June’s already here and as the weather improves there’s nothing to indicate normality returning soon. Therefore, the TV could remain your main source of entertainment in the absence of anything approximating a social life, so we look at what Amazon Prime Video has to offer for the first month of summer.
New TV shows such as Alex Rider and This Is Us, along with popular movies like The Shining and The Departed are confirmed as coming to the UK this month but schedule listings for streaming services can sometimes be vague about which territory every advertised piece of content is coming to.
So, unfortunately, it looks like the UK may not be getting Rian Johnson’s Knives Out just yet even though it’s coming to Amazon Prime Video US from June 12th. Nonetheless it’s hopefully a good indication that it will come to the UK service in short order.
There are also a handful of films that are debuting on the streaming service under the Exclusive Early Access Home Premiere umbrella having been denied a theatrical release due to the Covid-19 pandemic. These include the latest Scooby-Doo adventure, the animated, SCOOB, which criminally doesn’t use Matthew Lillard who played Shaggy Rogers in the two movies from the early 2000s and then went on to effectively take over from the late Casey Kasem as the de facto voice of everyone’s favourite green-shirted, slacker, scaredy-cat.
Also under the Home Premiere banner is The High Note about a superstar singer and her overworked personal assistant, and The King of Staten Island, starring SNL’s Pete Davisdson as weed-smoking twenty-something who is running from the tragedy in his past.
Recently announced are 4 Premiership matches which will come to Prime subscribers at no extra cost and even if you’re not a football fan, it might be cathartic to see an activity that involves people getting closer than 2m just to remind yourself what it was like!
Currently, only one of the four Amazon Prime fixtures has been announced, Crystal Palace v Burnley at 8pm on Monday 29th June.
Here’s the pick of the show and movies on Amazon Prime Video UK for June 2020.
Based on the Anthony Horowitz’s series of books, Alex Rider sees Otto Farrant play the titular teenage character who is recruited by MI6 after the mysterious death of his secret agent uncle. Alex is pressured into leaving his old life behind and goes undercover to investigate the connection between the deaths of two billionaires and a remote boarding school. Soon Alex starts to realise his uncle was preparing him for a life of espionage all along.
Based on the second Rider novel, Pont Blanc, this eight part series effectively reboots the 2006 Stormbreaker movie (currently showing on Amazon Prime Video as Alex Rider: Operation Stormbreaker) which starred the likes of Mickey Rourke, Damian Lewis and Ewan McGregor as well as Alex Pettyfer as Alex Rider, and was the UK’s largest independent film at the time. It failed to spark at the Box Office and it’s taken 14 years for this latest version to come to fruition.
We review Alex Rider Season 1 here.
El Presidente (2020, Amazon Original)
The dramatisation of the corruption scandal that engulfed football’s world governing body, FIFA, in 2015. Playing out against a backdrop of cities across Latin America, the US and Europe, this ‘dramedy’ explores the story of Jadue (Andrés Parra), a small‐time Chilean football club president who rose from obscurity to become a key player in a $150M bribery conspiracy at the hands of the infamous president of the Argentine football association, Julio Grondona (Luis Margani).
This four-episode, Spanish-language docuseries follows the fortunes of four Spanish greats as they ply their trade outside of their home country.
There’s exclusive access into the private lives of a group of four footballers, including Manchester United’s Juan Mata, who belonged to the Spanish football “Golden Generation” and were part of the acclaimed national team that won the World Cup in South Africa in 2010.
This is Us (S4)
A sizeable hit in the US, This Is Us has suffered from broadcaster and schedule bouncing in the UK, resulting in less interest from UK audiences. However, it now seems to have found a home on Amazon Prime (it was previously shown on Channel 4 and More4) who previously showed season three and has now unveiled the fourth.
