August sees a bit of a leaner month in terms of Amazon Originals but some decent films and live sport might just catch your eye.
If you want an indication of how dominant streaming services are becoming as part of TV entertainment, you only have to look at how many nominations came streamer’s way at this year’s Emmy nominations to get a feel for their ascendance .
And although Netflix were way ahead of the field with a total of 160 nominations (up from 118 in 2019) Amazon’s The Marvelous Mrs Maisel was the 2nd most nominated show with 20 nods, not far behind HBO's Watchmen which led with a grand total of 26. Also sharing in the nomination glory for various categories was Amazon Prime series Little Fires Everywhere.
Award success not withstanding, August brings a bit of a lull in the high-profile action / drama Amazon Prime original series with the likes of Alex Rider and Hanna having taken pride of place in the preceding months and nothing much to take their place as summer draws to close.
What we’re left with then is a fairly lean set of shows which includes DC’s Stargirl, Bear Grylls overseeing The World’s Toughest Race, plus movies such as Gravity and War Horse and the return of some live tennis in the shape of WTA and ATP warm up tournaments in the run up to next month’s US Open.
Let’s have a closer look, bearing in mind the ever present proviso that although we’ve tried to be as UK specific as possible, start dates can change, content can sometimes be territory specific and shows can even get yanked by the service itself.
Update 4th August:
The Handmaid’s Tale (S1-3)
Dystopian sci-fi series following a Second American Civil War in which fertility rates have dropped which has led to the enslavement of women able to bear children.
Stars Elisabeth Moss and Joseph Fiennes.
Tennis: Palermo (WTA)
The 31st Palermo Ladies Open had hoped to host the World No.2 Simone Halep and Britain’s No.1 Johanna Konta, however, Halep has now pulled out citing travel concerns over Covid-19 and Konta has followed suit stating she wants to concentrate on hard court preparations for next month’s US Open in New York - Palermo is a clay court competition and runs until 10th August.
Expect to see last minute changes to line-ups as live sport is still very much beholden to the slings and arrows of the pandemic.
The Real Housewives of Potomac (S5) Showing on hayu Prime Video Channel addon.
Weekly episodes throw the viewer back into the personal and professional lives of Gizelle, Ashley, Robyn, Karen, Monique, Candiace and Wendy, each in various stages of life and affluence… it says here.
Ramy (S2) Showing on StarzPlay Prime Video Channel - paid addon.
Back in New Jersey after his trip to Egypt, 1st generation Ramy, son of Egyptian migrants, continues his spiritual journey, divided between his Muslim community and his friends, who see endless possibilities. A meeting with a Sheikh from a local Sufi Center who becomes his spiritual mentor gives him renewed direction with its own obstacles.
The Golden Globe Award-winning actor Ramy Youssef returns to write and star in this semi autobiographical vehicle which is joined by Oscar winner Mahershala Ali.
Jessy and Nessy: (Amazon Original Series, S1, Part 2)
This kids series follows Jessy, a youngster full of curiosity, who, with the help of her special ‘Inspectacles’ sees a whole new world full of adventure where, along with her best friend Nessy, a five and a half thousand year old sea monster, she finds the answers she’s looking for to questions like, ‘How do planes stay in the sky’ and ‘How do you get hiccups?’
… and if you don’t know, perhaps it’s worth a watch (with the kids obviously!).
Update 4th August:
Michael McIntyre Live and Laughing (2008)
Acclaimed comedian Michael McIntyre performs material on stage at the Hammersmith Apollo. Including skits on ‘Traffic’s a nightmare!’, ‘The Man Drawer’, ‘Disabled Parking Spaces’ and ‘Baby Names’.
Update 4th August:
Sarah Millican Outsider Live (2016)
Join Sarah Millican, one of the UK's most successful and multi-award-winning comedians as she delights her fans in her fourth stand-up show, Outsider and asks questions like, ‘Why?’, ‘Where is the taxi?’, ‘Do I need a cardie?’, ‘Is that poo?’, ‘Can we go home?
