, she’s recruited to take part in the titular youth tournament in a totalitarian two-tier society of the future, and must kill or be killed in a televised grudge match. I found the social satire unsubtle – the rich, embodied by Stanley Tucci’s MC, Donald Sutherland’s president and Elizabeth Banks’s chaperone, are irksome pompadoured dandies – and the Games are oddly bloodless, in deference to the cinema’s 12A certificate. But Gary Ross directs with cut and thrust, and the compelling Lawrence is a certified leading woman.

Hot Fuzz ★★★★
9.00-11.25pm ITV2

After making an impact with Shaun of the Dead, Simon Pegg and director Edgar Wright set their sights on new genres to pastiche and combine in the follow-up. Hot Fuzz is a heavenly mix of Hollywood action flick and English murder mystery and sees mismatched policemen Pegg and Nick Frost (one an over-achieving city cop, the other a laisser faire local bobby) trying to solve a string of grisly deaths in a formerly crime-free country idyll. The nerdy references are liberally scattered, the action is suitably overblown and the comedy deliciously dark.

The Mark of Zorro ★★★★
11.15am-1.05pm More4

Fans of modern CGI swordplay may not be hooked, but if you like a bit of old-fashioned swashbuckling, this wonderful adaptation of the dashing romantic legend will make you happy. Tyrone Power is on great form as the masked avenger, his regular leading lady, Linda Darnell, is riding high after the success of Brigham Young, and Basil Rathbone makes a snarling villain. Give it a whirl.

Age of Heroes ★★★
9.00-10.55pm Movies4Men

This tale of wartime derring-do is given a bit of extra zip when you discover that it’s based on the real-life exploits of 007 creator Ian Fleming. James D’Arcy plays Fleming, who sets Sean Bean and Danny Dyer off on a sabotage mission in Norway. The movie also gave roles to former soldiers through the Jobs for Heroes scheme, which gave Dyer an added impetus to perform: “They’re watching us” he explained, “It adds that little bit of pressure. There’s no  time to moan. You don’t want to be a diva on this job – you just get on with it.”

The Revenge of Frankenstein ★★★
9.00-10.50pm Horror Channel

Hammer Studios was bound to follow up on the success of The Curse of Frankenstein, and writer Jimmy Sangster cleverly has the Baron evade execution and escape to a remote village in Germany for this second monster outing. Peter Cushing returns as Frankenstein, now going under the name Dr Stein, and working at a hospital for the poor that allows him access to body parts to build his next creature. It’s uneven in places, and there is a strange comic insert featuring Michael Ripper and Lionel Jeffries, but it stands up well on its own.


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