Let your mind wander to your past. Think of your most beloved childhood pet. Thinking about it yet? Good memories, right? Remember all the FUN you had? How you looked to it for comfort and joy?
Now…imagine someone HOLDING YOU DOWN and RAPING that pet in front of you for what seems like FOREVER. Until it dies. You think it’s over, right? Nope…the pet rapist just defecated ALL OVER the pet’s cooling corpse.
This analogy is much like watching The NeverEnding Story III: Escape From Fantasia…in this case, the beloved pet being the original NeverEnding Story movie and the rapist being whoever came up with this terrible, terrible film. You will wince, you will probably (as happened to a good friend of mine whom I showed a clip to of Rockbiter singing ‘Born To Be Wild’…yes, that is an entire SCENE in the movie) feel heart-attack-related symptoms. You will grow angry. Then, you will just grow sad.
This “installment” of the franchise makes a huge departure from the previous two films in that the story is not derived from Michael Ende’s novel; The NeverEnding Story. Rather, the scriptwriters and director decided it would be a good idea to take our beloved characters and twist them into somewhat-familiar, inbred duplicates who are nothing like their original counterparts. Here is a rundown of the changes:
- Atreyu is NOWHERE to be found, although in the first two films Bastian forms a friendship with him. I guess he was probably laying low since Bastian, y’know, murdered him in the second movie before wishing him back to life. So, no Atreyu or Artax. Lame.
- Engywook and Urgl are back (the two gnomes from the first film) and for the MOST part (Somehow they picked up Irish accents), they were kept intact although they were greatly diminished in size. In the first film, they were a bit smaller than Atreyu but not by a whole lot. In THIS movie, both Engywook and Urgl could ride on Bastian’s shoulder if they wanted. I don’t understand the writers’ or director’s reasoning behind including those characters in the movie. They essentially served no purpose, aside from answering a couple of Bastian’s questions.
- Remember mighty and noble Falcor, the Luckdragon? Well, in THIS movie…imagine a heavy-drinking Falcor who can’t do anything right…is easily-scared and whines about EVERYTHING…and talks like he has Down Syndrome. Yep, they totally screwed Falcor, the flagship character.
- Remember Rockbiter? Sure, his voice changed and he ended up having a random child, Junior, in the second movie…but in THIS movie he has greatly changed appearance and has picked up a weird voice and a crazy Russian accent. Junior is scarier than ever, to boot. Also, you get to meet Mrs. Rockbiter, who also sports a Russian accent and wears curlers in her “hair”. Yep, a rock monster wearing curlers. Did I mention that they watch TV, and that during their intro sequence, there is a rock person (Who I assumed was Rockbiter) singing about getting high (or that’s what it seemed like to me)?
- The Childlike Empress in this movie is looking less child-like (and more like someone Chris Hansen would use in his show to bring in the pervs) and is a LOT more bitchy than her previous two counterparts.
- There is a NEW character introduced…a Bark Troll. He seems to have a Brooklyn accent, and an extensive knowledge of all things Earth. (Yep…he mentions wanting to ‘Go To Vegas’ at one point). In the previous two films, residents of Fantasia showed a lack of knowledge of Earth’s customs and even figures of speech.
- Bastian’s father apparently picked up amnesia because HE DOESN’T REMEMBER ANYTHING HE EXPERIENCED IN THE SECOND FILM! Their relationship is still flawed as ever, and he doesn’t seem to remember anything about the book or reading about the characters in Fantasia. (He is also a different actor, for the third time in a row)
With all that out of the way, let’s move on to the set-up:
In this movie, Bastian and his father move after his dad marries a divorced woman who has a daughter. They move into the new mom’s house and Bastian is immediately disliked by his new sister. He goes to school and meets up with Jack Black and his gang, who are called The Nasties. They are the villains in the film. Great name and great movie villain, right? (LOL!) Fleeing from the gang, Bastian ends up in the library where he runs into MR. KOREANDER from the first two films, but played by a different actor. (Wow, even that guy jumped ship after the second movie, right?) The bullies are looking for Bastian so he decides to use the book to get into Fantasia once again.
At this point, our hero hiding like a HUGE WUSS (Did I mention he is played by Jason James Richter, the kid from Free Willy?!) the Nasties burst into the library and find The NeverEnding story and SOMEHOW, EVEN THOUGH IT IS NEVER REALLY SHOWN HOW OR WHY, gain control over Fantasia THROUGH the book. In order to save Fantasia, Bastian must go back to the real world and get the book back from The Nasties. However, the teleportation gets botched when Junior shows up and Falcor, Bastian, Junior, Engywook, Urgl and the Bark Troll end up split up in the real world. Falcor is just flying around like an idiot, Junior ends up on Mount Rushmore, Bastian ends up at home (lucky, eh?), Engywook and Urgl end up in NOME, ALASKA….and the Bark Troll ends up near a logging operation. They all find their way back to Bastian.
Bastian’s new sister, Nicole (played by Melody Kay, whose most recent work is as a bridesmaid in one episode of the show ‘Yes, Dear” in 2004), steals Aurin from Bastian’s room after Bastian just leaves it out where anyone can get it and then the Nasties get their hands on it. The “heroes” of the film must work together to get it back and save both the real world AND Fantasia…with a karate scene. With the Free Willy kid. Yep. Wow.
Despite the NUMEROUS plot holes, bad set-up, terrible special effects and acting, lousy character interpretations, continuity problems and the absence of the NeverEnding Story theme by Limahl…Jack Black turns in a pretty decent performance on his part. Someone compiled a list of ONLY Jack Black scenes on the interwebs, and it is a lot more satisfying than the actual movie. Still, NeverEnding Story III is worth seeing just so you can say that you saw it. In fact, others will know you’ve seen it because they will see that look in your eye. You’ll get a knowing nod, a slight shake of the head. “You’ve seen it, too. You know the pain.”
Let us know what you think of the movie in the comment section below! Until next time….