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LimeGreenLegend

The NeverEnding Story [XDBX Film Club 07]

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LimeGreenLegend

This month we are stretching our imaginations to the limits as we explore the worlds of fantasy.  The winning film is The NeverEnding Story, nominated by @Spinnaker1981, directed by Wolfgang Peterson (Air Force One, The Perfect Storm) in 1984.

A film about the power of the imagination, the importance of self-indentity and the awesomeness of books, The NeverEnding Story can rightly sit up there with Labyrinth and The Dark Crystal in the pantheon of awesome 80s puppet fantasy movies.

ACW3BKS.jpg

I haven't seen this since I was very young, and I can't remember much about it, but I do remember being traumatised by what happens to Artax the horse, and having the theme song stuck in my head for ages, so I'm looking forward to revisiting this and seeing if it holds up as well as Labyrinth does.

the neverending story win GIF

There up on a rainbow is the answer to our neverending story 

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Con

Don't ask me how i managed to miss watching this my entire life. Probably because I was too busy trying to watch the R rated films instead. I look forward to it as it looks trippy. I have a white dog, I wish he could fly me around, we'd be heading to the kitchen right about now. 

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Spinnaker1981

Just watched it. It was exactly as I remembered it, and nothing as I remembered it at the same time...

Big tits are shown in this movie, so watch out (that I did NOT remember!)

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Fido_le_muet
Posted (edited)

I was eager to see the aforementionned big tits but now that I've seen it I have to say I'm disappointed ^^ 

Review coming soon

Edited by Fido_le_muet
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LimeGreenLegend

Will be watching this this weekend, sad to hear the big tits were disappointing 

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Spinnaker1981
10 hours ago, Fido_le_muet said:

I was eager to see the aforementionned big tits but now that I've seen it I have to say I'm disappointed ^^ 

Review coming soon

They weren’t big enough for you? 😂😂

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djw180
Posted (edited)

I didn't expect to be impressed by a children's fantasy film; as I've said before I really do not like films with child actors in, and I was about as unimpressed as I could have been. It's not a good film at all. I can see how children of the age of the main character (I've already forgot his name) might like it for the weird creatures in it, but that's all. And trying to think back as to what I liked when I was his age, I really I don't think I would have been impressed then either. When it actually came out I was too old for it, in my teens, so never saw it till now. I do have vague memorys of "annoying kid, stuping flying dog, nice song".

The basic story could have been good, i.e. a magical book that actually puts the reader into the story, and I've no idea how close the film comes to the book it's based on. But for me the actual story was very, very weak. It was just a very basic fantasy plot; disaster is looming, someone has to go on quest, they meet weird creatures on the way, they nearly get killed, but in the end they find what they were looking for and they all live happily ever after. Nothing is ever properly explained. Why did it have be just one warrior on his own with no weapons going on the quest? Why hadn't they already sent lots people to try and find the cure for the empress? How was he supposed to know where to look in a world at least 10,000 miles wide when he didn't even know what exactly he was looking for?

The special effects are OK given when it was made, the puppets are well made and I do like the song. But that's it. I know as a children's film I shouldn't be expecting too much of the plot for me as an adult. But the boy tells the bookshop owner he has read books like Treasure Island and 20,000 Leagues under the Sea, both of which I read at a similar age. This story has absolutely nothing like the same quality as those. There is no way a kid who has read those sort of books, and proudly tells an adult he has read them, is going to be impressed by the book he reads in the flim. My wife who likes children's films; Paddington, Ice Age, Pets etc all among her favourites, described this as “a bit naff”. I would say it was worse than that.

 

1/5

 

Having done my review I have now looked this up on IMDB (I try not to read reviews there before I have watched the films for Film Club). One of the reviews does say the author of the original book this is based on did not like the film at all, that it cut out way too much of their original story, losing all the depth to the plot. I agree with that.

Edited by djw180
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Fido_le_muet

So review time! 

Probably won't be as long as some of my previous reviews cause I can't think of much to say about the Neverending Story. 

A bit of context. I saw it when I was a kid. I asked the wife if she wanted to watch it but she refused cause she remember it as being kinda crappy. So I watched it alone yesterday while ironing. 

It starts in a wonderfully 80s fashion way with the theme song blasting over the credits! Loved it, especially after the Stranger Things hommage I saw earlier this month. Seriously, can it get more 80s than that? I love 80s music. 

So, the story begins with a young boy, Bastien. We immediately learn that his mom recently passed away. Ouch! Immediately it's very sad. Didn't expect that. Now that I think about it, it's kinda like Bambi with the mom dying right away  Since it is a kid movie, maybe the director wanted to follow in the same vein? 

Anyway, we also learn that the kid is being bullied at school, and on the way to school by 3 little assholes who call him weirdo because he seems to be more into books and also a bit of a loner. Bastien is a kid who lives in his head. He has a lot of imagination from all the books he reads. It most likely makes him think of something else after the death of his mother. But he probably was like that before because he says he has read a ton of books. 189 or something like that he says later on. 

While escaping the bullies, he finds shelter in a library. The librarian guy hates kid he says but when Bastien tells him he reads a lot, the sneaky guy tells him about a mysteriously dangerous book that the kid should absolutely not read. So OF COURSE Bastien takes the book! This was all a little stunt by the old guy to make Bastien take the book. 

What's the deal with this guy? Does he enjoy sending little kids on dangerous paths like that? What kind of sick man does that? What a weirdo! Does it excite him to watch kids suffer? 

Ahem, I guess the real reason was that he sensed that the kid had a big imagination from all the books he read and that he could help the people of Fantasia. This is more likely^^

So Bastien goes to school but he is late (again) so he hides in the attic to read the book. 

