In the neverending streaming wars, it’s typically the likes of Netflix, Disney Plus and HBO Max that grab all the headlines. Yet recently I’ve found myself gravitating towards Amazon Prime Video when searching for someone to watch on lazy weekends.
No one is more surprised at this development than me. I’ve always viewed Prime Video as little more than a bonus that comes (essentially) free with a Prime subscription. My reason for paying a monthly fee to Amazon was always the express shipping, Prime Video was a rarely used extra.
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In the last few months, my perspective has shifted and Prime Video has become a staple app on my television. I’m not even using it to watch flagship content offerings like The Boys. In fact, I still haven’t finished the latest season of the violent superhero show as I was underwhelmed by its second outing (my editor tells me I should keep going).
I so rarely hear Prime Video mentioned when the topic of the best streaming services comes up (around Tom Guide's online HQ that's a more common conversation than you might expect). So, I felt it was time to shine a spotlight on Amazon’s streamer and explain why I think it’s worth your monthly subscription – and your time if you already have it via Prime.
Prime Video has some of the best movies around
I’ve previously written about how movies make a streaming service for me. I’m seemingly in the minority on that. When it comes to streaming, binge-able series tend to gain the most attention.
Nevertheless, as a self-confessed movie buff, if a service can offer me a constantly growing plethora of features worth watching then it will retain my subscription fee each month. Prime Video does just that.
Sure, the service’s original content offering is regularly questionable. Although I will admit I found The Map of Tiny Perfect Things very endearing, and I sort of enjoyed The Tomorrow War, if only because I love anything that involves time travel. Though the less said about the likes of Jexi and After We Collided the better.
However, Prime Video really excels in the movie department thanks to its practically unmatched collection of notable films from other studios. Awards fare like Parasite and 1917 were promptly added to the service last year, and the entire Matrix trilogy was just recently made available ahead of The Matrix 4 releasing (admittedly on HBO Max) this winter.
Whenever I load up Prime Video there always seems to be something from a major studio worth watching. Whenever I boot up Netflix (in the UK), if there aren’t any new Netflix Originals added then you’re typically faced with a collection of movies usually found in the $1 DVD bin at Walmart.
If they don’t have it, you can rent it
Another feature of Prime Video that I’ve come to really appreciate is alongside the service’s content library it offers the ability to rent just about any film in existence.
There are third-party services like JustWatch (opens in new tab) which will tell you where you can rent movies, but the convenience on Prime Video of being able to search for a movie in the catalog and if it’s not available instantly buy or rent it cannot be overstated.
For example, last weekend I wanted to watch Chaos Walking as I’ve read the book it’s based on. When I searched on Netflix, it wasn't there. Instead, I got a range of titles that Netflix deemed “related” from the vaguely connected like The Devil All the Time (Tom Holland is in both) to the completely unrelated television series Ginny & Georgia.
Whereas when I search on Prime Video, I was informed the film wasn’t in the streaming catalog but for £1.99 I could rent it. An option I duly took. Then ultimately regretted when the movie turned out to be absolutely terrible — good job I only rented it.
Other streaming services like Apple TV Plus do offer the same feature, allowing you to rent movies through iTunes, but in my experience films are often cheaper on Prime. For example, Choas Walking was £4.49 to rent through Apple, and it’s definitely not worth that much.
The perfect supplemental service
Ultimately, Amazon Prime Video probably works best as a supplemental service. I’m not suggesting that if you can only subscribe to a single service then it’s the one to pick — I’d probably still advise Netflix in that scenario. But for a solid starting point for those moments when you're looking to discover something or find a movie, it's more than solid — it's reliable.
However, Prime Video offers a lot more than it’s typically given credit for. So, here’s to you Amazon Prime Video. You may not always get the praise you deserve but you have a permanent place on my Smart TV. Just please don’t ever consider making a sequel to Jexi.
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