on April 26, 2011
The Movie says wide-screen on the back of the box yet when I play the movie it's in full screen. Also, It's a double sided disc with the first and second movies in the series, the case says absolutely nothing about the second movie. As far as I can tell, this is supposed to be the first movie only. I would have much rather had a double sided disc with full screen on one side and wide on the other rather than the shoddy sequel the the original masterpiece. The movie is amazing but there is clearly a screw-up with the disc I recieved and case it came in.
on February 3, 2004
The Neverending Story (Wolfgang Petersen, 1984)
All we in America knew of Wolfgang Petersen in 1984 was Das Boot. How were we to know that it was completely out of character? His followup, The Neverending Story (and a smattering of films since, e.g. In the Line of Fire) have shown that Petersen has a far more absurd air than the brilliant, but relentlessly depressing, Das Boot would have us believe.
The Neverending Story takes that sense of the absurd to its logical conclusion. Thankfully, Petersen had snapped back to something resembling reality by the time he made the film after this, 1985's Enemy Mine. But for The Neverending Story, Petersen pretty much cut himself loose from anything anchoring him to the earth and took off in a flight of fantasy that is, at the very least, a little disturbing.
Someone wiser than I once said of such films that "if you see them when you're eight years old, they'll be great forever, but if you see them for the first time in high school or older, you just don't get it." (Thus, the continuing popularity of The Goonies has finally been explained.) I was in high school when The Neverending Story came out, so I guess my reaction wasn't much of a surprise. It was fun for what it was, though readers of Michael Ende's novel are likely to feel cheated and those with even a shred of subtlety are going to be beating themselves over the head for the movie's final twenty minutes.
Barret Oliver (D. A. R. Y. L., Frankenweenie) stars as Bastian, who spends his time getting picked on in school and listening to his father (Gerald McRaney, years away from Major Dad fame) talk about how awful it is to have an imagination. While running from the school bullies, he stumbles into a bookshop owned by a rather odd chap named Koreander (Thomas Hill, who played the president in The Nude Bomb, the Get Smart movie). He secures a book from Koreander whose plot is, in essence, the rest of the film (save the merciless moralizing at the end).
Despite said merciless moralizing, some of the things the beginning of the film imparts to the viewer are that it's okay to steal stuff from stores as long as you leave a note saying you're going to give it back, it's okay to cut school as long as you have something better to do, and that no matter how long you stay away, no one will come looking for you. (Is it a spoiler to say part of the end's moral is that these actions have no consequences?)
I'm sure those who were slightly younger when this came out have a decidedly different take on it, but take the advice of my ever-so-wise friend. If you haven't already seen it, you're going to sit there at the end wondering what all the fuss was about. **
on December 6, 2000
The book was not one of the best children's books I'd ever read. I was one of the best fantasy books I'd ever read. I remember being so excited when this movie was finally coming out- an actual live-action rendition of what I'd imagined for so long. But the movie was quite shallow in comparison, and designed for children. The book was designed for adults, though children would find it enjoyable. The sad thing is this could have been so much better, so much more true to the book and philosophical and engaging.
But perhaps the problem was this book should never have been made into a movie. It's uniqueness precluded smooth transition to the screen. Every chapter ends with,"But that is another story." It made you feel like this was real, and continuing on. This was further impacted by the merging of reality and literature that is occurring within the storyline (portrayed in the movie), reminding the reader and the viewer that they are actually reading and watching, just as the main character is, but the main character is drawn into the fantasy, and so maybe, just maybe, we can be too. This feeling however is largely lost in the movie form.
on January 21, 2000
This film is the illegitimate offspring of Michael Ende's exceptional book, and is something of a lukewarm affair. Despite being under the guidance of acclaimed director Wolfgang Petersen (who also had a hand in the script), it certainly cannot be compared to its inspirational source material. It is but half the original story, a fact which has enabled it to impressively leave out every single philosophical and moral comment that the book intended to make, and also prompting the novel's author to demand the removal of his name from the opening credits. Characters are shallow, dialogue awkward, and much of the explanation that makes the book so understandable and compelling is simply omitted. The whole thing is neatly concluded with perhaps the worst cinematic ending imaginable - a narrator's "they all lived happily ever after"-style voice-over, itself a gross perversion of the original story.
That said, what the film lacks in depth and accuracy it partially makes up for in its visual and aural artwork, with some of the most sumptuous sights and sounds ever to emerge from a German film studio. Each location is perfectly chosen, the sets are all well-designed and aglow with fairy-tale luminescence, thanks mainly to conceptual artist Ul de Rico. The (German-release) soundtrack is sheer perfection, the pinnacle of Klaus Doldinger's scoring career, surpassing even his award-winning compositions for "Das Boot" in terms of passion and atmosphere. Non-Germans, however, have to put up with a great deal of annoying synthesised dross and a diabolical theme song from Giorgio Moroder (said song performed by Limahl), though several key Doldinger cues (such as Atreyu's Briefing) thankfully remain to create a hint of the proper atmosphere.
