The Hunger Games, Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa, In the Loop: films on TV today

Jennifer Lawrence embarks on a life-or-death battle royale, Steve Coogan is a hostage to fortune, and The Thick of It team take America by satirical storm: the RadioTimes team’s pick of free-to-air films on TV today




The Hunger Games ★★★★
9.00-11.50pm C4 

The final episode of the dramatisation of Suzanne Collins’s trilogy of dystopian young adult novels, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2, will be released later this year, adding to a franchise that’s already taken $2.3 billion worldwide. Should you wish to belatedly hop aboard, this is the 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.

Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa ★★★★
PREMIERE  9.20-10.45pm BBC2 

A-ha! Steve Coogan’s hapless Norfolk radio DJ keeps it local in his feature-film debut, which sees Partridge become the mediator in a siege by a disgruntled former DJ. You can count the number of British TV comedy characters who’ve successfully transferred to the big screen on one hand (Bean, Borat). This uproarious comedy means we’ll need, er, another hand…

In the Loop ★★★★
11.45pm-1.30am BBC2 

The Thick of It team go to Washington for what must be the best political satire since Dr Strangelove hung up his gloves. However, it’s the F-bomb that’s dropped here, not the A-bomb, as Peter Capaldi’s foul-mouthed Malcolm Tucker fulminates to his heart’s discontent.

North by Northwest ★★★★★
3.05-5.20pm BBC2 

Cary Grant trying to outrun a crop-duster is an iconic image in a fast-paced thriller from Alfred Hitchcock.  The climactic chase across Mount Rushmore isn’t bad either, but then this is one of the very best from the Master of Suspense.

Spider-Man 3 ★★★
6.45-9.20pm C5 

Spidey has his webs full in this CGI-heavy yarn as a new Green Goblin, as well as Sandman and Venom, decide it’s time to squash the arachnid superhero.


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