'Amazon Empire: The Rise and Reign of Jeff Bezos'
(DVD / PG-13 / 2020 / PBS)
Overview: Examining Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos' ascent to power and the global impact of the empire he built.
The film also investigates the darker side of the company's rapid growth, and the challenge of trying to rein in the power of the richest man in the world.
DVD Verdict: Amazon's Jeff Bezos built a business empire that is unprecedented in the history of American capitalism - delivering endless products, entertainment services and technology innovations to customers with just a click of a button. But what is the cost of Amazon's convenience?
FRONTLINE examines Amazon and Jeff Bezos' ascent to power - and his ability to shape everything from the future of work, to the future of commerce, to the future of technology.
From award-winning filmmakers James Jacoby and Anya Bourg (The Facebook Dilemma), the documentary draws on interviews with current top executives and former insiders, as well as regulators and critics, raising critical questions about Bezos and the empire he built.
Through these interviews, Jacoby and Bourg's investigation presents an inside look at who Bezos is, and how he transformed a tiny company run out of a garage into a staple of American consumerism that critics contend is willing to dominate the market at all costs.
'Amazon Empire' also reveals a darker side of the multi-billion-dollar machine: worker exploitation, product safety problems, and surveillance.
As politicians and regulators around the world start to consider the global impact and threat of Amazon - and how to rein in the power of the richest man on the planet - FRONTLINE investigates how he executed a plan to build one of the most influential economic and cultural forces in the world and the real-world disruption that it continues to cause.
The documentary brings a nuanced look, pointing out both the good and the not so good along the way. It interviews both former Amazon executives and employees (who not surprisingly are critical) and current Amazon executives.
It is in the second hour that the film makers address the most troubling aspects of Amazon's seemingly incessant expansion, including Bazos' pivot into Washington (and his purchase of the Washington Post), Amazon's rapid rise into an industry leader for cloud services, the intrusive Alexa, and also its acquisition of Ring.com and the ensuing face recognition services for police and other law enforcement forces.
As an early user of Amazon (I bought my first book in 1996 or 1997), I have been fascinated by this company for many years. I didn't realize that Ring.com is owned by Amazon (not that I use the Ring devices), nor have I purchased the Alexa "personal assistant" device.
Too much is too much! If you are interested in the rise (and rise and rise) of Bezos/Amazon, I'd readily suggest you check out these two hours of 'Amazon Empire (out now from PBS) and draw your own conclusions. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.