Amazon Prime Video UK lines up its selection of summer fare for those still happy to ‘holiday from home’ with Hanna season two getting things started with a bang!
After last month launching Alex Rider as a youngster with a set of skills not usually found amongst your typical teenagers, Amazon Prime Video is doing it again. This time it’s Amazon Original's Hanna, who returns for season 2. We’ll have to watch out for these feisty young’uns!
The first season of Hanna, based on the Saoirse Ronan starring movie from 2011, was one of Amazon Prime’s biggest home grown hits last year, so there’ll be plenty of interest to see if the positive momentum for the series and character continues.
Meanwhile, there’s been a recent smattering of live sport gracing our screens courtesy of Schroders Battle of the Brits tennis tournament which was organised by Jamie Murray and broadcast from the National Tennis Centre at Roehampton. There could be more tennis on the way next month with Amazon’s now established coverage of the ATP tour in place - we’ll report on that next time.
However, WTA tennis is covered in Unraveling Athena on Amazon Prime this month - a look at some of the sport’s most successful ever women players.
There is some live sport in the shape of two Premier League matches being shown free for all. Obviously most sports fans will have committed to an appropriate package with Sky or BT but for the casual armchair footie fan it’s a chance to see some live action, albeit without the atmosphere of a crowd.
Film-wise, How to Build a Girl adapts journalist and writer Caitlin Moran’s novel to present a humorous coming of age story built around an alternate manufactured persona. There’s also Rosamund Pike’s impressive performance as trailblazer Marie Curie in Radioactive to watch out for.
As always, the listing is designed to highlight new content for the UK service with every effort to ensure accuracy, however, content and scheduling is subject to change. Confirmed UK shows include Hanna and Unraveling Athena while the movies cover both UK and other territories.
Pick of the Shows
Hanna (2020 Amazon Original Series, S2, Available in 4K and HDR)
After season one’s climactic finale, Hanna finds herself amongst her similarly skilled ‘sisters’ at the facility called The Meadows. These highly trained teenagers are about to reach the lethal ‘second phase’ but also find their restrictions lifted and are gifted a glimpse at the possibility of a new identity in the outside world. But what price freedom?
Equal parts high-concept thriller and coming-of-age drama, season one largely followed the narrative laid down in Joe Wright’s enjoyable movie - not surprising as writer David Farr was involved in both projects - and saw Esmé Creed-Miles as the 15-year-old Hanna, who was raised in total seclusion by her survivalist father, Erik Heller (Joel Kinnaman), in the remote woods of Eastern Europe. Even as Hanna developed her prowess, an off-book CIA agent was trying to unearth the truth behind the father-daughter pair and the training Erik imparted was key to Hanna’s survival when they were separated.
The second season of Hanna returns with eight, one-hour episodes, and follows the journey of this extraordinary young woman as she continues to learn the truth behind who she is.
Mad Men (S1-7)
It may have left its spiritual streaming home over at Netflix but Amazon Prime Video has picked up all seven seasons of the Emmy Award winning period drama that launched the careers of Jon Hamm, John Slattery, Elisabeth Moss, Christina Hendricks and January Jones. It starts on the UK service on 3rd July ahead of its launch in the US on 15th July.
Premier League - Everton vs Southampton
Premier League - Watford vs Newcastle
Unraveling Athena (2019, Sport, Documentary)
Directed by Francis Amat, this documentary follows the rise of the world’s number one women's tennis players, including veterans Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova and Billie Jean King as well as a newer generation of players such as Victoria Azarenka and Caroline Wozniaki. It gives an in-depth look into their experiences, trials and tribulations and remarkable achievements as their relentless training and sacrifice takes them from small child with a large racket, to ranked player, and ultimately to WTA number one in the world, and beyond.
The film explores the ingredients, the common themes and qualities, that account for the remarkable achievements of these women, from different generations, nationalities and with different personalities.
Absentia (2020, Amazon Original Series, S3)
With Emily Byrne’s suspension from the FBI nearing its end, a criminal case hits close to home, sending her on a dangerous journey that threatens the lives of the family she is desperately trying to hold together. What follows is a dangerous journey that will take Emily far from Boston, testing her like never before, forcing her to finally realize her true place in the world after everything she's been through.
Stana Katic (Castle) returns as Emily Byrne, an FBI agent who vanished without trace whilst chasing one of Boston's most notorious serial killers and is declared deceased in absentia. Six years later she was discovered in a cabin in the woods, barely alive and with no memory of the years that she was missing. Finally, after returning home to discover her family had moved on without her, she pulled together a new reality in order to move forward, before being implicated in a new string of murders.
All 10 episodes will be available on Amazon Prime Video in the US, UK, Germany, Australia, Austria, India, Israel, Italy, Netherlands, Singapore, South Korea and other select territories globally.
