While the coronavirus might have delayed filming for now, the big streaming services are still managing to put out new content – at least for the time being.
Here are eight new releases on Amazon Prime to keep you entertained on those lazy summer evenings:
Dating Amber, available now
Fans of Sex Education and Derry Girls will likely be charmed by this kind-hearted semi-romcom about two nerdy misfits – one male, one female – coming to terms with their sexuality in 1990s Ireland.
As a ploy to hide their real preference from homophobic bullies, the two friends decide to pretend to be a couple. But it’s when they escape to Dublin for a weekend of underage partying that their divergent coming out journeys begin.
Having already warmed the heart of Mark Kermode (the Beeb’s most discerning film buff), this gentle comedy could become the sleeper hit of the summer.
Alex Rider, available now
If you’ve got kids of the right age, you’ll no doubt be well aware of Alex Rider – the teenage spy series created by acclaimed mystery writer Anthony Horowitz (the only person, incidentally, to have written for both the James Bond and Sherlock Holmes franchises).
After an underwhelming film adaptation in 2006, Horowitz’s creation now gets the full Amazon treatment, turned into an eight-part series by BAFTA-winning screenwriter Guy Burt. Though the series was praised by critics when it landed in June, the real question will be whether it wins the approval of Rider’s million-strong fanbase. If it does, expect a second one pronto.
Hanna (season two), available now
Based on the cult 2011 film of the same name, Hanna is a hard-hitting survival thriller about a teenager in rural Poland who discovers a family secret: that she was bred by a secret government programme intended to raise super assassins.
Taking place largely within snow-laden forests, the first series of Hanna was a tense and slightly serene thriller styled almost as a deliberate rejection of the typical urban thriller. And it was all the better for it.
Season two sees Hanna – played perfectly by Brit newcomer Esme Creed-Miles – hot on the trail of the operatives who might have just killed her nearest and dearest. You wouldn’t want to be in their shoes right now.
Unraveling Athena, from 13 July
Arriving just in time to console dejected tennis fans – who will still be reeling from the loss of Wimbledon – Unraveling Athena is a high-octane documentary about the superhuman grit and determination of female tennis champions.
Featuring interviews with the likes of Billie Jean King, Martina Navratiolova and Martina Hingis (although only archive footage of the Williams sisters) the film offers a stirring take on what it means to be at the top of your game. Having already made a splash at independent documentary festivals, the film gets its biggest release yet via Amazon this summer.
El Presidente, available now
Here’s one to make the lawyers nervous: El Presidente is a Chilean comedy drama based on the infamous 2015 FIFA corruption case in which a number of officials – including Chile’s former football chief – were indicted by the FBI for racketeering and money laundering.
Colombian actor Andrés Parra – most famous for his turn as drug empresario Pablo Escobar – steps into the role of Sergio Jadue, once the most powerful man in Chilean football and now banned for life from any involvement in the game. This should be juicy.
Homecoming (season two), available now
I was a big fan of the original Homecoming – the tightly-written podcast thriller that became a bit of a cult sensation back in 2016 (if you haven’t heard it, it’s well worth a listen).
Based on a chilling premise about the military industrial complex and its treatment of soldiers suffering from PTSD – and starring, in its radio format, David Schwimmer – the show was quickly snapped up by Prime Video for the small screen. Hidden Figures’ Janelle Monae takes on the lead role and series two has just landed on Amazon Prime. If the first season is anything to go by, this should be good.
The Vast of Night, available now
Full of knowing nods to The Twilight Zone and other era-defining spooky shows, The Vast of Night is a smart and subtle paranormal thriller set in 1950s New Mexico.
As with most genuinely scary films, it works because debut director Andrew Patterson (keep an ear out for his name in future) understands that less is more. His real USP, though, is his impressive ability to use the power of audio alone to genuinely unnerve the audience. Combine that with zippy dialogue, fresh cinematography and healthy dose of Brylcreemed swagger, and you’ve got yourself a winner.
A smart acquisition for Amazon Prime, in my opinion.
Rocketman, available now
One of a number of blockbuster biopics released in 2019, this crowd-pleasing take on the life of Elton John finally arrives on the small screen in time for the summer.
As well as doing rather well at the box office, the film was also a runaway success for its Wales-born lead Taron Egerton, who went from being a near unknown to scooping a Golden Globe for his bombastic turn as Pinner’s most famous son. Yes, it’s camp and cliched, but why not just enjoy it? Goodness knows our film critic did…