The cast is fairly well chosen, though again for their visual rather than acting qualities (especially in the case of the near-androgynous Noah Hathaway, who at times is quite painful to watch). Surprisingly, the crude animatronic characters (for whom lip-sync is but an impossible dream) are rather endearing and, in combination with the scenery, provide a pleasant if not totally accurate rendering of Ende's fantasy world.
This is a film that looks and sounds great (especially the German version), with a general feel of quality and high production values (and costs - it was the most expensive German-made film at the time). However, anyone looking for a proper fantasy story of depth and emotion should look for the same title under the "books" section instead.
on January 9, 1999
The theme of reconciliation with dad that occurs in the Neverending Story might be great for all those kids out there with great dads, but for my kids whose dad doesn't reconcile/apologize for anything, I think the movie teaches kids they have to be heroes themselves and maybe then dad will come and everything will be alright. Do you know how hard kids try to make this happen? Let this be a cue to dad's out there to watch the movie and, if there's ever been a time when your relationship with your kid wasn't great, to go to your kid and apologize and get some professional help for both of you to really work it out.
on April 30, 2001
I have only a few words to say- The Book was WAY better. The movie is based on fallacies that aren't present in the book. It's only saving grace are the adorable and strange characters of Fantastica
on December 7, 1999
SO I'm watching it and thinking, 'It must be looped or something, How else could it be Never Ending'. Next thing I know BAM, it over. What a rip off...
on March 6, 1999
SO I'm watching it and thinking, 'It must be looped or something, How else could it be Never Ending'. Next thing I know BAM, it over. What a rip off.
on October 8, 2003
The quick and dirty is: don't believe the gushing hype from the other reviewers, there are many better fantasy movies and this one isn't worth the time.
The NeverEnding Story, while a unique creation, is little more than a thin and flimsy canvas stretched upon a tired rack. The basic story should be familiar - lonely withdrawn youth finds refuge from worldly troubles in a fantasy book, and through the adventures of the main character grows more confident and whole. All the necessities are there, including a central internal conflict that must be reconciled (the death of his mother), a handful of bullies that in the end get their comeuppence, a wide array of superficially unique creatures, obscure magic forces, a quest to save the world. The problem is that everything is so poorly thought out that the movie becomes an inscrutable connection of disjoint and unsatisfying moments.
a key element to any fantasy is the degree to which its conceiver has thoroughly thought out his/her conception. the grand daddy of them all, tolkein, did an unbelievable amount of behind the scenes 'research' for middle earth, so much so that readers can bore themselves to death pouring through obscure appendicies on the origin of hobbit pipe weed and other trivial and irrelevent details. the upshot of this is that everything is tied together and every creature and race draws upon a complex history, which gives the story itself a tremendous amount of death. nothing in the the middle earth books is simply there; everything is there for a reason, and everything was somewhere else and did other things before it came to be there.
In the NeverEnding Story (NES from now on) nothing has a reason beyond its surface, and the writing to connect the dots of the plot is terrible. our hero, atreus, is summoned before a motley and completely arbitrary collection of 30 or 40 strange individuals who appear to form some sort of world congress. the language of the scene and the acting of the characters is tremendously unconvincing, and it reminded me of the initial meeting between flash gordon and his crew and ming the merciless. flash was a terrible movie, but it was supposed to be terrible and campy, while NES seems to be someone's best efforts at a child's tale. after some verbal sparring atreus is given one inexplicable piece of advice ("you must go alone, and you must go without weapons")and heads off on his quest. He travels from short, absurd vignette to short absurd vignette, buoyed by an enormous amount of deux ex machina, the greatest portion of which is supplied by the funny looking flying dog (a 'luck' dragon) from the movie trailers. to give you a sense of the inanity of the plot devices, the dragon saves the boy from a wolf and carries him while he sleeps 9,900 miles towards the next plot point. when the boy wakes up, for some reason he has to walk the last 100 miles, but at least it only takes him a couple minutes.
On the bright side, The NeverEnding Story is a unique creation, full of vast lanscapes and strange creatures, and it does have a good message. i was disappointed with the creatures. while most are unusual, they are generally either the wrong size of present some sort of contradiction. for example, we see an enormous giant (the presentation of scale is effective) and later on an enormous turtle. we see an enourmous snail that (surprise!) travels very quickly, an enormous flying dog, and some very small people who are helpful. nothing has any depth, and (sorry if i sound like a broken record) the lack of substance leaves one hollow. whoever was in charge of the musical score goes way overboard by way of compensation; the excruciating orchestral backdrops (with the exception of the title song is appropriately simple and joyful) ooze so much heavy feeling that you'll be smearing the emotive goo out of your ears with an oar.
an outstanding alternative to this movie is "the dark crystal", created by jim henson of moppet fame. it is extremely well thought out, well acted and well written. all the characters have a history and all interact with the world as if they really belong within it, as opposed to the pasted on characters of NES. this grounding gives the story a strong foundation on which to build, enabling the culmination of the dark crystal to resonate with meaning.