DAVID BIANCULLI

Founder / Editor

ERIC GOULD

Associate Editor

LINDA DONOVAN

Assistant Editor

Contributors

ALEX STRACHAN

MIKE HUGHES

KIM AKASS

MONIQUE NAZARETH

ROGER CATLIN

GARY EDGERTON

TOM BRINKMOELLER

GERALD JORDAN

NOEL HOLSTON

 
 
 
 
 
An 'Amazing Stories' Reboot Lands at Apple TV+
March 6, 2020  | By David Hinckley
 


It takes about five seconds for a reboot of Amazing Stories to fully conjure the spirit of Steven Spielberg, who created the original 1985 series.

The new Amazing Stories, which becomes available Friday on Apple TV+, begins with a medley of Spielberg's greatest big-screen hits, including glorious bursts of light and a silhouette of characters soaring through the sky.

Spielberg has always said his first goal was to make popcorn movies, the kind with a great story, gripping characters, and fast-paced action, all leading to a conclusion that sends everyone home satisfied.

His 1985 Amazing Stories tried doing that for television, with uneven but generally good results.

The same seems to be true for the reboot. While there isn't quite the budget for a full-scale cinematic production, the 2020 Amazing Stories has a sharp, crisp look and much of the feel of a classic film.

As with the original, we get a new story each episode, and the first one, sure enough, feels like a slightly stripped-down version of an old film.

Spielberg has never had any trouble dropping a fantasy sci-fi element into a story that otherwise feels straight out of real life, and that's how this episode, "The Cellar," rolls.

Sam (Dylan O'Brien) works for his older brother's construction company, a startup that restores old homes. Sam's heart lies more, however, in having a good time. When his brother asks if he really enjoys being "a millennial cliché," Sam says, yeah, I kinda do.

But a strange moment, naturally involving a flash of light, changes everything. Instead of hooking up over the Internet, Sam meets Evelyn Porter (Victoria Pedretti), a woman about to be married.

More sparks fly, this time figurative, and soon everyone may have to make choices that will determine the rest of their lives. Oh yeah, and also accept this little sci-fi twist that no one was expecting.

Other elements help color the story, including Evelyn's mother Paula (Sasha Alexander), though Paula and others pretty much get squeezed out of screen time by Sam and Evelyn.

There's a delightful use of music, including lip-synched "live" performance and lovely scenes with recordings.

The story doesn't end up going exactly where some viewers will expect or want it to go. But the ending explains itself credibly, and few viewers likely will go away feeling cheated.

Amazing Stories is not, nor is it designed to be, another Walking Dead, where viewers commit for the long game and debate week to week what will happen next.

This is more like campfire stories, started and finished in one sitting, and now you're off to bed. It's not exactly mini-movies for the short attention span generation, but if you start with a full bag of popcorn, you may find it's just about right.

 
 
 
 
 
Leave a Comment: (No HTML, 1000 chars max)
 
 Name (required)
 
 Email (required) (will not be published)
 
NJPYW
Type in the verification word shown on the image.