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Amazon Prime Instant Video has always suffered in comparison to Netflix, despite its strong selection of indie and art-house titles, courtesy of deals with distributors such as StudioCanal. This summer, though, Amazon is hitting back hard: the VOD service not only welcomes back foreign cinema favourite Amelie, but also a whole heap of crowd-pleasing titles, from Argo to The Dark Knight Rises and Pacific Rim.
Some of its best new additions to date also arrive in the shape of Benedict Cumberbatch’s The Imitation Game and its fellow award nominee ’71, while family fun takes the form of the adorable Paddington. Oscar contenders, some superb superhero outings and the second season of Amazon’s exclusive Halle Berry sci-fi Extant? Summer blockbuster season has arrived. And Amazon is thinking big.
Arrow: Season 2 – Wednesday 1st July
Netflix may have Marvel’s Daredevil, but DC’s small-screen hero is just as entertaining in its own, light-hearted way. If it took a while for the tale of Stephen Amell’s playboy-turned-vigilante Oliver Queen to find its feet, Season 2 hits the ground from the first episode and doesn’t stop running.
Revolution: Season 2 – Wednesday 1st July
Did somebody say post-apocalyptic sci-fi? NBC’s now-cancelled show, created by Eric Kripke, continues the story of people struggling to survive after a permanent, worldwide blackout.
Shaun the Sheep: Season 4 Part 2 – Wednesday 1st July
If you were wondering where the world’s great silent comedians have gone, Aardman has got the answer: they’re plasticine sheep. Moving frame by frame in their mini, stop-motion adventures, the TV series continues to charm, even in its fourth season.
Lost in Translation – Wednesday 1st July
Bill Murray went serious for Sofia Coppola’s 2003 drama about a former movie star, who finds himself crossing paths with a fellow tourist (Scarlett Johansson) in Tokyo. As their unspoken bond develops over a stunning alien landscape, this funny tale of loneliness emerges as something beautifully bittersweet.
Amelie – Wednesday 1st July
When impish Amélie finds a long-hidden trove of toys behind a baseboard in her apartment, she’s inspired to return the items to their original owner. This is the one French film that everyone’s seen, but, as the film makes the journey from Netflix to Amazon Prime, that doesn’t mean it’s not worth seeing a second time.
Annedroids: Season 2 – Thursday 2nd July
A TV series about an 11-year-old girl genius who builds her own robots? Amazon’s original series returns with more adventures for one of TV’s best role models for young viewers.
Extant: Season 2 – Thursday 2nd July
Halle Berry went into space alone and came back pregnant in the first season of Amazon’s exclusively-acquired Extant. Now, the CBS sci-fi returns for a second season, as Berry’s astronaut discovers that the human race is on the path to destruction. Talk about bad luck.
Wrath of the Titans – Friday 3rd July
Sam Worthington and co. return for this sequel to the epic fantasy remake, as Perseus braves the underworld to rescue his dad, Zeus, while the gods lose control over the ancient Titans. As you would expect from a blockbuster sequel, this is bigger and louder than the first.
This Is Me – Tuesday 7th July
After bagging two Golden Globes with Transparent, Amazon has commissioned a new documentary series about transgender individuals, exploring issues from gender-neutral language to public toilets. One to watch.
J. Edgar – Wednesday 8th July
Leonardo DiCaprio stars in Clint Eastwood’s drama about the later years of FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, from the agency’s pursuit of John Dillinger to the Lindbergh kidnapping.
Legend of the Guardians – The Owls of Ga’Hoole – Wednesday 8th July
Imagine Star Wars, but with owls, and you have a good idea of the derivative entertainment on offer from Zack Snyder’s family adventure. The script trades in cliches, but excellent visuals (and a healthy dose of slow-mo) make for an undeniably fun ride.
’71 – Thursday 9th July
Is there anything Jack O’Connell can’t do? In a year that saw him take the lead in both Starred Up and Unbroken, he also starred in Yann Demange’s debut flick about a young British soldier abandoned by his unit following a riot on the streets of 1971 Belfast. Unable to tell friend from foe, this is a thrilling, shocking sprint through history that distills war into the simple urge to survive.
The Imitation Game – Thursday 9th July
The story of Alan Turing breaking the Enigma code gets tinkered with for this precisely-written biopic, but Benedict Cumberbatch’s performance as the mathematical genius, supported by Keira Knightley and an excellently-realised WWII setting, makes this Academy Award-friendly drama a compelling watch.
The Island – Thursday 9th July
Nothing says “summer movie season” better than a Michael Bay film. The director’s underrated thriller stars Ewan McGregor and Scarlett Johansson as a couple who break out of a top-secret compound, only to stumble into a deceptively smart sci-fi B-movie plot about stem-cell research.
The Matrix and The Matrix Reloaded – Thursday 9th July
Would you take the red pill or the blue pill? As The Wachowskis head to Netflix for their new series Sense8, Amazon offers their original hit trilogy to stream. The effects are as mind-blowing as you remember, Mr. Anderson.
Rock of Ages – Monday 13th July
Tom Cruise, Alec Baldwin, Catherine Zeta-Jones and more star in this adaptation of the Broadway rock jukebox musical. If you wanna know what love is, this is for you.
Eyes Wide Shut – Thursday 16th July
Stanley Kubrick’s final film was also his most debated, starring Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman as a New York couple who infiltrate a secret occult society. Sex, weird images and masks for all.
The Dark Knight Rises – Friday 17th July
Christopher Nolan completes his Batman trilogy with the biggest of the bunch, as Tom Hardy’s physically intimidating Bane sparks an uprising among Gotham’s poorer citizens. Combined with Anne Hathaway’s cat thief, Selina Kyle, this is an epic conclusion to Christian Bale’s stint behind the mask.
Paddington – Thursday 23rd July
“Come to London and you’ll be sure of a warm welcome,” an explorer tells Paddington and his uncle and aunt in Darkest Peru. In an age where we’ve seen the rise of UKIP, this delightful adaptation of Michael Bond’s books is a lovely reminder that humans are capable of kindness and tolerance. The multi-cultural message extends right down to the film’s comedy, which combines physical slapstick with an onslaught of puns and musical gags. You’ll end up wanting to hug every person you meet.
Pacific Rim – Saturday 25th July
What’s the only thing that can stop a gigantic alien invasion? Even larger robots. That’s the premise behind Guillermo Del Toro’s unabashedly retro actioner, which hits all the monster movie buttons you could wish. The non-robot cast includes Charlie Hunnam and Idris Elba.
Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Part 1 – Sunday 26th July
Amazon Prime has always offered a strong line-up of animated superheroics. This adaptation of Frank Miller’s legendary comic book – set 10 years after an ageing Batman has retired and Gotham City has sunk deeper into decadence and lawlessness – is a perfect addition.
Argo – Friday 31st July
Ben Affleck’s Oscar-winning thriller, based on true events, sees a CIA agent lead a rescue team to extract six kidnapped US diplomats from Tehran during the Iran hostage crisis. The mission? Pretend to make a Hollywood movie. Tense, funny, classy stuff that confirmed beyond doubt that Baffleck was more than his beard and chin.
Other new releases coming soon to Amazon Prime
Wednesday 1st July
Hell on Wheels: Season 4
PS I Love You
The Killing: Season 1
Friday 3rd July
Sunday 5th July
19-2: Season 1
Friday 10th July
Wednesday 15th July
The Amazing Race: Seasons 20 to 23
Thursday 16th July
Body of Lies
Thursday 23rd July
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