Following the members of Pearson family across the decades, their highs and lows are charted at different points in time to concentrate alternatively on parents Jack and Rebecca, and their triplet offspring. This heartwarming but grounded dramedy is emotional and life-affirming and examines the importance of the connections we make over our lifetimes. Starring Milo Ventimiglia (from Heroes), Mandy Moore and Sterling K. Brown (The Predator, Black Panther and Hotel Artemis) who won an Emmy for his role.
Now could be the time to catch up because NBC has committed to at least 2 more seasons.
Gina Brillon: The Floor is Lava (Amazon Original)
It’s Brillon’s third stand up special and in The Floor is Lava, she pulls no punches as she effortlessly guides the audience on a journey of love, laughter and heart. In this hour long special Gina discusses her childhood, culture and the transition from single to married life with her Midwestern husband.
LOL: Last One Laughing (Amazon Original)
A new season of LOL: Last One Laughing moves the comedy from Mexico to Australia in this Taskmaster meets Big Brother mashup where 10 professional comedians, locked together in a house, battle it out for a $100,000 prize by aiming to keep a straight face while simultaneously trying to make their opponents laugh.
Pitch Perfect’s Rebel Wilson presents the show, so expect lots of laughs from start to finish.
The Shining (1980, Drama, Horror. Jack Nicolson, Shelley Duval, Danny Lloyd, Dir. Stanley Kubrick)
Struggling writer Jack Torrence moves his family into the deserted Overlook Hotel to act as caretaker during the offseason. Torrence’s young son possesses psychic abilities that cause him to see the hotel’s horrific past. As these past deeds manifest themselves as hallucinations and visions, Jack's sanity deteriorates, placing his wife and son in danger.
Pushing both his technical crew (modifications were made to the brand steadicam technology) and cast (his treatment of Shelley Duval would not be tolerated today) director Stanley Kubrick fashioned a masterpiece of unnerving suspense that recently saw a well received sequel in Doctor Sleep.
Dating Amber (2020, Comedy, Fionn O’Shea, Lola Pettigrew, Sharon Horgan) Amazon Original
Tired of continuous speculation about each of their sexualities, two school friends decide to start a pretend straight relationship in an effort to fit in.
Set in Ireland during the mid-1990s, this honest and poignant film examines the highs and lows of teenage life where the only way to fit in is to not be yourself, even if this goes against everything you stand for.
Game Night (2018, Action, Comedy, Crime, Jason Bateman, Rachel McAdams, Kyle Chandler)
Max and Annie are a married couple who routinely have their friends over for uber competitive games nights. When Max’s brother offers to host the next one with the promise of ‘something special’, the lines between reality and fantasy become confusingly blurred for the players who unwittingly embark on a game where the stakes are much, much higher than they anticipated.
Directed by John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein (writers of Horrible Bosses and directors of Vacation), Game Night is darkly comedic with winning performances from a reliable cast and was surprisingly well received by critics and audiences alike.
Rampage (2018, Action Adventure, Sci-Fi, Dwayne Johnson, Naomie Harris, Malin Akerman, Dir. Brad Peyton)
When three different animals become infected with a dangerous pathogen, a primatologist and a geneticist team up to stop them from destroying Chicago.
The primatologist who steps up to save the day is Dwayne Johnson, because one of the infected beasties is his beloved albino gorilla, George, who is growing rapidly and getting more and more out of control. Worst still, the other two creatures are a wolf and a crocodile.
Flimsily based on an arcade video game, Rampage marks the third collaboration between director Peyton and actor Johnson after Journey 2: The Mysterious Island and San Andreas, and that probably gives you enough information right there regarding the levels of noisy destruction on offer.
Hairspray (2007, John Travolta, Michelle Pfeiffer Christopher Walken, Queen Latifah)
‘Pleasantly plump’ teenager Tracy Turnblad teaches 1962 Baltimore a thing or two about integration after landing a spot on a local TV dance show which she adores.
The glittery ensemble cast and reworked Broadway songs, along with 4 all-new tunes, helped Hairspray to become a critical and financial success leading to broken records at the time - it now stands at number 10 in the list of highest grossing musical films in US cinema history.