Jim Gaffigan: The Pale Tourist (Amazon Original Special, available in 4K)
This two-part stand-up special features the Grammy-nominated, Emmy Award-winning and New York Times best-selling author, actor and comedian as he uses his Pale Tourist tour to push the envelope of writing and performing by landing in a country, experiencing the culture and food, and then writing and performing all-new material, all in one visit. This two part special shows Jim bringing his relatable brand of comedy to Spain and Canada.
Amazon Prime Video is starting to push forward, Netflix-style, with its comedy specials and Jim Gaffigan joins a growing number of Amazon original comedy specials to look out for from Chris Ramsey, Ed Gamble, Flo & Joan, Jayde Adams, Paul Chowdhry and Rob Delany.
Pick of the Movies
My Spy (2020, Amazon Original Film, Action Comedy, Family, Dave Bautista, Chloe Coleman, available in 4K)
The increasingly comedically adept Dave Bautista stars as J.J., a hardened but disgraced CIA operative, who is sent on a bottom-of-the-rung undercover mission to surveil the family of 9 year old Sophie. When Sophie discovers hidden cameras in her apartment she uses her tech savviness to locate where the surveillance operation is set and convinces J.J. to spend time with her and teach her to be a spy in exchange for not blowing his cover.
Soon, J.J. is regretting the arrangement as he learns that he is no match for Sophie’s disarming charm and quick wit.
My Spy had been a premium rental for a couple of months having come to Amazon in the wake of cinema closures around the world. At the end of June, it quietly slipped onto the free Prime Video service, hence its inclusion here.
Big Fish (2003, Adventure, Fantasy, Drama, Ewan McGregor, Albert Finney, Billy Crudup, Dir. Tim Burton)
Will Bloom discovers his estranged father, Edward, is suffering from cancer and close to death, so he returns home to build bridges and say goodbye. As Edward lies on his deathbed, he starts to regale his bizarre experiences as a former travelling salesman to Will. Edward has a gift for spinning a yarn and Will is by turns fascinated and infuriated when he can no longer tell fact from fiction in his father’s increasingly outlandish tales. Will the stories help the pair find common ground in their final hours together?
As well as dark and devious, Tim Burton can turn his hand to whimsy too and it’s on full display here in this ‘tall tales’ yarn centred around reconciliation, a topic close to director Tim Burton who had lost his father a few years prior. This one comes with a full-on ‘dust in my eye‘ blart warning for emotionally stunted men (i.e most of us).
Buried (2010, Drama, Thriller, Ryan Reynolds, Dir. Rodrigo Cortés)
Paul is an American civilian truck driver working in Iraq. After an attack by a group of Iraqis he wakes to find he is buried alive inside a coffin. With only a handful of items such as a lighter, pencil and mobile phone it's a race against time to escape this claustrophobic death trap.
Ryan Reynolds takes a break from his quippy, easy charm and pulls out a strong performance in this often agonising experience - who doesn’t quail at the very thought of this scenario. The film takes place entirely inside the coffin and was cleverly facilitated by using several specially designed coffin sets to allow camera access. A gruelling 16 day shoot ended with Reynolds calling the last day of filming "unlike anything I experienced in my life, and I never ever want to experience that again."
A difficult watch and one which gets you a ‘films you ought to see once but are then exempt from ever watching again’ badge (see Schindler’s List).
Edge Of Darkness (2010, Crime, Drama, Mystery, Mel Gibson, Dir. Martin Campbell)
The celebrated BBC political thriller from the mid eighties is the basis for this US-centric retelling which transplants the murky world of government and corporate cover-ups and nuclear espionage to Boston USA, and follows a homicide detective investigating the murder of his activist daughter.
This was Mel Gibson’s first big screen lead role since 2002’s Signs, following his acting hiatus after his controversial alcohol fuelled melt down in 2006.
Hollow Man (2000, Horror, Sci-fi, Action, Kevin Bacon, Elisabeth Shue, Josh Brolin, Dir. Paul Verhoeven)
The leader of a team of scientists volunteers to be the test subject for their experiment in human invisibility. When his fellow scientists are unable to restore him back to normal, he slowly unravels and turns against them, with horrific consequences.
Paul Verhoeven dishes up an effective sci-fi shocker with ground breaking visual effects for the time. Unfortunately, after the effective first two acts, the story resorts to typical serial killer/monster bumping off cannon fodder cast members fare.
An interesting counterpoint to this year’s The Invisible Man remake by Leigh Whannell, this time the initial perspective sits with Kevin Bacon’s wayward scientist as he succumbs to the effects of his tampering with nature and moves from protagonist to antagonist, thus allowing Elisabeth Shue to come forward as the main focus.