Update 4th August:
Dara O’Briain Crowd Tickler (2012)
Stand-up comedian Dara O Briain at full speed in Edinburgh.
World’s Toughest Race: Eco-Challenge Fiji (Amazon Original Docuseries, S1)
Veteran adventurer Bear Grylls hosts an 11 day competition that sees 66 teams from 30 different countries descend on the beautiful paradise that is Fiji to compete in the most epic adventure race, across 671km of jungles, mountains and water, ever attempted.
From the maker of US reality shows such as Survivor and The Apprentice, this 10 episode series was resurrected from what many regard as the genesis of modern day ‘‘reality’ TV, Eco-Challenge. That too saw teams racing non-stop, over a rugged 300-mile (500 km) course, participating in such disciplines as trekking, whitewater canoeing, horseback riding, scuba diving, mountaineering, and mountain biking, during its 1995 - 2002 run.
Here, competitors will be pushed to their physical and emotional limits. For some the goal is to win, while others would be happy just to finish.
DC’s Stargirl (S1)
Ten years after nearly all of the Justice Society of America (JSA) were killed in a battle against the Injustice Society of America (ISA), high school sophomore Courtney Whitmore discovers the Cosmic Staff of Starman and, upon learning that her stepfather used to be Starman's sidekick, becomes the inspiration for a whole new generation of superheroes.
This DC superhero series had associated characters that were originally introduced in the Arrowverse crossover Crisis on Infinite Earths, establishing Stargirl as existing on a parallel Earth to the Arrowverse series. The cast includes a few well known faces including Luke (The Royal Tenenbaums) Wilson, Joel (Community) McHale and Henry (The Haunting of Hill House/E.T.) Thomas.
Originally airing on The CW Network a day after its ‘webisodes’ were streamed, a second season has just been commissioned which will air as a CW original series.
Tennis: Western & Southern Open (WTA)
Previously known as the Cincinnati Masters, this is one of the US’s longest running tennis tournaments and is one of the five Premier events on the WTA tour, worth 900 ranking points and $2 million to the eventual winner. Currently, the women’s line up remains strong and includes Karolina Pliskova, Kiki Bertens, Serena Williams, Petra Kvitova, Madison Keys and Johanna Konta. Notable by her absence is World No.1 Ashleigh Barty who has pulled out of this and the US Open citing Covid-19 concerns.
Tennis: Western & Southern Open (ATP)
The men’s side of the former Cincinnati Masters starts a day after the women’s and so far the entry lists contain all the names you’d expect to see at a major tournament in the run up to the US Open, including Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Dominic Thiem and last year’s winner Daniil Medvedev. Though neither Roger Federer or Andy Murray are listed, Murray has stated he intends to play. The Western Southern Open tournament runs to the 28th Aug.
This year sees the venue move to the Billie Jean King National Tennis Centre in New York to maintain a bubble for the US Open which starts only a few later on 31st August.
Update 4th August:
Amazon Funnies Line Up
Stand up special with a variety of new comedians giving it a crack for 10 minutes
Prime Rewind: Inside ‘The Boys’ (Amazon Original Documentary)
The Boys was a big hit for Amazon when it aired last year and anticipation is high for the return of Billy Butcher and his team on 4th September for season 2.
Prime Rewind takes a look back at the first season and interviews the cast and creative team acting as a recap and heralding the new episodes.
Update 4th August:
The trailer for The Boys season 2 is below and is, of course, bloody and sweary.
Beautiful Creatures (2013, Drama, Fantasy, Romance. Alice Englert, Alden Ehrenreich, Viola Davis, Jeremy Irons)
Ethan Wate (Alden Ehrenreich) longs to escape his small southern town. He meets a mysterious new girl, Lena Duchannes (Alice Englert). Together, they uncover dark secrets about their respective families, their history, and their town.
Based on the fantasy young adult novel by authors Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl and the first book in the Caster Chronicles, the film was ultimately judged a financial flop. And received lukewarm reviews over its melodramatic, YA, Twilight-style musings.