And so we embark in the story of Fantasia, his people and the perils they face. 

The Nothing, an invisible force is destroying the world. The inhabitants go to the Ivory Tower to seek the help of the Empress. But she is sick and her sickness seems to be related to the destruction of the land! As Fantasia is destroyed, she gets sicker. 

All hope seems lost but apparently, a great warrior named Atreyu can go on a quest to save the Empress. But the great warrior Atreyu is just a child! We're doomed! 

Since he is the only warrior around, he is chosen to go on this quest. He is given the Auryn, the medallion of the Empress and off he goes. To the DEADLY MARSHES! Deadly indeed because, in a particularly awful scene to watch, his horse Artax dies swallowed in the swamps! This was painful. The horse slowly drowning, helpless, with the screams of Atreyu. Boy that was harsh. I don't know why the horse was sad cause it is said that those who are sad will die in the swamps. I'm not sure why the writers did that. Not sure they know themselves. I guess it was to establish a parallel between Atreyu and Bastien, the two of them suffering loss. 

Anyways, Atreyu encounters the Ancient One, a turtle who doesn't give a shit about the impending destruction of Fantasia. Seriously, she gives zero fucks about the situation. She tells the boy to seek the Southern Oracle. So off he goes on his quest again. He almost dies in the swamps like his horse but he's saved by the dog looking Luck Dragon Falkor. Yes that flying dog we all remember from our childhood! He brings our hero to the home of a couple of gnomes. 

From then on, I found the movie to be pretty straight forward. Just Atreyu pursuing his quest. The gnomes help him get back on his feet and give him advice to pass the upcoming trials. 

And that's where we get to see the famous big tits! But they're just the big tits of a statue! Disappointment! 

Evidently Atreyu pass the first trial and off he goes to the second one. Hehas to face his reflection that will show him his true self and that's when we realise that Fantasia and the real world are linked as it is Bastien's who is in the mirror. Over the course of the film, we see various weather events that happen in the book also happening IRL. 

Atreyu reaches the Oracle who tells him that only a human child can save the Empress by giving her a new name, a name that doesn't exist in Fantasia. It's up to Bastien to cure the Empress. Link fully established. It is a magical book! 

The Nothing consumes the Oracle and Atreyu ends up face to face with... The Gmork!! Seriously, this is supposed to be a crazy creature but it's a bad looking puppet meant to look like a wolf on steroids. Overall, the movie has not aged particularly well. Falkor, the Gmork and all the other creatures look pretty dated. I don't know what the budget was at the time but it probably wasn't one the most expensive ones. 

So the Gmork has been hunting Atreyu since the beginning of the film but it's done a pretty poor job at that. Only seen him a couple times before. Anyway, he explains that he's been summoned by the Nothing to kill Atreyu,  the last remnant of hope left. He attacks the boy but he's one shot by an invisible hit by Atreyu and dies in a second. What a worthy foe! Completely unnecessary character. He serves no purpose. The Nothing would have been enough on its own. 

Atreyu is once again saved in extremis by Falkor, definitely proving he's a luck dragon, just as the Nothing destroys Fantasia completely. Our heroes navigate space in the middle of parts of lands that remains (floating rocks). But miraculously, the Ivory Tower still stands! 

Atreyu finally meets the Empress, a little girl and apologizes for not be able to save her. She explains that she knows about Bastien, the little human currently reading the book and she calls to him to give her a new name! IRL Bastien doesn't believe what he's reading but he finally chooses to embrace his true nature and be the dreaming boy he's always been and gives the girl a new name. Oh by the way, Atreyu dies moments before while the Nothing starts to destroy the Tower. This brings Bastien to fully believe he's a part of the story. 

Fantasia is saved! 

Bastien imagines that nothing happens and everybody in Fantasia is alive again. Wonderful! Bastien flies on Falkor's back and greets everyone from the sky. Falkor tells him he can wish for anything so what's the first thing he does? He scares the bullies with Falkor and laugh as they hide in the garbage! 

Ahem, that didn't feel very Bastien like. Felt unnecessary to me. He could have wished for something else since he has a big imagination. 

Et voila, that's the end. It was a decent movie, not as bad as I remembered. Sure it is pretty dated now but it's a classic! I'll definitely show it to my daughter in a few years, should be one of the first live action movie she'll be able to see. 

A few things are useless/forgettable like the Gmork, the golem who eats rock (haven't mentioned him but he is useless but funny looking on his rock motorbike). The Southern Oracle does nothing. I don't even remember what he looks like and I saw the movie yesterday! 

It's a perfect fantasy movie with all the classic elements of fantasy : a young brave hero, a sidekick creature, a big doomsday bad, funny supporting characters, a macguffin (the Auryn, even if it useless), a princess and many trials and dangers. 

That's Fantasy 101 and it is good. 

6/10

Pretty lenghty review in the end 😄

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Spinnaker1981

Wonder if the sequel is better.... have to see that in the near future to compare... 

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LimeGreenLegend
Posted (edited)
5 hours ago, Spinnaker1981 said:

Wonder if the sequel is better.... have to see that in the near future to compare... 

Part III is one of Jack Black's first films :D 

 

 

Edited by LimeGreenLegend

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Con
Posted (edited)

The NeverEnding Story (1984)

As I was watching it, some of the characters looked familiar which told me at some point n the past, i did start to watch this but dont remember any of it and I think i know why that is,  you see when this came out there were other films with better special effects and I can see why a young Con would have opted to watch something else instead. Basically, I was watching this for the first time and I tried to remember that the film is 35 years old and not judge it by today's standards. So here it goes...