It’s telling though that two films made twenty years apart about men who cannot be seen, and can therefore get away with muder, still rely on the main plot being driven by them terrorising women they have been in relationships with.
Rambo: Last Blood (2019, Action, Thriller. Sylvester Stallone,. Paz Vega)
John Rambo must confront his past and unearth his ruthless combat skills to exact revenge in a final mission as he travels to Mexico to save his adopted daughter, who has been kidnapped by a cartel and forced into prostitution.
Over the last four decades, there have been highs and lows in the Rambo franchise - here’s your chance to determine where - political aspirations to one side - Rambo: Last Blood sits in the pantheon of Stallone’s action flicks
Midway (2019, War, Drama, Action. Ed Skrein, Patrick Wilson, Woody Harrelson, Luke Evans, Dir. Roland Emmerich)
A passion project for director Roland Emmerich who gets a chance to revel in big screen destruction once again, Midway centres on the clash between the American fleet and the Imperial Japanese Navy which marked a pivotal turning point in the Pacific Theatre during WWII. The film, based on the real-life events of this heroic feat, tells the story of the leaders and soldiers who used their instincts, fortitude and bravery to overcome the odds.
Blade: Trinity (2004, Action, Adventure, Fantasy. Wesley Snipes, Ryan Reynolds, Jessica Biel. David S.Goyer)
Blade, now a wanted man by the FBI, must join forces with the Nightstalkers to face his most challenging enemy yet: Dracula.
Rightly dismissed as the worst of the Blade trio with a muddled plot, vapid villain and disinterested Wesley Snipes, this is worth watching for a bearded Ryan Reynolds starting to sow the seeds of his action credentials which would serve him so well as Wade Wilson. Cool and quippy, his exchange with Parker Posey’s Danica Talos whilst being interrogated contains cinema’s greatest ever insult, which simply cannot be replicated here but involves an interesting take on circus-based activities.
How to Build a Girl (2019, Amazon Original Film, Comedy, Beanie Feldstein, Paddy Considine, Dir. Coky Giedroyc)
It’s 1990 and Johanna Morrigan is sixteen, smart, opinionated and overweight. Hormones raging, she is desperate to get out of her hometown and make a name for herself as a writer, She moves from Wolverhampton to London and reinvents herself as Dolly Wilde, bad-ass music critic. Gaining notoriety as a journalistic enfant terrible, she has finally figured out how to build a girl but has to decide if this is really the girl she wanted to create, as she starts to fall for one of the musicians she’s writing about.
Beanie Feldstein, so memorable in Booksmart, stars in a cast of well known Brit and Irish faces including Paddy Considine, Michael Sheen, Mel Giedroyc, Sue Perkins, Lily Allen, Gemma Arterton, Jameela Jamil, Sharon Horgan, Chris O’Dowd, Joanna Scanlan, Alfie Allen and Emma Thompson.
Radioactive (2019, Amazon Original Film, True life, Drama, Period, Rosamund Pike, Sam Riley, Available in 4K and HDR)
In late 19th century Paris, Marie Sklodowska meets fellow scientist Pierre Curie and their scientific and romantic passions lead to marriage, two daughters and the Nobel Prize in physics for their discovery of radioactivity.
Radioactive sees Rosamund Pike brings Marie Curie’s enduring legacies – her passionate relationships and scientific breakthroughs - to life in this biopic that depicts the transformative effects and ensuing fallout of the Curie’s work and how this shaped the defining moments of the 20th Century.
Marie Curie’s achievements were stunning and were justifiably commended with awards. She was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, the first person to win two Nobel Prizes, the only woman to win in two fields, and the only person to win in multiple sciences.
Knives Out (2019, Comedy, Crime, Mystery. Daniel Craig, Chris Evans, Jamie Lee Curtis, Toni Collette, Dir. Rian Johnson). Available in 4K.
When renowned crime novelist Harlan Thrombey is found dead at his estate just after his 85th birthday, the inquisitive and debonair Detective Benoit Blanc is mysteriously enlisted to investigate. From Harlan’s dysfunctional family to his devoted staff, Blanc sifts through a web of red herrings and self-serving lies to uncover the truth behind Harlan’s untimely death.
Inspired by, and a throwback to, murder mysteries such as Sleuth and the various Agatha Christie adaptations of the 1970s, Knives Out was a huge success and a Benoit Blanc sequel is unsurprisingly in development.
The Rest of the Shows
If You Give A Mouse A Cookie (2015-19, Animated kids show)
New episodes give younger viewers a chance to catch up with more adventures following Mouse, Oliver and other characters as they discover that when you've got a curious Mouse for a friend (not to mention a Moose, a Pig, a Cat and a Dog) one thing always leads to another.
