Amazing Stories 2020: Episode 5 - The Rift (2020) - Reviewed

The first season of the new iteration of Steven Spielberg’s 2020 reboot of his 1985 television series Amazing Stories comes to an end with the season finale The Rift which circles back somewhat by serving another time traveling story.  Though the show already covered that ground with the first episode, The Rift still manages to be an exciting and fun effects-heavy entry touching on Spielberg’s E.T. and even leaves room for a throwback to Close Encounters of the Third Kind.  While the third episode of this new series remains my favorite, this was a solid way to close the door on the first season by ending on a high note. 

Directed by Mark Mylod (The Big White), The Rift zeroes in on young stepmother Mary Ann (Kerry Bishé) who is traveling with her stepson Elijah (Duncan Joiner) to see his aunt in Indiana after his father dies in combat.  Unbeknownst to the boy, Mary Ann plans to leave him in the care of his aunt before abandoning him.  Interrupting this plan is an inexplicable event involving a WW2 fighter plane coming seemingly from out of nowhere before crashing into a ditch nearby their vehicle. 

Coming to the rescue of the pilot (Austin Stowell) whose last memory consisted of a dogfight in the 1940s, the trio are soon besieged by the military led by agent Bill Kaminski (Edward Burns) who informs them of a time rift whose portal inadvertently transported the pilot to modern day.  Soon it becomes a race against time to try and find a way to go back to his own time before the rift closes and unintended consequences from the alteration of the spacetime continuum affects mankind.

Easily the most saccharine offering in this new series yet with familiar imagery harkening back to the filmmaker’s early extraterrestrial movies as well as his own fixations on the Second World War, The Rift is by and large the most overtly Spielberg influenced offering on the show yet.  Mostly a showcase for Kerry Bishé who is tasked with playing a troubled stepmom in over her head unsure of the right decision to make regarding her stepson, it’s a difficult role which she more than rises to the occasion for. 


The Rift calls for old fashioned sentimentality and elements of the Spielberg thriller including but not limited to that age old cliché of a character in hiding disguising himself in another person’s clothing.  Raiders of the Lost Ark, anyone?  Though clearly treading on familiar ground, the last episode of the new Amazing Stories is a welcome dose of Spielberg comfort food which can be trying for some but highly enjoyable for longtime fans of the director.  Yes it’s clichéd and isn’t the first time we’ve seen this kind of story from Spielberg yet it works for what it is anyway.  For my money I’ve really enjoyed this reboot series and am most definitely looking forward to what comes next!

--Andrew Kotwicki