Jun 22, 2012

[Movies] The NeverEnding Story II: The Next Chapter (1990)

It's funny what we remember from our childhood. Case in point, I remember this movie a lot more than the original NeverEnding Story. Of course you can naturally blame age (or the lack thereof) for the fuzzy memories, but for one reason or another this sequel stood out a bit more in memory.

Or so I thought.

When I finally found the time to re-watch the movie again, I realized that even more supposedly stronger, brighter memories weren't all that great either. I certainly remembered significant scenes and of course there are the stuff of nightmares that will never leave you even as you grow into adulthood.

So now that quite a number of years have passed, I do recognize that I may have crafted a somewhat idealized version of this movie in my head over the years that didn't quite match reality. This is not to say that this sequel is all that bad, but it wasn't as good as the first one either.


Synopsis: The NeverEnding Story II: The Next Chapter is the 1990 sequel to the original 1984 movie. It was directed by George T. Miller with a screenplay by Karin Howard. The movie incorporates elements of the second half of the book originally written by Michael Ende.

English: The luckdragon fuchur from the movie ...
English: The luckdragon fuchur from the movie "The Neverending Story" at the "Filmpark Babelsberg" in Potsdam, Germany. Deutsch: Der Glücksdrache "Fuchur" aus "Die unendliche Geschichte". (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
We return to the protagonist of the first movie, Bastian Bux (now played by Jonathan Brandis). He's become quite the troubled and his father, Barney (John Wesley Shipp), isn't quite sure how to reach him. But he's also pretty busy with work and thus he's unable to support his son as much as he wants to. And it does't help that Bastian is dealing with troubles of his own like his fear of heights that he experiences during diving practice.

He eventually finds himself back in Fantasia due to the pleas of the Childlike Empress (Alexandra Johnes) to discover that the land is under threat again. This time it is something called the Emptiness, although the nature of this threat is not immediately clear. His new companion, the bird-like creature Nimbly (Martin Umbach), lets him know that he can wish for things using the power of the Auryn, the medallion that marks the book of the NeverEnding Story. But he doesn't know that with every wish, he somehow plays into the plans of the sorceress Xayide (Clarissa Burt).

Now in terms of my memories of the movie, I don't know why I remembered seeing a lot more of the likes of Falkor (Donald Arthur) and the Rock Biter - or maybe that was just the poster image. Instead we see very little of them and up with with way too much of Bastian being a jerk - an imagine that Jonathan Brandis carried with him when he joined the cast of SeaQuest DSV, in my opinion.

So it's bad enough that Bastian is no longer the boy that we want to be like in the first movie, but here the new Atreyu seemed to lack the sheer on-screen presence that the original did. Thus put the two together and you have a rather lackluster pair of heroic leads together with an annoying bird sidekick in the form of Nimbly. You can see where I'm going here.

To be fair, I really liked the concept behind Xayide's plan and her insect-like giant warriors were pretty scary. Now there's an image that I'll never be able to erase from my head. Those are the sorts of images that really get burned into your consciousness and you wonder if such fearsome creatures will come bursting out of the ground to grab you sooner or later.

Plus given this was based on the second half the book - the need to have a "new" enemy in the form of the Emptiness (versus the Nothing in the first movie), really made this all feel like a weird rehash of things. In other words, it actually felt like your your stereotypical sequel. There was the blatant effort to take elements of the first movie that were supposedly received well by audiences and cram them back into a story that is similar yet different. But when such economically-driven interests take the lead instead of the quality of the story or the integrity of the plot, well, this happens.

And I really feel bad. The first movie was such an amazing experience that I feel still stands the test of time. This sequel feels like a pale shadow of that first attempt.

The NeverEnding Story II: The Next Chapter is your stereotypical sequel through and through. And I mean that in every possible bad way possible. So I can only rate it as 2 annoy little warriors in eggs out of a possible 5.




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