The Rest of the Movies
An Eye For An Eye (2017, Documentary)
In the aftermath of 9/11, Mark Stroman went on a shooting spree to kill anyone who looked arab to him. He was caught, convicted and put on death row but in a twist of fate, his only surviving victim became his biggest advocate in a true story of hate, revenge and redemption.
Cold War (2013, Action, Crime, Thriller, International: Hong Kong)
The Hong Kong police department has long been untouchable, until tonight when hijackers kidnap 5 highly trained officers and cryptic messages from the gang expose a mole within the task force.
Hitch (2005, Comedy, Romance, Will Smith, Eva Mendes)
While helping his latest client woo the woman of his dreams, a professional "date doctor" finds that his game doesn't quite work on the gossip columnist with whom he's smitten.
Midnight In Paris (2011, Comedy, Fantasy Romance, Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams, Kathy Bates, Michael Sheen)
While on a trip to Paris with his fiancée's family, a nostalgic screenwriter finds himself mysteriously going back to the 1920s every day at midnight
The Forbidden Kingdom (2008, Martial Arts,Action, Adventure, Fantasy, Jackie Chan, Jet Li)
A discovery made by a kung fu obsessed American teen sends him on an adventure to China, where he joins up with a band of martial arts warriors in order to free the imprisoned Monkey King.
The Inevitable Defeat Of Mister & Pete (2013, Drama, Skylan Brookes, Thean Dizon, Dir. George Tillman Jr.)
A coming-of-age story about two inner city boys who are left to fend for themselves over the summer after their mothers are taken away by the authorities.
How To Lose a Guy in 10 Days (2003, Comedy, Romance. Matthew McConaughey, Kate Hudson)
Benjamin Barry is an advertising executive and ladies' man who, to win a big campaign, bets that he can make a woman fall in love with him in 10 days.
Rom-Com from well before the ‘McConaissance’ was required.
Tag (2018, Comedy. Jeremy Renner, Ed Helms, Jon Hamm)
A small group of former classmates organize an elaborate, annual game of tag that requires some to travel all over the country.
The Hangover (2009, Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis, Dir. Tod Philips)
Three buddies wake up from a bachelor party in Las Vegas, with no memory of the previous night and the bachelor missing. They make their way around the city in order to find their friend before his wedding.
My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002, Comedy, Drama, Romance, Nia Vardalos, John Corbett)
A young Greek woman falls in love with a non-Greek and struggles to get her family to accept him while she comes to terms with her heritage and cultural identity.
The Weekend (2017, Comedy, Drama. Joivan Wade, Percelle Ascott, Dee Kaate)
Lifelong friends Derrick, Malcolm and Tyler accidentally come across 100k. They embark on a fun filled spending spree over the course of a weekend to end all weekends. But the money belongs to a furious gangster who's determined to get it back.
Blade II (2002, Wesley Snipes, Kris Kristofferson, Ron Perlman, Luke Goss, Dir. Guillermo del Toro)
Blade forms an uneasy alliance with the vampire council in order to combat the Reapers, who are feeding on vampires.
Terminator Salvation (2009, Sci-Fi, Action, Adventure, Christian Bale, Sam Worthington, Dir. McG)
Arguably now more famous for Bale’s eviscerating onset rant, this still has enough sci-fi hijinks to be watchable.
French Biryani (2020, Amazon Original Film)
French Biryani features actors Danish Sait, Sal Yusuf and Pitobash as leads. The movie is written by Avinash Balekkala, directed by Pannaga Bharana and produced by Ashwini and Puneeth Rajkumar and Gurudutt A Talwar.
Friday Night Lights (2004, Action, Drama, Sport, Billy Bob Thornton, Garrett Hedlund, Derek Luke, Dir. Peter Berg)
Odessa, Texas, is a small town in Texas. Racially divided and economically dying, everyone looks to the winning traditions of the Permian Panthers high school football team to lift their spirits on a Friday Night.
Gangs of New York (2002, Crime, Drama, Period. Leonardo DiCaprio, Cameron Diaz, Daniel Day- Lewis, Dir. Martin Scorsese)
In 1862, Amsterdam Vallon returns to the Five Points area of New York City seeking revenge against Bill the Butcher, his father's killer.
Sisterhood of The Travelling Pants (2005, Comedy, Drama, Romance. Amber Tamblyn, America Ferrara, Blake Lively)
Four best girlfriends hatch a plan to stay connected with one another as their lives start off in different directions: they pass around a pair of secondhand jeans that fits each of their bodies perfectly.
Competitor streamer, Netflix, has a strong selection of female-centric shows for July and with Hanna, Unraveling Athena, Radioactive and How to Build a Girl all coming in July, it looks like Amazon is having its own female empowerment month. Time for the boys of summer to step aside.
Let us know what you think of Amazon’s offering this month, what you’re looking forward to - and what you’re not.