Do you remember the final scene in The NeverEnding Story when Bastian screams his mother’s name out the window to save the Childlike Empress? Do you remember how right after he screams what sounds like “MOOOOOAAAAAAAHHHHHYYYYEEEEEAAAAHHHAHAHAHA” (but was actually ‘Moon Child”) everything goes quiet and you can’t see anything? At that point, Bastian asks “Why’s it so dark?” to which the Childlike Empress responds “In the beginning, it is always dark.” Then she gives him a glowing grain of sand and says that it’s all that remains of her vast empire and that he can rebuild Fantasia with his wishes. She tells him he can have ANY wish he wants, as MANY times as he wants. So, of course, he wishes for a ride on the Luck Dragon, Falcor. It’s a great ending to a great movie from the year 1984.
One thing that was never made clear to my young mind was that I always thought he needed to have the grain of sand the Childlike Empress gave him in order to make the wishes. During my later years, I disregarded that (I mean, who can hold onto a grain of sand, glowing or not?) and realized that the giving of the grain of sand was a symbolic gesture, as Bastian was now responsible for making Fantasia into what it once was with the power of his wishes. He didn’t need anything to make the wishes…just his willpower and imagination.
This brings us, unfortunately, to 1990…seven years later…when Warner Brothers released The NeverEnding Story II: The Next Chapter.
If you’re anything like me, the thought of watching the adventures of Bastian and Atreyu (who I still thought was a hot girl at that point) and their friends continue with updated special effects gave you the first nerd-boner ever. I was super-excited to see the VHS case (Google it) where FALCOR was right on the cover, along with ROCKBITER and…wait, what? OH, GOD, WHAT is that miniature rock person in Rockbiter’s hands?! WHO is that tool riding Falcor, because it’s certainly not Bastian! WHY does the Childlike Empress have the same haircut as Luke Cage/Powerman from Marvel Comics?! WHERE are Teeny Weeny (Unfortunate name for a dude who rides racing snails, by the way) and Night Hob? WHEN did Atreyu become a darker-complexioned DUDE, and what does that mean about my sexuality? (Ignore that last part…)
In any case, the movie was put into the VCR and the watching commenced.
Say what you will about Jonathan Brandis, but he was not Bastian Bux. Not even close. Barret Oliver > Jonathan Brandis, at least in this movie franchise. In fact, every recurring character from the original NeverEnding Story was played by completely different actors…almost none of them good. The ONLY actor returning was Thomas Hill, who played the grumpy bookstore owner; Mr. Koreander.
The story, while it was borrowed from Michael Ende’s novel The NeverEnding Story, completely failed to live up to the first film. There are many glaring problems with the entire structure of the movie and its plot from the get-go.
The movie opens with Bastian making a mess of the kitchen when he hears his dad come home, who is presumably an architect. Is it just me, or does Bastian seem unreasonably terrified that his father is home? The entire time this awkward opening scene is going on there is a weird sitcom-esque song playing in the background. Skipping forward, the film next brings us to Bastian’s school where he is trying out for the swim team. He gets cold feet when he has to jump from a high-rise diving board and not only doesn’t make the team, but gets called a wimp by the coach and then has to come home and tell his disappointed father in person.
Remember when we were talking about how Bastian’s first wish from the first movie was to ride Falcor? You know, the LUCK DRAGON? Who can FLY? Bastian LOVED that in the movie. So now our hero Bastian has discovered, somehow, a fear of heights? HEIGHTS?!?! HEIGHTS?!?! This didn’t exactly sit well with me as a viewer and as a fan of the original movie. So, trying to ignore that major flub, we watch as Bastian steals the book from Mr. Koreander AGAIN after he hears the Childlike Empress calling out from the book for help, and runs home to read it. He enters Fantasia once more where we meet the villains of the film.
Xayide is the head villain and she looks like a cross between Lady Gaga and Jareth the Goblin King from The Labyrinth. Her goal is to stop Bastian from helping the Childlike Empress by causing him to lose one of his memories every time he uses a wish. Really? That’s your plan? Okay…so she sends the most inept of her lackeys to do it. His name is Nimbly, and he is an anthropomorphic bird-person who is the film’s Jar Jar Binks. He is constantly annoying and grating, and fails at his job. In fact, one of the biggest opportunities for him to end Bastian’s intervention is when Bastian first arrives in Fantasia and the two of them are on a boat in a LAKE OF ACID. Nimbly easily could have pushed him overboard, but instead insists that Bastian turn the lake purple, or wish for sugar in it, or wish it to be made of crystal clear spring water, or raise the temperature…or wish that ATREYU WAS A CHICK SO THE SHAME COULD GO AWAY. (Again, ignore that last part) The only other villains are Tri-Face, who is sort of an intel-gathering individual for Xayide…and of course her army of “giants” which look like retarded robots.
So while Nimbly is explaining to Bastian (who apparently has somehow forgotten he can uses wishes in Fantasia) that he can use the medallion called Aurin to make wishes, we suddenly remember that in the previous film, Bastian didn’t need any of that to make wishes. He only needed his will and imagination. This is problem number two.
The film progresses for a while, Nimbly creepily suggesting constant wishes, when the “giants” attack the city Bastian just arrived in. He resists making any wishes but then uses INDIVIDUAL WISHES to create INDIVIDUAL HANDHOLDS/FOOTHOLDS in order to escape. Wow. If that wasn’t enough, the special effects turn out to be horrible and the director decides to use footage of Atreyu riding his horse stolen DIRECTLY from the first movie. To top it off: Do you remember that the force consuming everything in Fantasia was called “The Nothing” in the original movie? That same force is now re-named “The Emptiness”. Yup, seriously.
I could go on and on about all of the individual inconsistencies and problems with character development and story problems, but you should check out the badness yourself. It’s worth watching, if only to make fun of it with a group of friends. Or to horribly scar yourself mentally and hide under your bed after you see Rockbiter’s baby, “Junior” waddling around like some insane baby from Hell. Or to watch in shock as Bastian MURDERS Atreyu after making a racist comment such as “Why don’t you go back home and play with your buffalo.” Yup. He actually does that and says that. Let us know what you think of the movie in the comments below!