I knew this was a child's fantasy story but didn't realize just how young the target audience this seemed to be created for since most children wouldnt be considering subplots and narrative gaps. And i think that is why as an adult, I found the story annoying and the characters somewhat useless, except for the flying dog, Falkor (Alan Oppenheimer) he was pretty useful until he suddenly wasnt in the third act. But I want to start with the positives. I got hyped by the opening credits, just clouds billowing like i was gonna watch a documentary on vaping. I felt the child actors did pretty good, I really thought Bastian (Barret Oliver) was excellent and displayed solid emotional scope. Atreyu (Noah Hathaway) also did a great job handling the demands of the quest and I felt for him as an actor during those scenes in all that mud. I do think his performance was let down by the editing since you could tell he shot his scenes alone and ended up shouting most of his dialogue, as im sure he was doing his best pretending the creature was in front of him, but this made his interacting with the creatures of the quest a bit off. His audio would be louder than the audio from the creatures and that made some of those scenes jarring and I know I said I would not compare this to today's standards but i couldnt help but think that this audio issue would have been an easy fix today. I dont know, like i have said before, it could be that watching with headphones leads to these audio nitpicks of mine. The animatronics were pretty damn cool and besides the snail, I thought they conveyed the proper emotional cues, Falkor being the highlight for me in that department. I have to respect the vision of the filmmakers in the creation of this, I can only imagine the pre-production meetings where he was explaining what he wanted on screen...those projector effects were superb with Morla (Robert Jadah) being the standout, although the wide shots of Rockbiter (Alan Oppenheimer) were also impressive. I felt the bully scenes were strong and the bullies really did a great job being bullies. I enjoyed that they waited for Bastian to get out of the dumpster just to try and put him back in it. 

I found the death of the horse, Atrax represented the death of Bastian's mother and since i thought the two boys stories paralleled, this was a way for Atreyu to connect with Bastian more. Then again, I also thought the two boys were the same person just in the different worlds but more on that in my negatives. I also felt that the turtle, Morla represented Bastian's father, Mr. Brux (Gerald McRaney), as both are so disconnected from the situations and both seem to not give a shit about the feelings and needs of the boys. As you can tell, I looked for the metaphors and analogies between the two stories but more on that later. My favorite scene had to be when we meet Artreyu for the first time at the meeting in the Ivory Tower. I was enthralled by all the characters, the multi-face beings were superb and wish we had more time with them as it felt like that cool moment in the Star Wars Cantina. By the way I watched a video about this movie and I learned that if you look closely at the silhouettes during the wide shots, you will recognize, C3-PO, Chewbacca, Godzilla, and even E.T., you might have to squint, but they are there as the author wanted this world of Fantasia to be part of a larger already existing universe. 

I thought the cinematography was fantastic as every new setting had its own special quality and look. The person in charge of the set designs really took pride in their work and they brought plenty of ambiance to both worlds. That swamp of sadness was absolutely amazing to witness and will say that during some of the shots of the horse sinking, I thought the horse was an animatronic but I was wrong, they used a real horse for all those scenes, so give credit to the animatronics team as their creations had me wondering if that horse was real or not. I thought the effects were good for the year this was made, i thought the projection effects really worked well, the Morla encounter being the most beautiful and convincing out of all of them, not that the Rockbiter wasn't good, as the full shots of him really gave you an idea just how massive the Rockbiter truly was. 

Okay now some negatives. I know this is many people's favorite childhood fantasy film so I will try and be constructive. Keeping in mind that this was a child's story with origins in Germany (their fairy tales are darker in tone than here in America) and I would be watching it as an adult, there were still things that bothered me. I kept looking for the parallel in Artreyu's quest and Sebastian, I thought there would be things that Sebastian would help Artreyu with during the quest that would in turn be just as useful for Sebastian to do against the bullies and perhaps that was the parallel with Artreyu meeting the creatures which posed as obstacles in his quest----- but I felt this wasn't handled clearly as I would have preferred having Artreyu's quest directly line up with Sebastian's bully problem, instead what we get was a convenient way to resolve everything, all Sebastian had to do was say a name and he could fix everything and then get some wishes that magically help him. I guess I just wanted to see Sebastian get revenge by using things he learned from following Artreyu's quest. But in general, I just didnt like the story at all, mainly because of how convenient Sebastian's issue with the bullies gets resolved. I mean, the setup was that these boys posed a threat to a kid that was suffering the loss of his mother and that was heavy stuff...i needed to see these bullies get really fucked up. I guess its unfair of me to want more substance from a children's film. 

I also felt disrespected by the reveal of the Empress....now if they knew she was an adult in child form, why the hell would they mock Arteryu for being a child when they summon him to the Ivory Tower? They were like, "go away little boy" and the damned Empress is a child herself!!! Plus i just find putting adult makeup on a little girl so creepy. Im not trying to insult you pageant mom and dads, just my opinion regarding making little girls look grown up through make-up. Plus just that entire sequence when Childlike Empress (Tami Stronach) is telling Sebastian to just give her a name, it just comes  out of nowhere and just didnt work for me at all. I wanted to care but it didnt grab me in the emotion as I felt that it made watching Artreyu's quest pretty damn pointless since Sebastian held the solution all along.  i think if Bastian's problem had been having a lack of imagination instead of bullies, this whole ending would have worked splendidly. Him finding his imagination saves the day!!! Instead we get him getting a wish and he uses it to scare the piss out of the bullies and basically the rest of humanity cause everyone saw him flying the dog. 