The Switch (2010, Comedy, Romance. Jennifer Aniston, Jason Bateman, Patrick Wilson, Jeff Goldblum)
Kassie (Jennifer Aniston) is single but decides it’s time to have a baby, even if it means doing it with a little help from a sperm donor. Seven years later, her best friend Wally (Jason Bateman) begins to suspect that a switch may have occurred when he meets her charming, but slightly neurotic son, Sebastian.
Thankfully re-titled from The Baster, after the short story it was inspired by, The Switch sees Bateman bring his usual easy going charm while Ansiston was nominated for a Razzie for her efforts.
Update 4th August:
Happy Gilmore (1996, Comedy, Sport, Adam Sandler, Christopher McDonald, Judie Bowen)
A rejected hockey player puts his new found skills on the golf course to use to save his grandmother's house.
Land of the Lost (2009, Action, Comedy, Adventure. Will Ferrell, Danny McBride, Anna Friel)
Dr. Rick Marshall is a disgraced paleontologist who has invented a Tachyon Mcguffin to support his crackpot theories. On his latest test run, Rick is sucked into a space-time vortex alongside his research assistant and a redneck survivalist. In this alternate universe, the trio make friends with a primate named Chaka, their only ally in a world full of dinosaurs and other fantastic creatures.
Loosely based on the seventies US TV series of the same name, the tone was one of gentle parody in the vein of Todd Philiips’s reboot of Starsky & Hutch a few years before.
Land of the Lost had the misfortune to open against The Hangover and underperformed at the Box Office as a result. It led the field at the 30th Golden Raspberry Awards with 7 nominations.
Is there a pattern emerging from Amazon’s movie choices this month?
Official Secrets (2019, True-life, Crime, Drama. Keira Knightley, Matt Smith, Matthew Goode, Ralph Fiennes, Dir. Gavin Hood)
The true story of GCHQ employee Katharine Gun who turned whistleblower and leaked a memo exposing an illegal spying operation by the United States of America, looking for information with which to potentially blackmail United Nations diplomats tasked to vote on a second resolution regarding the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
A completed script had been sitting on the Black List since 2008 and at one point had Harrison Ford, Anthony Hopkins, Paul Bettany, Natalie Dormer, Martin Freeman, Tahar Rahim and Gillian Anderson all cast and ready for a 2016 start. No doubt, having watched the final film, it will be fun playing guess who was originally cast as which character in version one.
The Wedding Singer (1998, Comedy, Music, Romance. Adam Sandler, Drew Barrymore)
Robbie, a singer, is preparing for his nuptials when he meets waitress Julia and agrees to sing at her own upcoming wedding. It’s clear they are both engaged to the wrong people but will fate lend a guiding hand?
The movie’s popularity and reliance on well known 80s pop songs led to a successful but short lived 2006 Broadway musical version.
Update 4th August:
The Machinist (2004, Drama, Thriller. Christian Bale, Jennifer Jason Leigh)
An industrial worker who hasn't slept in a year starts living a nightmare when cryptic notes appear and he starts having visions of a co-worker no one else can see. Are these mysteries part of a plot to drive him mad? Or, has fatigue simply robbed him of reason?
Christian Bale pushes his body to the absolute limit to portray the character. Unbelievably, his following movie was Batman Begins six months later.
The Meg (2018, Action, Thriller, Sci-fi. Jason Statham, Bingbing Li, Rainn Wilson, Dir. Jon Turteltaub)
A group of scientists exploring the Marianas Trench encounter the largest marine predator that has ever existed - the Megalodon. But don’t worry, deep sea diving expert Jonas ‘Sharkpuncher’ Taylor is on hand to rescue the stricken boffins and dispense appropropriate marine based justice.
The Stathe returns to his pre-acting aquatic habitat and it’s a great match as The Meg scored Statham his biggest box office opening - you could say, it made quite the splash. So much so, in fact, that sequel murmurings just won't go away.
