Once upon a time Amazon just sold books. Now Amazon is a huge behemoth of modern life and one of the things this behemoth does is make TV shows and films. These projects are called Amazon Originals and below are a few of the stand-out Originals.
The Boys deal with the uncomfortable truth of what superheroes might actually be like, not noble protectors but selfish, careless and cruel people. Take A-Train for example, the fastest man in the world who in the first episode literally runs through someone to Superman-esque Homelander who is about as terrifying as it gets. And these are the “heroes”, not supervillains, loved by the people and celebrated with endorsements, movie deals and more. William Butcher is the self-appointed judge of these superheroes, trying to get the world to realise how dangerous and messed up they are (as well as killing them from time to time). With no superpowers of his own Butcher has to be creative in his methods and many times is not much of a hero himself.
Good Omens was an Amazon-BBC co-production series based on the book of the same name by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. The show revolves around the antichrist, the apocalypse and the coming war between Heaven and Hell but after an administrative error by some satanic nuns the antichrist is misplaced and brought up in a quiet English village. A demon and an angel, who actually quite like Earth and don’t fancy this apocalypse business decide to stop it by raising a morally neutral antichrist but realise they have been watching the wrong child. It is a phenomenal show about friendship, love and the virtuous and vile aspects of humanity, for example, Crowley, the demon, has been tasked on making awful things happen on Earth. But he doesn’t do that, instead simply takes credit for the terrible things humans do without any outside interference. The pair of Crowley (David Tenant) and the angel Aziraphale (Michael Sheen) is a constant joy before we even get into the witch Agnes Nutter, her descendent Anathema Device, and of course, God, voiced by triple Oscar winner Frances McDormand.
Catastrophe is a sitcom written by and starring Sharon Horgan and Rob Delaney (whilst they are not playing themselves their characters are called Sharon and Rob). Their characters have a brief relationship which results in Sharon becoming pregnant and they decide to get married and raise the child together. The show is hilarious and has an angry edge lacking in most sitcoms, it shows the characters at their worst as well as their moments of kindness and love. They have arguments, unpleasant, fierce arguments where nasty things are said and difficult truths shared, they are shown making mistakes, being selfish, of not being their best. And again, it is hilarious.
The Vast of Night
The Vast of Night is a very clever sci-fi film from a couple of years ago set in 1950s small-town America. A radio producer, Everett, picks up what might be a signal from aliens and he and a telephone operator, Fay try to investigate what’s going on. The film is eerie and unsettling without a great deal of big events happening – this is not Independence Day. The cinematography is amazing and it’s a joy to simply watch fantastic shot after fantastic shot, with painstaking attention to detail to make it appear the 1950s and some spectacular tracking shots that follow the action.
The Big Sick
The Big Sick is based on the real-life relationship of Kumail Nanjiani and Emily Gordon (who wrote the film together and Nanjiani stars in the film, the main characters are called Kumail and Emily) detailing the difficulties of this relationship when Kumail’s family strongly disapprove of him dating someone not of his ethnicity. This problem is brought into sharp focus when the character based on Emily becomes extremely ill, going into a coma, and soon her parents come to help take care of her. With their relationship in a very odd place Kumail is at a loss as to how he should be with Emily’s parents, leading to some fascinating interactions. It’s a touching and very funny film with a great cast but it was a delight to see Emily’s parents played by the legendary Holly Hunter and Ray Romano (having never liked his sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond he is great in this).