In films like this I cannot help but look for metaphors and analogies but I was at a loss here because I failed to find how the quest related to Bastian and I felt a lack of this element is what separates this from other children's quest films I have liked more. How will Bastian learn to deal with the bullies, how will he get his courage? in the end it didnt seem to matter at all. 

In summary i think i watched this 35 years too late as my adult mind kept getting in the way. I liked the concept of a lonely boy learning life lessons from an adventure book but felt the narrative and characters were more of a miss than a hit. I felt the whole thing gets disjointed when its revealed that Sebastian holds the key to Fantasia's survival.....how and why does he? Just because he is holding the book? What was his adventure, skipping an entire school day hiding in the school attic??? Was the bully revenge at the end just Sebastian's imagining himself winning? And why wouldnt his first wish be to have his mother back? He didnt even make that his second wish. As I sit here looking for a grade to give this I ask myself,  if we removed the interesting characters and creatures, would the story hold up? My answer is a sincere, NO. While the characters are memorable, I didnt find them overly intriguing. But i think for me the biggest fail was the human side of the story. I didnt want Sebastian turning into James Bond to take down his bullies, but show us him standing up to the bullies with his newfound courage. They could have also given us SUBTLE hints sprinkled throughout Sebastian's world that the book world and his world could interact by more than just hearing their voices, that would have made the magic at the end more rewarding and would have had me cheering at the end credits, instead I was mostly glad the movie was over. 

neverending story page GIF

Final Verdict......2/5..... I dont think I could sit through this again unless a child asked me to watch it with them. I found it lacking that amazing story element usually found in this genre. I get that for the time it was made, the effects could easily had left a great impression on a young mind and the nostalgic element can be strong too, but sadly, I lack both of those here. Honestly i think it went down hill for me when Artreyu is asked to go on a dangerous quest but he has to leave his weapons behind!!! What the hell was that about, you summon the hunter and then ask him to not be a hunter? How about letting him take his weapons but write that he loses them in the swamp and then has to rely on Sebastian's imagination to help him along the way. Instead Sebastian is basically a spectator as all he is doing is reading the book 99% of the film and then suddenly is put in the game at the last minute and asked to win it all and save the day in one of the strangest ways possible.  I'm fully on board with @djw180 about this one, although I did give it a score higher because it was a great effort by the set designers and actors and filmmaker. The guy that wrote the original story, well he hated the movie too, so Dj and I are not alone here. :D 

Edited by Con
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Con
On 8/25/2019 at 6:57 AM, djw180 said:

The basic story could have been good, i.e. a magical book that actually puts the reader into the story, and I've no idea how close the film comes to the book it's based on. But for me the actual story was very, very weak. It was just a very basic fantasy plot; disaster is looming, someone has to go on quest, they meet weird creatures on the way, they nearly get killed, but in the end they find what they were looking for and they all live happily ever after. Nothing is ever properly explained. Why did it have be just one warrior on his own with no weapons going on the quest? Why hadn't they already sent lots people to try and find the cure for the empress? How was he supposed to know where to look in a world at least 10,000 miles wide when he didn't even know what exactly he was looking for?

Yes. I think had they put Bastian in the book and helped defeat the wolf with Arteyu, that would have made them flying through Fantasia more meaningful instead of what I felt was a cheap writer's way out by just handing out wishes, what merited the wishes? Did anyone ever say that whoever saved the Empress would get wishes? If not then why not offer the wishes sooner and make the Nothing ruin them giving us a better sense of despair than learning he has to travel 10,000 miles. And like you, I felt the quest was weak as he could not bring what made him a a badass, his weapons. This would be cool if he had to solve riddles or puzzles but as far as i can recall all he does is find creatures for his next clue and off we were with a little school attic moments thrown in for variety. I write my review before I read the reviews posted and I wasn't surprised that you learned about the original author also disliking the film adaptation. I think of films like Jason and the Argonauts and how the characters really had depth and true purpose and even with its outdated effects, just thinking about it makes me smile. This had that potential if only the pacing and storytelling was better. The third act would have been a better fit in a "it was all a dream" storyline. Where Sebastian would wake up and have Arty's courage and take on the bullies himself. Of course that wasn't in the original book either but would have been cool to see and they still could have given us the Falkor ride at the end, cause it was cool. I think the best way I can put it is that for me the film had flaws in every aspect except set design. The creatures were cool but the snail was distracting. Both stories had potential but both flop because they make Bastian the key to it all too conveniently. The dialogue isn't bad but its not expository enough to fill in the blanks....again, im fully aware it was made for kids but I wouldn't know how to explain it's message...i guess its just magic.  

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Smurf
Posted (edited)

My Neverending Story review. So this is a fantasy film that starts with a father   trying to keep his son into reality versus the fantasy world, as its affecting his grades in school & his punctuality. 

The kid, Sebastian stole a book which mind you he didn't return at the end of it, and started reading a story about a Land called Fantasia & the characters there in.

Anyways there was a thing called nothingness that was destroying Fantasia and making the Empress ill , she was seeking A warrior by name, I don't remember the name of the warrior so I'll call him T.

 they didn't want the warrior to bring any of his weapons which was kind of crazy because they gave him a fake gold chain with a pendant, he should of known they could not be trusted, after which they told him it would bring him luck. Then why not let him travel with his weapons, figure that one out for me 🤔 I dont even think they showed any of his weapons off in any of the scenes.

He then traveled by horseback to a place called Sad Swamp where his horse sank into the oil and became fossil-fuel, in the mean while being tracked by a deranged looking dog, but then being rescued by a flying sickly partially hairless looking dog named Falcor. It obviously never been to a vet in its life but then when I saw the old woman in the next scene injecting something into Falcor back I was thinking to myself anything will do.