You’ve Got Mail (1998, Comedy, Drama, Romance. Tom Hanks, Meg Ryan, Greg Kinnear, Dir. Nora Ephron)
Two people who own competing bookstores - Kathleen and Joe - dislike each other intensely. However, they become anonymous correspondents via e-mail and fall in love through their written exchanges. They remain unaware that the person with whom they're smitten is the same person they snub daily in the business world.
Books? Emails? Nothing dates a movie like the technology it bases its premise on, so as far as the young’uns are concerned this could just as easily be called ‘You’ve Got Carrier Pigeon’. Still, the basic premise is sound and You’ve Got Mail was based on a 1937 Hungarian play which was later adapted as the James Stewart and Margaret Sullavan The Shop Around The Corner in 1940. And casting Tom Hanks in the Jimmy Stewart role was so spot on, you could say they ‘mailed it’.
Update 4th August:
Blues Brothers 2000 (1998, Comedy, Music, Action. Dan Ackroyd, John Goodman, Dir. John Landis)
Elwood must reunite the old band, with a few new members, and go on another "Mission from God." Sequel to the 1980 original starring John Belushi.
The Last Samurai (2003, Historical, Action, Drama. Tom Cruise, Ken Watanabe, Hiroyuki Sanada, Billy Connolly, Dir. Edward Zwick)
In 1870s Japan, disillusioned Capt. Nathan Algren is tasked by the Emperor to train the country's first army in the art of modern warfare as part of a plan to extinguish the ancient Imperial Samurai warriors in preparation for more Westernized government policies. However, when the battle goes badly wrong and Algren is captured, he finds himself becoming enamoured with the Samurai culture, the way of life and the people.
The film's plot was inspired by the 1877 Satsuma Rebellion and westernization of Japan by foreign powers and the immiscible nature of the two cultures is vividly presented. There’s an element of the Dances With Wolves white saviour narrative that might get noticed by more modern audiences but it’s all too easy to get picked up in the romantic sweep and grandeur and all-round winning performances. It’s one of Cruise’s best movies.
No Strings Attached (2011, Comedy, Romance. Natalie Portman, Ashton Kutcher, Kevin Kline, Dir. Ivan Reitman)
Lifelong friends Emma (Natalie Portman) and Adam (Ashton Kutcher) take their relationship to the next level by having sex. Afraid of ruining their friendship, the new lovers make a pact to keep things purely physical, with no fighting, no jealousy and no expectations. Emma and Adam pledge to do whatever they want, wherever they want, as long as they do not fall in love. How hard can it be?
2011 saw the similarly themed Friends With Benefits released and indeed when the screenplay was presented to director Ivan Reitman, it was called exactly that and had to switch to the more anodyne No Strings Attached to avoid confusion with the other project. Hollywood, what are you like, eh?
Update 4th August:
Corpse Bride (2005, Animation, Adventure, Fantasy. Voices: Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Emily Watson, Dir. Tim Burton, Mike Johnson)
When a shy groom practices his wedding vows in the inadvertent presence of a deceased young woman, she rises from the grave assuming they are now married and whisks him away to the Land of the Dead, away from his real betrothed and her odd family.
Gone in 60 Seconds (2000, Action, Crime, Thriller. Nicolas Cage, Angelina Jolie, Robert Duvall, Christopher Ecclestone)
Randall Raines, a retired master car thief must come back to the car boosting industry and steal fifty cars with his crew in a single night to save his kid brother's life from the wrath of an evil mobster. Unfortunately, the cops are already on to them.
Loosely based on a 1974 car heist movie of the same name and premise, Gone in 60 Seconds was the recipient of a number of awards at the 2000 Stinkers Bad Movie Awards, including ‘Worst Screenplay for a Film That Grossed over $100 Million Using Hollywood Math’ and ‘Most Intrusive Musical Score’. Angelina Jolie received a nomination for Worst On-Screen Hairstyle but lost to John Travolta and Forest Whitaker for Battlefield Earth.
