Today I watched George T. Miller’s The NeverEnding Story II: The Next Chapter (1990)
From the very title, the amount of creative effort in this film is apparent. This first impression is further reinforced with one of the laziest opening credit sequences which give way to a re-cast Bastian Bux engaging in some very uninspired slapstick antics in his kitchen. After his marvelous adventure and dragon riding antics from the last movie, Bastian is back to being a total dork who is afraid of heights; truly this is the definition of character development. His life is still lame so he goes back to that old book store and hears a calling from that most austere of tomes, The NeverEnding Story. The world of Fantasia is in peril again, this time a powerful sorceress named Xayide is destroying the world with her army of giants. Xayide’s real plan however, is to force Bastian to use wishes granted to him by his amulet, AURYN, which will in turn cause him to lose his memories. So it’s up to not just Bastian but his old friend Atreyu and the luck dragon Falcor to uncover Xayide’s fell sorcery and save the world.
Like I said, this film comes across as very uninspired. Yet, it had a great foundation to build itself off of, the first film had only adapted the first half of the original novel and the second half has some real crazy stuff in it. This film’s adaptation of that second half is extremely loose and fails to hit on any of it’s themes, again a film that looks for easy ways out of any possible dramatic situation. The only hints of effort beyond the necessary amount to finish any film can be found in the art design, which has some interesting moments and disturbing enemies. But if you are going to show your kids something heavy like this, maybe stick with a good film like the original.
Along with the afformentioned issues, the cast here is just bad. Everyone is distractingly recast with actors who look nothing like the originals and they just fail at reciting their admittedly trite dialogue. While kids may very well enjoy this film, there is so much else out there that they could be watching. It’s just a lazy movie that avoids the themes of it’s source material, the tone of the original, and most damningly, the drama of the situation. It all flies by so fast, the film is just setup and climax, continuing the theme of a lack of effort and with that I think I have put more than enough effort into this review. 1/5