T then had to go through two gates one was called the Sphinx, didn't realized both Sphynx had that big of boobies, T was not worthy of going through but he went through anyways 🤷‍♂️. The second gate was called the Mirror Gate, he just walked though and strange enough he was on the fly dog again, yup because why not.

T ran into the dog that tried to killed him at I could of been an oil tycoon swamp. The dog told the boy I'm  feeling weak, threatened T & jumped directly onto a sharp rock T was holding and x__x R.I.P.

Fantasia blew up into many little pieces but yet the castle and the empress were just fine, though I'm pretty sure everybody else were dead. Falcor flew through space with T on his back 10 thousand miles & so happens to find the castle.

Empress express that she knew all of the things that was going to transpire to T, but said he is not the person that was going to rescue them, and that it's the boy who would be reading the book. So here you see the Empress is being very manipulative and trying to invoke action from the reader to be a hero, after saying her name he did, and then he played God to recreate Fantasia, bullied a couple kids & frightening the people with a flying dog in the real world. Bada bing bada boom the end. lol Make your dreams turn into your reality.

 

 

 

Edited by Smurf
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Con
40 minutes ago, Smurf said:

My Neverending Story review. So this is a fantasy film that starts with a father   trying to keep his son into reality versus the fantasy world, as its affecting his grades in school & his punctuality. 

The kid, Sebastian stole a book which mind you he didn't return at the end of it, and started reading a story about a Land called Fantasia & the characters there in.

Anyways there was a thing called nothingness that was destroying Fantasia and making the Empress ill , she was seeking A warrior by name, I don't remember the name of the warrior so I'll call him T.

 they didn't want the warrior to bring any of his weapons which was kind of crazy because they gave him a fake gold chain with a pendant, he should of known they could not be trusted, after which they told him it would bring him luck. Then why not let him travel with his weapons, figure that one out for me 🤔 I dont even think they showed any of his weapons off in any of the scenes.

He then traveled by horseback to a place called Sad Swamp where his horse sank into the oil and became fossil-fuel, in the mean while being tracked by a deranged looking dog, but then being rescued by a flying sickly partially hearless looking dog named Falcor. It obviously never been to a vet in its life but then when I saw the old woman in the next scene injecting something into Falcor back I was thinking to myself anything will do.

T then had to go through two gates one was called the Sphinx, didn't realized both Sphynx had that big of boobies, T was not worthy of going through but he went through anyways 🤷‍♂️. The second gate was called the Mirror Gate, he just walked though and strange enough he was on the fly dog again, yup because why not.

T ran into the dog that tried to killed him at I could of been an oil tycoon swamp. The dog told the boy I'm  feeling weak, threatened T & jumped directly onto a sharp rock T was holding and x__x R.I.P.

Fantasia blew up into many little pieces but yet the castle and the empress were just fine, though I'm pretty sure everybody else were dead. Falcor flew through space with T on his back 10 thousand miles & so happens to find the castle.

Empress express that she knew all of the things that was going to transpire to T, but said he is not the person that was going to rescue them, and that it's the boy who would be reading the book. So here you see the Empress is being very manipulative and trying to invoke action from the reader to be a hero, after say her name he did and then he played God to recreate Fantasia and bullied a couple kids & frightening the people with a flying dog in the real world bada bing bada boom the end. lol Make your dreams turn into your reality.

That was awesome. How you summarized it is perfect. Things were too convenient at times and I felt that some of the story elements that they should have expanded on went to other stuff like having to sit through two Rockbiter monologues that only served to remind us that although he was a huge mountain, he was weak as shit at that point and basically had given up. Yes, the Sphinx scenes were a test of courage but probably could have been cut from the movie and we wouldnt even have noticed. 

Awesome review, Smurf. Make sure to visit the main thread since we are taking nominations for the September War Films (Sci-Fi) Genre. 

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Fido_le_muet

We definitely need more Smurf reviews 

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SINISTER120

Now I know where the band, Atreyu, got their name.

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LimeGreenLegend

the neverending story GIF

So the first thing that grabs you about this film is the theme song.  It's an awesome slice of cheesy 80's synth-pop and put me in a good mood instantly.  The visuals that accompany the opening credits tell a different story, all shots of surreal looking storm clouds, they look like ink in water, billowing and moving in a very unnatural way.  This is a nice contrast to the bright and breezy song.  I also noticed that there wasn't a credit for the book's author, but that's not necessarily a bad sign; Stephen King wasn't a fan of Kubrick's The Shining, and that film's amazing.

The film then opens with Bastian waking from a dream, books are open and scattered around his bed, so we already get a good sense of his character, a dreamer, head full of stories.  We get more character building in the next scene, where he is having breakfast with his dad.  He can't open a jar on his own, so he's not the physically strongest kid.  We also learn that his mother has recently passed away, so getting lost in books as an escape is a natural thing for him to do, despite his father telling him that he needs to get his head out of the clouds.

Next up we see Bastian, on his way to school, get jumped by some classic 80's bullies.  Really unthreatening, like, these kids don't look tough at all.  I guess this just helps to show us how down trodden he is, even these pathetic kids are picking on him.  They chase him through the streets, and this scene really reminded me of the foot chase from The French Connection, the editing, the camera movement, no music, just the sound of their footsteps and their breathing.  It was really energetic and snappy.  I never thought I would find a similarity between those two films :D  They chase Bastian into an alley and throw him in a dumpster.  This film really starts out trying to get us to sympathise with this kid, and for the most part I think it works.  I then got a good laugh out of the next part; Bastian getting out of the dumpster just to find his bullies still hanging around, "who said you could get out of the garbage?" and the chase continues.  I thought that was great.