To be honest, this could just as easily be the 1988 version directed by John Waters and starring Ricki Lake, the listings are not that clear, but if that’s the case, just swap Divine for Travolta and you’re good to go.
Gulabo Sitabo (2020, Comedy Drama, Amitabh Bachchan, Ayushmann Khurrana)
Two scheming men, one a landlord, the other a tenant, get caught up in a game of one upmanship, each one attracting other members to their clan and each one with an agenda of his own. The two sparring foes are equally matched in their ceaseless bickering but their adversarial relationship soon descends into chaos.
Victim to numerous release schedule changes, this anticipated Hindi Language comedy drama will instead debut globally on Amazon Prime Video.
The Hindi language trailer is below - make sure YouTube’s subtitle option is activated.
The Departed (2006, Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicolson, Dir. Martin Scorsese)
A young undercover cop slowly earns the trust of the crime boss whose crew he’s infiltrated, while the gangster’s own mole is working his way through police training in the Boston PD. As information gets fed back and forth about the gang and the police’s next moves, they both realize they have been compromised. Now, there’s a life and death race to see who gets uncovered first.
This remake of Hong Kong based Infernal Affairs, which finally earned Martin Scorsese his first Best Director Oscar, is also notable for the simply Herculean volume of profanity shovelled around the screen which makes Raging Bull seem like Jackanory.
The frankly staggering cast, DiCpario, Damon, Nicolson (chewing scenery like Covid-19 had taken his sense of taste), Mark Wahlberg, Martin Sheen, Ray Winstone, Vera Farmiga and Alec Baldwin bought the best out of each other and stunningly, Mark Wahlberg was nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar. To be fair, his “You calling us ****s?” scene is a doozy.
Back To The Future Trilogy (1985, 1989, 1990, Adventure, Comedy, Sci-Fi, Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson, Mary Steenburgen, Dir, Robert Zemeckis)
When Marty McFly gets involved with Doc Brown’s latest crazy scheme, he inadvertently gets sent back to 1955. Trapped in the past, the only person he can turn to for help is… Doc Brown. Trouble is, he’s 30 years younger and doesn’t know who Marty is.
Robert Zemeckis’s delightfully playful trio of films takes time travel and uses it intelligently to propel the narrative, bouncing around from 1985, to 1955 and back again, throwing a dark curve ball for the second film and going all Wild West for the third. The pace is nippy, the dialogue quotable and the emotion genuine.
Despite some casting hiccups along the course of the first two movies (Stolz - out! Shue - in! Crispin Glover - upside down!) the central pairing of Michael J. Fox and Christpher Lloyd held a genuine warmth which allowed the character’s flaws (Marty won't back down from a fight and Doc Brown has a streak of arrogance) to be easily forgiven.
Smart, funny, inventive and knowing (“Shark still looks fake”) there’s hoverboards, manure, guitar solos, the greatest punch in cinema, Grays Sports Almanac, Calvin Klein and Clint Eastwood. Great Scott, it’s all here!
Shaun The Sheep Movie: Farmageddon (2019, Animation, Adventure, Comedy)
When a mischievous alien with amazing powers crash-lands near Mossy Bottom Farm, Shaun the Sheep goes on a mission to help the impish intergalactic visitor home before a sinister organization can capture her.
Aardman’s signature style and humour are all over Shaun’s latest big screen adventure and, as usual, more than one viewing will be required to catch the torrent of background gags, newspaper headlines, shop signs and endless jokes, parodies and homages of sci-fi movies through the ages. Great for kids and grown ups alike.
7500 (2019, Drama Thriller, International. Omid Memar, Joseph Gordon-Levitt) Amazon Original
This international hijack thriller sees co-pilot Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s plane taken by force and plays out with his character trapped in the cockpit knowing that among the hostages on the other side of the cabin door is his flight attendant girlfriend and mother to their son.
