Amazon Prime Day Your Way to Vulture-Approved Movies, Video Games, and TV-Show Box Sets

Photo: Warner Brothers

Amazon Prime Day, that lusty, annual online warehouse sale by the world's biggest retailer, is drawing to a close. But before it wraps up, we wanted to highlight a few great entertainment options available to you ("you" being Amazon Prime members, which is a prerequisite, so be sure to sign up if you're not already a Primer) on the cheap. These picks are all pulled from our recent mid-year and year-end best-of lists (with a helpful excerpt from the corresponding write-up), so you know they're good. To us. Buy them all!


Inside Out, $18
“Pixar’s Pete Docter imagines the mind of an adolescent girl as a surreal city with a high-tech control-tower HQ overseen by five emotions (Amy Poehler’s Joy is the cheerleader) working in harmony and, frequently, disharmony,” we wrote last year. “The movie will inspire sad girls and boys, and the grown-ups who grew up from them, for as long as there are movies.”

Chi-raq, $8
“Spike Lee’s movies can be overfull of messages — placards — but in this loose adaptation of Aristophanes’s Lysistrata, they’re put to madly satirical use — on the way to mounting a howl of protest against an ongoing Chicago tragedy born of guns and gang rivalry,” we wrote. “Teyonah Parris is the bombshell who leads the women of the city in a sexual boycott — ‘No peace, no pussy’ — that spreads to the whole world. It’s too long, too indulgent, too too. It’s also everything that agitprop theater should be.”

The Martian, $15
“Cynical as I am about how monster-budget blockbusters have come to dominate the studio mind-set, I can’t imagine anyone not liking this one. The Martian is shot, designed, computer-generated, and scripted on a level that makes most films of its ilk look slipshod,” we wrote. “The rollicking climax suggests that by working together, humans can bend space to their will. The movie turns Alien into Friends.”

Creed, $30
“It’s a hell of a movie, a funny mix of corn and street: street corn,” we wrote. “Creed represents a kind of Hollywood fantasy that doesn’t have to be specious, focusing on pride, determination, self-control, hard work, and forging one’s own identity. Movies don’t always have to be ‘how things are.’ When they’re as warm and rousing as Creed, they can be “how we want to make things.’”

Mad Max: Fury Road, From $12
“George Miller’s years-in-the-making masterpiece is more than just a great action film — though it absolutely is also that,” we wrote. “It follows the logic of a nightmare: Miller makes sure that we experience the movie as a series of surreal images, even as he delivers the visceral goods. So we get truck chases and car chases and bikes flying off cliffs and epic, intricate four-way fistfights … but we also get armies of masked demons who pole-vault into moving cars, and ghostlike, fierce terminal warriors who worship V8 engines and chrome paint, and ancient female avengers who seem to rise up out of a desert that changes texture depending on the characters’ psychic states.”


Hannibal: Season 1, $13
“Other series were more comprehensible, and nearly all were less gore-soaked, but none was as consistently innovative and sublime as Bryan Fuller’s take on Thomas Harris’s fiction,” we wrote. “This visionary drama evoked German Expressionist cinema, glossy-pretentious art-house pictures like The Hunger and Zentropa, super-sexy fanfiction, and even experimental film.”

Mad Men: Seasons 1-5, $10 each
“Its final half-season was a summation of everything Matthew Weiner’s period drama ever was or wanted to be and also an exponential raising of its literary and psychological stakes,” we wrote. “Some viewers balked at the attention paid to peripheral characters like Diana the waitress, but the democratic storytelling sensibility paid off in the final episodes, depicting the dissolution of both Don Draper and the agency he did so much to build. The finale’s last five minutes were quintessential Mad Men: startling, cryptic, and poignant.”

UnREAL: Season 1, $19
“Smart and dark, wry and incisive, Lifetime's summer drama has hit every mark a freshman show can hit,” we wrote. “UnREAL is cynical about television and society, and yet a tiny bit hopeful about individual humans. It finds drama in that tension; in that conflict between participating in a broken system and knowing that if you leave, things will get even worse ... the show can be dirty and silly, too — it's not a lecture, and it's not judgmental about pleasure. Sex is fun, and people want to have it.”


Doom, $30
“The gaming public tends to be much more accepting of reboots and revivals than fans of movies and television, eagerly welcoming updated versions of franchises they grew up with, now with better graphics and modern sensibilities,” we wrote. “But even with that in mind, a rebooted Doom was a suspicious prospect: Who wanted a ’90s throwback shooter in 2016, a violent, demon-killing heavy-metal gorefest with little concern for story and a lot of concern for how good it feels to shoot giant fucking guns? Games are smarter than that now, yeah? Well, yes. They are. But so is Doom: It now offers meticulous, intelligently crafted mayhem and violence, a dick-swinging-yet-self-aware adrenaline rush that takes what it needs from the past and explodes into the present.”

Dark Souls III, $50
“At this point, the Dark Souls series of games is known primarily for one thing: difficulty,” we wrote. “They are games that are hard to learn, hard to play well, with stories that are hard to understand. Really, they’re puzzles; their primary joy lies in seeing the many unexpected ways their perilous worlds fit together. Although Dark Souls III is the conclusion to the series, it’s also the most accessible, benefiting from the years of refinement the medieval-horror action-game franchise has gone through. It is, like its predecessors, a game that envelops you, and pushes you to take on challenges you didn’t know you could beat. Few games are as demanding as the Dark Souls games, but even fewer are as rewarding.”

Fallout 4, $30
“There are times when Fallout 4 doesn't seem to want to be a good game — it is clumsy and unwieldy and dense, curious in the new things it brings to a popular series and frustrating in what it chooses to streamline,” we wrote. “But more frequent are the stories you will find and lose yourself in, the strange, sad, and scary things that the developers have hidden across post-nuclear Boston, the sort of stuff that makes for games you keep playing for a very long time.”