The Neverending Story II: The Next Chapter (1990)

18 Mar


Smith’s Verdict: *

Reviewed by Tanner Smith

Every once in a while, a family-adventure movie will be released and fail miserably because of its showing to “try” and make a family-adventure movie. If you’re confused by that statement, I’ll put it this way. A family-adventure movie should store a moral—the moral in this movie is taken the wrong way. A family-adventure movie should have amazing visuals—there will be no amazement. A family-adventure movie should have a young hero—the young hero is an idiot. What movie shares all of these traits? “The Neverending Story II: The Next Chapter.”

This is the sequel to 1984’s popular fantasy-adventure movie “The Neverending Story,” which I admired for its compelling characters, interesting plot, and surprisingly-legitimate drama, as well as its amazing visual look and neat adventure elements. If you recall, the movie featured an imaginative young boy named Bastian who read a book called The Neverending Story and discovered that he will become the hero that will save a very real fantasy world called Fantasia from being consumed by nothingness. That movie was about ideas and had a subtle way of teaching young children to read.

The message is the same in its sequel, “The Neverending Story II: The Next Chapter,” but it’s all over the map. How so? Because people stopped reading books, the library in town suddenly disappeared. That’s sort of convenient, in the way that the actor playing the mysterious librarian is the only actor returning for this sequel.

This time, the young hero Bastian is played by Jonathan Brandis. And here’s the movie’s first problem—he’s not very good in this movie. It’s a one-note performance that requires him to be cheerfully dim and a poorly-written character who is a terrible role model for kids. This kid is such an idiot. If you think I’m being too harsh, keep reading. Fantasia will thank you for it.

Bastian, while thrust into Fantasia to fight the Emptiness (the human form of lost ideas), has the power of a necklace called Auryn to wish for anything. What he doesn’t know is that the Emptiness has created a machine that will erase one of Bastian’s memories every time he makes a wish. And right there, you see the big character flaw—he doesn’t know that! There are many scenes in which his and his best friend Atreyu’s (Kenny Morrison) life is at stake and he doesn’t even think about making any wishes. And when he finally wishes for a weapon to fight the Emptiness’ silly-looking giant minions, what does he wish for? A spray can!

And why was this kid chosen to save Fantasia? Because the Childlike Empress (even more annoying and dim than Bastian) knows he’s the most imaginative kid in the world and is the one who can save this world that can’t survive without the pure imagination of human beings. Well, that was in the first movie. In this sequel, they picked the wrong kid.

By the way, the Emptiness is annoying too. This time, it’s in the form of a woman who wants to—you guessed it—destroy the world. But then, where would she and her minions go? Earth? What are they going to do there? I don’t know and also, I don’t care because this woman is as over-the-top as any other over-the-top villain or villainess in bad adventure movies.

Other characters are back too—Atreyu, Falkor the Luckdragon, and the Rockbiter (this time, accompanied by an annoying rock-son)—and they make some good company. But the hero is unappealing, the plot is uninteresting, the message is taken too literally, and there’s no wonder here. Fantasia just looks strange this time around. It makes me wonder what the filmmakers were thinking when they made “The Neverending Story II: The Next Chapter.”

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