Penguin (2020, Drama, Thriller, International: India. Keerthy Suresh, Dir. Eshaver Karthic) Amazon Original
A spine chilling tale of a bereaved mother who sets out on a dangerous mission to unravel a mystery and save her loved ones.
Legally Blonde (2001, Comedy, Romance, Reese Witherspoon, Luke Wilson)
Elle Woods (Reese Witherspoon), a fashionable sorority queen is dumped by her boyfriend who plans to become a politician and doesn’t think she’ll fit in with his new life. Determined to prove she’s more than just a pretty face, Elle decides to follow him and enrol in the same institution to teach him a lesson.
Having spawned a sequel 2003 a musical in 2007 and a direct to DVD release in 2009, as of 2018 there were discussions over a third movie installment.
Dumb and Dumber (1994, Comedy, Jim Carrey, Jeff Daniels, Dir, Peter Farrelly)
After a woman leaves a briefcase at the airport terminal, a pair of well meaning but not exactly blessed-in-the-common-sense-department friends set out on a memorable cross-country road trip to Aspen to return it, unaware it's a ransom payment.
Sandwiched between The Mask and Batman Forever, Jim Carrey seemed determined to mine the absolute depths of juvenile comedy and found the perfect partners in the Farrelly Brothers who launched their own careers with this buddy road movie featuring Harry and Lloyd ( hey, Harold Lloyd, I just got it!) who really should have been taken out by Darwin’s unwavering arrow by now.
There are a number of memorable gags including frozen tongues and the most annoying sound in the world but it’s a mystery how Jeff Daniels was talked into the diarrhoea sequence after his previous turn as veteran bomb disposal cop (also called Harry) in Speed. Guess actors like a challenge.
Law (2020, Thriller, International: India) Amazon Original
The Silence of The Lambs (1991, Crime, Drama, Thriller, Anthony Hopkins, Jodie Foster, Dir. Jonathan Demme)
A young F.B.I. cadet (Jodie Foster) must receive the help of an incarcerated and manipulative cannibal killer to help catch another serial killer, a madman who skins his victims.
Based on Thomas Harris’s novel of the same name, this adaptation bought Hannibal Lecter to multiplex audiences who immediately developed a fascination with Anthony Hopkins’ magnetic monster, somewhat overshadowing Brian Cox’s equally startling turn as (the then) Doctor Lecktor in a less grandstanding but icily detached version of the genius cannibal in Manhunter. Today, the good Doctor is something of a cottage industry with prequels, sequels and TV shows.
At the time, Silence of the Lambs was a commercial and critical success and became only the third film ever to gain a clean sweep of the 5 big Oscar Awards (Movie, Director, Male Actor, Female Actor, Screenplay). It is considered "culturally, historically or aesthetically" significant by the U.S. Library of Congress and was selected to be preserved in the National Film Registry in 2011.
The Truman Show (1998, Comedy, Drama, Sci-Fi, Jim Carrey, Ed Harris, Laura Linney, Dir, Peter Weir)
Truman Burbank is an insurance salesman who has grown up living an ordinary life, all the while unaware that he is in fact the star of a reality TV show that takes place on a set populated by actors. One day a set light falls from the sky arousing Truman’s suspicions. Can the mysterious Christof maintain the illusion and keep Truman in ignorance.
This was Jim Carrey’s first real attempt at something which didn’t rely on gurning and silly voices (great though those are) and the end result is both touchingly cathartic as Truman strives for independence. It’s all the more prescient given the recent issues surrounding reality contestants and subsequent mental health issues.
That’s it for June then. If that doesn’t satisfy, it might be worth spreading your net a little further and seeing what Amazon’s affiliated subscription channels, such as StarzPlay and hayu might have to offer.
Looking further ahead, Amazon still has a number of high profile shows which were completed before film and TV production across the world production came to a halt. Among the most anticipated are second seasons of Hanna and The Boys which will hopefully be with audiences soon.