Amazing Stories 2020: Episode 3 - Dynoman and the Volt (2020) - Reviewed

In the third (my personal favorite) episode of the new 2020 revival of Steven Spielberg’s beloved science-fiction television series Amazing Stories, we undoubtedly get the new Apple TV+ iteration’s most entertaining and enjoyable offering yet.  Prominently featuring a central lead performance from the great late actor Robert Forster, a sneaky homage to Byron Haskin’s The War of the Worlds and a fresh spin on the superhero origins myth, this is where Amazing Stories 2020 hits all the right checkmarks of the Spielbergian nostalgia driven subgenre ala Super 8 or Stranger Things.

Helmed by The Spy Who Dumped Me director Susanna Fogel and written by Ice Age screenwriter Peter Ackerman, Dynoman and the Volt concerns a strained but growing bond between a young junior-high student named Dylan (Tyler Crumley) and his cantankerous grandfather (Robert Forster in one of his final film roles).  Forced to stay in his son’s home following a work-related injury, the odd grandpa/grandson couple find common ground over their mutual love for comic books.  When an ancient relic in the form of a mystical ring bearing a striking resemblance to the Martian periscope from The War of the Worlds from the grandfather’s past shows up, a new take on the superhero film begins to take shape.

Far and away the most endearing and heartwarming episode of the new series with easily its most gifted and cherished leading performance yet, Dynoman and the Volt showcases the late actor’s innate ability to still deliver impressive work to the very end.  Most certainly the actor’s best turn on the television screen in recent memory since Twin Peaks: The Return, Forster makes the grumpy old granddad an engaging and complex figure we want to see bond with his grandson if only he could stop standing in his own way.  Supporting performances by child actor Crumley and the roles of his parents are strong but the inclusion of Forster in a crucial part elevates the piece to new emotional heights not seen in the first two episodes.

Whether this new iteration of Spielberg’s Amazing Stories is catching on with mainstream audiences or not remains to be seen, but for my time and money it has been a fun ride with this one being the most exciting yet!  Pure old fashioned Spielberg magic as if the mid-1980s never ended, Dynoman and the Volt stands out as probably one of the most enjoyable throwbacks to a bygone era defined by one of genre filmmaking’s greatest purveyors.  With only two more episodes left to go with the first season of the 2020 remake of the hit 1985 television show, it will indeed be very hard to top this one!

--Andrew Kotwicki