He eventually gives them the slip by ducking into a bookstore, and we get an instant change of atmosphere.  The music swells, letting us know this is important, and the store itself is smoky and mysterious, books piled around the place precariously.  Seeing the books in his bed, we already know that this is the kind of place that would intrigue Bastian, and that turns out to be the case as he enters, and finds the Bookseller.  I really liked this character, and was sad that we didn't get to see more of him, because I felt a real connection between him and Bastian.  I don't know if that's the case in the books, but their names are similar (Bastian Balthazar Bux and Carl Conrad Coreander) so I wouldn't be surprised if there was more of a relationship between the two in the source material.  

Bastian starts off his conversation with Carl quite timid and shy, but gains confidence when he starts talking about the books he has read, like he gains strength from them.  He then asks about the book that Carl is currently reading, and he tells him how it's not like the other books, it's dangerous, and Bastian isn't ready for it.  He tells him "don't worry about it" and I loved that line reading from the actor, you know he wants Bastian to take the book really, just with that line and the look he gives.  Of course, the book is The Neverending Story, and Bastian does end up taking it, but leaves a note saying that he'll bring it back.  What a sweet kid.

Finally getting to school, Bastian sees that he's late for a Maths test and decides to skip it.  Smart kid too.  He heads up to the school's attic, which, for some reason is really creepy with skulls and suchlike.  The music for this scene is great, really mysterious.  It reminded me of the music from The Goonies.  Bastian settles down to read and we get a great transition.  There's a close up of his eyes, showing us all of his focus and attention is on the book, and it cuts straight to a POV shot walking through a forest; he's in the book.  This is a really effective way of showing how strong his imagination is, which comes in to play at the end of the film. 

We find ourselves hanging out with a group of colourful dudes, there's a guy dressed like the Mad Hatter who rides a giant snail, which turns out to be really fast, and a couple of other characters who didn't make any kind of impression on me, so I've forgotten them.  This is the first time seeing the puppets in the film, and they're...alright.  They're not up to the standard of Dark Crystal or Labyrinth, but they're interesting in their design, and there's a cuteness to their naffness.  This group are soon joined by Rockbiter, which is probably my favourite puppet in the film; a giant rock creature who rides a rock scooter, it's huge front wheel looking like a bulldozer.  

They all start discussing The Nothing, a force of evil that does nothing but destroy, leaving nothing behind.  Rockbiter has a great line when describing what's left after The Nothing comes, "a hole would be something, but this was nothing, and it got bigger and bigger".  That image of an ever growing nothingness really game me a sense of dread, and set the stakes for this fantasy land in the first scene we spend there.  Ominous clouds and a storm starts to approach them, so they decide to split, and we get a cut from a shot of the clouds to bright sunlight, showing us that we're now with the good guys.

These good guys are chilling in a gorgeous, floral looking castle, really great design.  There's more great design inside the castle, in the council chamber.  All of the people here have a distinct look, big heads, people with four faces, some guy was an elephant, great stuff.  These guys learn that only one hero can defeat The Nothing, "his name is Atreyu" and we cut immediately to Bastian, not too subtle, but this is a kids film.  It turns out that the one true hero is a kid, and the members of the council don't think he can get the job done.  

@Con had a problem with this, because these same people serve a child queen, but this is something that happens in reality.  You hear stories of people, especially historically, who wouldn't dream of being told what to do by a woman.  Except for the Queen.  I think that's the same case here; she may be a child, but she's their queen.  Atreyu doesn't mind this anyway, he's full of confidence.  He shows this with a great line, "if you don't want me you shouldn't have sent for me" with a fantastic strength in his performance.  He eventually convinces the council that he is the one true hero and sets off on his journey, accompanied by an inspiring heroic score over a montage of him riding his horse, Artax, across the landscape.  A little, subtle thing I noticed is that Atreyu is always travelling left to right, giving a continuity to his journey, making it seem like he's travelling a long way to a specific destination. 

We then see a secondary antagonist join the hunt, Gmork the wolf.  Honestly, this is the worst looking puppet in the film, but it was helped by the direction.  I get that they wanted Atreyu to have another threat on his journey for a bit more drama, but the character ends up being pointless and toothless.  More Atreyu montage follows, and we get a cute little moment that also shows how invested Bastian is in these characters.  Atreyu and Artax stop for some food while on their journey, and at the same time, in the real world, Bastian grabs his PB&J sandwich or whatever, and has lunch with them.  I also really like how animated and excited he gets while he reads, it's a nice contrast to how he is the rest of the time.

More montage follows, with the landscapes growing more fantastical as he progresses.  I particularly liked the look of the landscape with huge crystal formations growing from the earth, but we don't spend any time there, which is a shame.  This is intercut with quick shots of Gmork pursuing them, running through a forest, giving off real classic Big Bad Wolf vibes; perfect for a fairytale type film.  He still looks crappy though.  