Chemical Hearts (2020, Amazon Original Movie. Drama, Romance. Lili Reinhart, Austin Abrams, Sarah Jones)
Henry Page is a seventeen year old student who considers himself a hopeless romantic but has yet to fall in love. Then, on the first day of senior year, he meets transfer student Grace Town who harbours a mysterious past. They are chosen to co-edit the school paper together and Henry is immediately drawn to the alluring newcomer. As her heartbreaking secret is revealed he finds himself falling in love with her —or at least the person he thinks she is.
Gravity (2013, Drama, Thriller, Sci-fi. Sandra Bullock, George Clooney, Dir. Alfonso Cuarón)
Two astronauts work together to survive after an accident leaves them stranded in space.
It’s a simple enough survival premise but the skill of director Cuarón in placing the audience right in the midst of the action in what is essentially as two hander, means you feel as breathless as Dr Ryan Stone does as she faces a dwindling oxygen supply at the outer edges of Earth’s fragile atmosphere.
Gravity was produced and filmed entirely in the United Kingdom using new techniques that Cuarón developed himself and British visual effects company Framestore spent more than three years creating most of the film's visual effects, which make up over 80 of its 91 minutes.
The film received 10 nominations at the 86th Academy Awards and won 7 of them. It also won 6 BAFTAs.
War Horse (2011, Action, Drama, War. Jeremy Irvine, Peter Mullan, Emily Watson, David Thewliss, Dir, Steven Spielberg)
Beginning in rural England with a remarkable friendship between a horse named Joey and a young man called Albert, who tames and trains him, the film follows Joey's extraordinary journey when they are forcefully parted by the events of WWI. As the horse moves through the war, changing and inspiring the lives of all those he meets - British cavalry, German soldiers, and a French farmer and his granddaughter - the story reaches its emotional climax in the heart of No Man's Land.
The original book was written by acclaimed children’s author Michael Morpurgo and published in 1982 and is beloved of many now grown up readers. Interestingly, Morpurgo attempted to adapt his story for the big screen quite early on but found he was restricted by the horses’s point of view which was used exclusively in the book. It took the stage adaptation and a screenplay by Richard Curtis and Lee Hall to open up the narrative sufficiently for Spielberg’s film.
13 Going on 30 (2004, Comedy, Fantasy, Romance. Jennifer Garner, Mark Ruffalo, Judy Greer)
Jenna Rink is a 13-year-old girl who dreams of being popular. During her birthday party, she is humiliated by her classmates and wishes that she was 30 years old. When she awakes, she finds herself suddenly that age and in 2004, uncertain of how she got there. Now she has to learn the ropes of adult living… and loving.
Gwyneth Paltrow, Hilary Swank, and Renée Zellweger were all considered for the lead role but it eventually went to Jennifer Garner who shot the movie during breaks in her Alias schedule.
Underworld Movie Series (2003 - 2016, Action, Fantasy, Thriller. Kate Beckinsale, Scott Speedman, Theo James, Rhona Mitchell, Michael Sheen, Dirs. Len Wiseman, Måns Mårlind, Patrick Tatopoulos, Anna Foerster)
Underworld: Evolution (2006)
Underworld: Rise of the Lycans (2009)
Underworld: Awakening (2012)
Underworld: Blood Wars (2016)
“Pitch me an idea, son.”
“ Errrr…. vampires versus werewolves?”
“Here’s some money.”
Starting in Underworld, vampire warrior Selene is entrenched in a conflict between her kind and werewolves. She falls in love with Michael, a human who is sought by werewolves for unknown reasons. And so began a 13 year, 5 movie and 1 animated series franchise.
Beckinsale has confirmed she won’t be involved in any more films and according to Len Wiseman an Underworld TV show is in development. Prior to this, crossovers with both the Resident Evil and Blade franchises had been considered.
