Easter marks an extremely busy period as far as streaming content is concerned. On one hand, MGM (now a subsidy of Amazon) via Prime Video celebrates 60 years of James Bond by uploading every single film from the franchise for streaming.
Among those is the most recent: No Time to Die, the final film in Daniel Craig’s (very, very long) tenure as 007. Other recent Hollywood big hitters also find their way to streaming in Denis Villeneuve’s Dune (Part 1), which ideally would have already been seen on the biggest and loudest cinema screen possible (for which it was expressly designed), but it’s a pretty great sci-fi epic anyway, with tangibility that stands apart from the weightless digital sheen of too many American blockbusters.
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Speaking of epics — via IMDb TV (soon to be rebranded as Amazon Freevee) on Prime Video — the singing and dancing animated classic The Prince of Egypt also comes to streaming, a film that plays even better now than it does in the memory.
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Dune - NOW with a Sky Cinema Membership (pick of the week)
An Oscar-winning redux of Frank Herbert’s foundational environmentalist sci-fi novel, itself a spin on Lawrence of Arabia, Denis Villeneuve’s take on Dune is one of staggering scale.
Starships completely dominate the screen, the maw of a sandworm looks like the planet itself cleaving in two, the sound of throat singers and Zimmer’s score (mixing traditional instruments with ominous, bass-heavy hums) rumbles the very earth.
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But it’s sparing in the right places too, with all its stylish minimalism in its costuming and art direction, opting for simple but distinctive silhouettes with vehicle and person alike. When it comes to the story itself, well, it’s half of one — rather boldly announced by the ‘Part 1’ subtitle at the top of the film, when its popularity was less assured.
Watch a trailer for Dune
But even though its end point feels overtly like its abruptly closed the book at a crucial narrative juncture, the tactile pleasures of watching Dune are undeniable. In that element, the VFX is astounding, immersive and smartly deployed, punchy rather than numbing.
Villeneuve has proven himself a dab hand at sci-fi that feels of a real time and place, not just thoughtful but immediate and direct in the sensations they provide in witnessing. Though Dune is yet to be completed, it’s a delightful film to just luxuriate in.
Also new on NOW: Antlers, Paw Patrol: The Movie
No Time To Die - Prime Video
For some reason, Daniel Craig’s Bond has felt purposefully long in the tooth since Skyfall, only his 3rd outing as Ian Fleming’s decades old character. Having retired from the service, Bond once again finds himself isolated from his role as blunt instrument for the British government, only for long-festering reckonings to circle back around.
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But the catch this time is: it’s not for him — it’s for his partner Madeleine Swann (Lea Seydoux), his first proper love interest since Eva Green’s Vesper Lynd, whose charm and personality is of such magnitude that she’s haunted the franchise since she died in 2006's Casino Royale.
Watch a trailer for No Time To Die
Enter Rami Malek's Safin, a mostly uninspiring cut-and-paste megalomaniac with a world domination plan involving a targeted virus, ripped straight from the video game series Metal Gear Solid (just Google FOXDIE and read what happens to the series protagonist, and you’ll get it).
Director Cary Fukunaga takes Bond in some new directions that feel exciting at times, especially when the film’s standout Ana de Armas enters the picture. But it’s also incredibly sombre, which in itself feels bold but gets a little wearisome over the film’s long running time. Still, one of the better efforts than the desperately over-nostalgic Sam Mendes films.
The Prince of Egypt (IMDb TV via Prime Video)
The incredibly stylised CG animation... the outstanding music... it’s an incredible shame that Dreamworks opted to make more films like Shrek rather than more films like the exceptional The Prince of Egypt. Its engaging retelling Cecil B DeMille’s 1956 religious epic The Ten Commandments focuses in on the relationship between the two brothers Moses and Ramses: one born of royal blood, and one an orphan with a secret past.
While the two grow up best friends, their good-natured rivalry is soon turned sour as their fates intervene as one becomes the ruler of the most powerful empire on earth, and the other the chosen leader of his people. For the layman The Prince of Egypt has plenty to appreciate with its all-star cast and the catchy lyricism of Stephen Schwartz and Hans Zimmer’s musical sequences.
For those into animation, its striking blend of traditional animation with CG made by a gargantuan production team of 350 artists (some poached from Disney and the defunct Amblimation) is captivating.
It’s one of the most successful non-Disney animated films of its era for a reason, one that embraced more adult storytelling to contrast the young studio’s rivals.
Gattaca (IMDb TV via Prime Video)
Set in a future society where eugenics permeates every waking moment of life, people are set on a pre-determined life course depending on what their DNA tells the authorities.
The young and appropriately named Vincent Freeman (a fresh-faced Ethan Hawke) is born with a heart condition that would prevent him getting into the GATTACA space travel program and so he devises a scheme to infiltrate it. He enlists the help of Jerome Eugene Morrow (Jude Law), a former swimming champion paralysed after a car accident.
Though its moody tone and oppressive architecture speaks to a more adolescent idea of ‘serious’ sci-fi there’s no denying the evocative atmosphere of Gattaca, a sci-fi flick steeped in some simple but deeply felt human storytelling.
Also on Prime Video: Joe Bell, I, Robot, every James Bond film
Watch:The best James Bond films according to the experts