Atreyu eventually finds himself in the Swamps of Sadness, which look great.  The mud looks thick and sucking, all of the trees are dead and decayed, an enveloping fog obscures your vision, and the only sound is the howl of the wind.  There's great atmosphere in this scene.  The music really helps too.  Tense, minimalist synths over a heartbeat like drum.  I noted that, again, they are moving left to right in every shot.  This is consistent throughout the film.  Of course, the death of Artax is harrowing, Atreyu's panic and his screaming really selling it.  The way he pleads with him to just not give up at the end was heart-breaking.  I think Con again mentioned something about how the swamps kill those who are sad, so why is the horse sad?  Maybe the swamps killed Artax to break Atreyu's heart, making him easier to kill.  Maybe?  Another connections is shown between Atreyu and Bastian here, where we see Bastian crying along with Atreyu after Artax is taken.

neverending story Artax GIF

Atreyu, being the one true hero, has to push on.  The way he struggles alone through the swamp after losing Artax is great, you really feel how much effort, physically and emotionally, he is expending on every single step.  He eventually makes it to his destination, Shell Mountain, which turns out the be a giant turtle, Morla.  Another of the better puppets in the film.  When Morla first reveals himself Bastian screams, which is heard by the characters in the book, showing us how much of a connection between them and Bastian there really is.  Morla turns out to be a useless asshole, being so old that they don't care about anything anymore.  They tell Atreyu "we don't even care whether or not we care", with Atreyu's passion and sincerity giving a nice juxtaposition to Morla's ambivalence.  Morla eventually relents, and gives Atreyu some help, telling him to seek out the Southern Oracle, 10000 miles away, placing another huge obstacle in our hero's way, in the classic tradition.  The school bell then rings, snapping Bastian back to reality.

Like I mentioned earlier, Bastian seems really quiet and almost sad when he's not reading.  It's now getting dark outside, with thunder and lightning, and this scares Bastian out of the creepy attic at first, but he gains strength from the book, saying "Atreyu wouldn't quit now".  This shows the same strength he seemed to get when talking about books to the Bookseller at the start of the film.  Bastian starts reading again and goes back to the world of Fantasia, where Atreyu is struggling alone in the dark through the Swamps of Sadness.  His weariness is clear, he looks almost done.  His situation is made worse by quick shots of Gmork pursuing him, getting closer.  The speed and confidence of his movement contrasts strongly with the sluggishness of Atreyu, making it look like he is really going to get caught.

Right at the last possible moment there is a light through the clouds, and just as Gmork is about to pounce Atreyu is saved by the luck dragon, Falkor.  The green screen in this scene doesn't look great, like most of the green screen in this film.  In most shots using it you can clearly see the outline around everything, which is something that really bothers me and takes me out of the scene.  I do like the design of Falkor, like if a dog was a Chinese dragon, but the puppet looks really shabby, and really out of sync when it talks.

Falkor takes Bastian most of the way there, which is a bit of a Deus ex Machina, kinda like the eagles in Lord of the Rings.  Why couldn't they just take Atreyu all the way there from the start?  Anyway, Falkor takes Bastian most of the way there, kind of negating the epicness of his journey.  He finds himself at the cave of an old married couple kind of gnomes.  I like the contrast between the two, one being a scientist, and one a witch.  I thought that was interesting, a contrast between the real and the fantastic, like the link between Bastian and the real world, and Fantasia.

The green screen in this scene, which sells the scale difference Bastian and the tiny gnomes, is probably the best example of green screen in the film.  The model work is also pretty good in this scene, especially the telescope, which looked like it was made of all kinds of junk.  Through this Bastian is able to see the first sphinx gate, which is a great looking model of a sphinx statue with big ol' titties!  Very nice.  

Bastian makes his way to the gate, which is surrounded by rotten corpses; the music getting high pitched, drums pulsing, much tension.  Bastian just rushes through, and the music swells triumphantly, even though it seems like he didn't do much.  Through the gate Bastian finds himself in a snowstorm, and there is a great visual of this huge mirror in the middle of nothing, snow blowing all around it.  The ice is growing like crystals, like the landscape from earlier.  There's more mysterious, plinky-plonky music as Atreyu approaches, and when he looks in the mirror he sees Bastian, and Bastian sees him!  I love this moment when the two characters see each other and we really see the strong link between between the two worlds.

Bastian is so freaked out that he throws the book clear across the room, which got a laugh out of me.  However, he is drawn back to the book, how could he not be?  He starts reading again, and there is a gorgeous orchestral swell when Atreyu walks through the mirror.  Back in reality, Bastian lights some candles, which adds to the climactic atmosphere, what with the growing darkness and storm outside.  Atreyu finds himself at the second sphinx gate, which is lit with a gorgeous blue light.  It is revealed here that to save the queen a human child needs to give here a new name.  I wonder where they'll find one of those.  The gate then starts to crumble, The Nothing is drawing closer.  Falkor comes to the rescue once again and whisks Atreyu away.

There follows another montage, but now Atreyu is riding Falkor, not Artax.  Still, he is always moving left to right.  As they fly we see a lot of varied landscapes, selling to us the length of their journey.  The green screen, however, lets it down once again.  In the real world we see that Bastian is still in the school attic, well into the evening, which is kind of sad.  Isn't his dad, or anyone else, missing him?  Outside a storm is raging, mirrored by the storm in Fantasia.  The electric blue light blasting through the black clouds looks great, but again, bad green screen.