Valerian And The City Of A Thousand Planets (2017, Action, Adventure, Sci-fi. Dane DeHann, Cara Delevigne, Clive Owen, Ethan Hawke, Rutger Hauer, Dir. Luc Besson)
A dark force threatens Alpha, a vast metropolis and home to species from a thousand planets. Special operatives Valerian and Laureline must race to identify the marauding menace and safeguard not just Alpha, but the future of the universe.
Based on the French science fiction comics series Valérian and Laureline the movie adaptation is both the most expensive European and independent film ever made. Besson independently crowd-sourced and personally funded the production budget of around $180 million which saw a global Box Office return of $225 million.
What A Girl Wants (2003, Comedy, Drama, Family. Amanda Byrnes, Colin Firth, Kelly Preston)
Daphne is a spirited young American girl who learns that her father is a wealthy British politician running for office. She travels to London in search of him, fully aware that it could cause a scandal and cost him the election. As Daphne attempts to prove that love can conquer all, her impulsive behaviour creates an uproar in high society, where her unique style threatens to undermine the relationship she has waited her whole life to experience.
This is the second adaptation of the play The Reluctant Debutante, the 1958 version starred John Saxon and this more recent remake features Kelly Preston, both of whom died in the last few weeks. While this is meaningless randomness, the slender link does lend an air of moderate sadness to this sentence.
Update 4th August:
Get Duked! (2020, Amazon Original Movie, Comedy, Horror. Eddie Izzard, James Cosmo, Alice Lowe)
Deep in the Scottish Highlands, while attempting to turn their lives around and complete The Duke of Edinburgh Award, four city boys try to escape a mysterious huntsman while the police trail behind, failing to provide assistance.
Magic Mike XXL (2015, Comedy, Drama, Music. Channing Tatum, Joe Manianello, Matt Bomer)
Three years after Mike (Channing Tatum) bowed out of the stripper life at the top of his game, he and the remaining Kings of Tampa decide to hit the road to Myrtle Beach to put on one last blow-out performance.
Channing does love to bust a move and this sequel to the hit first movie promoted Magic Mike first assistant director Gregory Jacobs to director and saw Steven Soderbergh take on cinematographer and editor duties.
How To Be Single (2016, Comedy, Drama, Romance. Dakota Johnson, Rebel Wilson, Leslie Mannm Damon Wayans Jr.)
New York City is full of lonely hearts seeking the right match, be it a love connection, a hook-up, or something in the middle and Alice, Robin, Lucy, Meg, Tom and David all need to learn how to navigate relationships in this world filled as it is with ever-evolving definitions of love.
The Notebook (2004, Drama, Romance. Ryan Gosling, Rachel McAdams, Gena Rowlands, James Garner, Dir. Nick Cassavetes)
It’s 1940 and Noah, a poor yet passionate young man falls in love with a rich young Allie, giving her a sense of freedom. Their epic love story is narrated from the present day by an elderly man recanting the tale from a notebook to a fellow nursing home resident.
A sleeper hit with somewhat of a cult following, The Notebook is the 15th highest-grossing romantic drama film of all time.
Director Nick Cassavetes wanted someone unknown and "not handsome" to portray Noah and so cast Ryan Gosling (is he blind!?) and then searched for an actress to play the pivotal role of Ellie. It was only after auditioning and rejecting the likes of Jessica Biel, Britney Spears, Ashley Judd, and Reese Witherspoon that Rachel McAdams demonstrated the kind of chemistry with Gosling that the filmmakers were after and was therefore cast.
In February 2019, subscribers to the UK version of Netflix reported that the version of the film on the streaming service had an alternate ending, which substituted a more light hearted conclusion for the emotional end of the original release. Netflix responded that this alternate version of the film had been supplied to them in error, and soon replaced it with the original version.
Amazon Prime Video UK - you have been warned!
So that wraps up August of Amazon Prime Video UK, As new content is added, we’ll update the listing so be sure to check back so you don’t miss out. In the meantime, why not leave a comment and let us know what you’re looking forward too, what you’ve enjoyed and maybe what was disappointing.