NeverEnding Story, The (1984)

“Don’t you know anything about Fantasia? It’s the world of human fantasy. Every part, every creature of it, is a piece of the dreams and hopes of mankind.”

Synopsis:
When a lonely boy (Barrett Oliver) discovers a fantasy book called The NeverEnding Story, he’s transported to the world of Fantasia, where a young warrior named Atreyu (Noah Hathaway) has been sent on a mission to save the kingdom’s dying empress (Tami Stronach). Soon Bastian (Oliver) learns that his participation as a reader will play an essential part in the story’s outcome, and that he must have faith in the power of his wishes.

Genres:

Response to Peary’s Review:
As Peary notes, this “flawed” adaptation of Michael Ende‘s popular young adult novel — which received mixed reviews upon its release — is both “imaginative” and “visually spectacular”, and contains a positive message for kids about the importance of hopes and dreams. Barrett Oliver is sympathetic and believable as a young boy devastated by the recent loss of his mother and bullied mercilessly by his classmates, who finds refuge in books and fantasy; less remarkable is Noah Hathaway as Oliver’s doppelganger warrior, who comes across as appropriately handsome and plucky yet ultimately two-dimensional. More important than the performances, however, are the film’s stunning special effects, which effectively transport viewers into a new and exciting universe: while I’m less than thrilled by the rather insipid, puppet-like dragon Atreyu rides through the skies of Fantasia, other creatures — particularly the massive Rock Biter — are truly breathtaking. The dramatic ending (clearly paving the way for a sequel) is both exciting and heartwarming.

P.S. Because the film contains a number of “difficult” scenes — including Atreyu’s beloved horse dying in a Swamp of Sadness, and Atreyu being persistently pursued by a vicious werewolf — The NeverEnding Story seems most appropriate for adolescents and adults rather than young, impressionable children.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Impressive animation — particularly the gigantic “Rock Biter”
    NeverEnding Rock Biter
  • Barrett Oliver as Bastian
  • Many exciting sequences
  • The heartwarming ending

Must See?
No, but it’s recommended.

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