During the storm Falkor and Atreyu are seperated, Atreyu washed up on a distant shore.  He looks distraught, having lost Falkor like he lost Artax, and the same sad synth music from that earlier scene plays.  He's the hero though, and has to push through.  He finds himself at some ancient looking ruins.  This set, like most of the film, is gorgeously designed, and one of the best things about the film.  Here, he's at his lowest point; he's lost Falkor and Artax, as well as his magic necklace, and thinks his quest over.  At this point the Rockbiter shows up, but this time he's alone.  Here we get one of the saddest scenes in the film.  Rockbiter starts talking about his hands, and how strong they look.  But they weren't strong enough hold on to his friends and stop them getting sucked into The Nothing.  "They look like big, good strong hands, don't they?"  Really good scene.

neverending story strong hands GIF

Atreyu somehow makes his way to an ancient, crumbling temple, another great set.  On the walls of this temple he finds his story drawn out, from beginning to end (anyone play the newest God of War?) showing the power of stories.  Gmork, the pointless wolf reveals himself, and, to be fair, this is the best he looks in the entire film.  He is kept in the shadows and we don't linger on him too long.  Even this evil creature is succumbing to The Nothing, saying to Atreyu "you'll be my last victim", acknowledging that he'll soon be taken by its all encompassing evil.  It is then revealed that Fantasia is a land made up from human imagination, and if that imagination fails then Fantasia will fall.  I think this is a great idea, welding the real and fantastic worlds together in such a strong way.  This also ties into what the Bookseller was saying at the start of the film, how people lose their hopes and forget their dreams, which leads to the slow death of Fantasia.  The wolf then attacks Bastian and is taken out in one hit like a little bitch.  Gmork needs to hang out with those shitty bullies, he's that useless.

We then see Falkor swimming about under the sea.  He didn't get killed in the storm!  He finds and retrieves Bastian's pointless necklace of no use.  There's then a great effect of The Nothing destroying the world.  We see a huge wind blowing everything away, leaving Bastian holding onto a tree, blowing like a flag in the wind.  How they did that was to tilt the entire set so that the actor really was hanging off of the tree.  I think it looks great.  Just when you think he's done we get another last minute save from Falkor.  I swear this guy is related to the Lord of the Rings eagles!  

So, Fantasia's been destroyed, which I was surprised by.  That's a pretty bold move for a kid's film, to have the bad guys win like that.  It also leads to some great visuals, the last few rocks that once made up Fantasia floating through the void of space, Atreyu riding Falkor through the black, distraught at what they see.  Somehow, the Ivory Tower of the castle still stands, and seeing that floating on a meteor is one of the most striking visuals in the film.  There is also a gorgeous score to accompany that reveal.  

Falkor expends the last of his energy to get Atreyu to the castle, where they find the council chamber empty and deathly quiet compared to the start of the film.  Everyone is dead.  Except for the queen.  Bastian finds her, and she has a real ethereal, otherworldly quality about her.  She's shot with  a soft focus, lots of direct lighting, like something angelic.  Atreyu is upset because he needs a human to name her, but he doesn't know where to find one.  That's where she says "you bought him with you" at which point it cuts to Bastian while her tower starts to crumble.  She explains what The Neverending Story really is; "just as he is sharing all your adventures, others are sharing his.  They were with him when he hid from the boys in the bookstore".  Meta as fuck!  I really like this idea that we're part of the story just by watching the film, and can see how that would really capture the imagination of children watching this.

At this point Atreyu is dead on the ground, and the Ivory Tower is nearly done.  The queen looks directly in the camera, like she's looking Bastian right in the eyes, and pleads directly to him for the first time "Bastian"!  He tries to resist, a storm raging outside the attic as he shouts "I have to keep my feet on the ground", but if you're arguing with a book, that ship has long sailed.  He finally realises that he really can save them and shouts "MOON CHILD" while the score reaches it's epic climax.

It becomes quiet, and we see Bastian and the Moon Child floating in total black nothingness, a real striking image.  She explains to him how he can save Fantasia, giving him a grain of sand that was once part of the planet and telling him "the more wishes you make, the more wonderful Fantasia will become".  His imagination, the thing he's supposed to be fighting against, is what can save everyone.  Suddenly there is light, and Bastian is riding Falkor through the sky, while some real peppy, upbeat music plays.  He's flying over Fantasia, and we see that everyone is alive again.  It kind of takes away from some of the stakes and drama from earlier in the film, but I'm glad the horse is alive again at the end :) 

We then get the real cheesy ending where he rides Falkor in the real world and chases the bullies from the start of the film.  I did get a chuckle out of seeing them hide in the same dumpster they threw Bastian in at the start of the film, but it's overall a pretty nothing ending, but I can see how younger kids would get a kick out of it.  It also ends with another cheesy cliche with the narrator talking about Bastian and Falkor's further adventures, "but that's a story for another day" (please give us a sequal).  

I wasn't expecting too much from this film before I watched it, I certainly didn't think it would be as good as Labyrinth, and it's not.  But it is pretty good.  It's full of great set design and imagery, and some interesting ideas, but it does feel like a much bigger story squashed into feature film length, and at times feels very rushed.

The puppets were wonky but cute, and the direction is decent, not spectacular.  I loved the soundtrack, and the acting for the most part really sold the story.

A really fun 7/10

the neverending story film GIF

 

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Con
1 hour ago, LimeGreenLegend said:

 

@Con had a problem with this, because these same people serve a child queen, but this is something that happens in reality.

Atreyu doesn't mind this anyway, he's full of confidence. 

What I meant in my review was that I disliked how Cairon reacts to the notion of a child warrior, he treats it as preposterous and meanwhile his own Queen is in child form. So why would he reject Atreyu being a child warrior. Thats what I tried to say in my review. Had Cairon said to Atreyu something like, " Although I know what children are capable of...Are you sure you are up to the challenge?". I had no problem with the queen being a child or a girl, not at all, it was more that if my queen was a child and some kid said, im the legendary warrior everyone speaks of, I might have given him the benefit of the doubt, i mean, Atreyu threatens with leaving them to figure it out due to the treatment he was getting. :D Like why give Atreyu a hard time about his age when your queen is even younger.  :D 

I didnt catch when they tell Atreyu at the tower that the queen is a child, I thought the only thing they tell him is that she is sick and if she dies, so does everything. 

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