Sunday, April 10, 2011

The Stories are Amazing, But You May Be Less Than Amazed: "Amazing Stories: Book One" (1992)



Two episodes from the short-lived 1980's fantasy television series are cobbled together and released as a feature length film. The two episodes, reviewed individually, are:

The Mission (Directed by Steven Spielberg) ***
During WWII, a bomber departs on its twenty-fourth and final mission. Among those aboard are the captain (Kevin Costner), Static (Kiefer Sutherland) the radio operator, and amateur cartoonist Jonathan (Casey Siemaszko), the belly turret gunner and the crew's lucky charm. The mission is successful, but Jonathan gets stuck in the underside gunner's bubble after the aircraft collides with an enemy plane. The landing gear is destroyed, and the crew tries to get Jonathan out of the plexiglas and aluminum cage before the plane lands and kills him.

This episode does have quite a lot of suspense and emotion, but the whimsical finale takes away all of the tension. The cast is very good, but Spielberg tries to do too much with obvious indoor sets. A nice way to blow forty-five minutes, but not much else. If you are quick, you can spot Anthony LaPaglia as an airplane mechanic.

The Wedding Ring (Directed by Danny DeVito) ****
Rhea Perlman is Lois, a mousy diner waitress who lets her boss and co-worker walk all over her. She is celebrating her ten year anniversary with almost equally mousy husband Herbert (Danny DeVito), who works in an Atlantic City wax museum. Forgetting their anniversary, Herbert steals a ring from the Black Widow display and gives it to Lois. He doesn't realize that the ring is authentic, and Lois is turned into a sex maniac bent on murder.

The funnier of the two episodes has DeVito and Perlman's unquestionable chemistry, some funny ideas, and a perfect running time of about thirty-five minutes. This episode also suffers from John Williams' overly enthusiastic musical score.
 
I am going to give the video three stars but I still recommend it. Executive producer Spielberg wrote the stories for the two episodes, and has an undeniable love for the fantastic anthology genre. Other "Amazing Stories" 'films' followed, but at only seventy minutes, you get an okay way to kill some time.  (* * *) out of five stars. Get this collection right now!: Amazing Stories: Season 1