Literacy and imagination are two things that are in short supply in today’s society. Well, at least in today’s American society—I hear that frigid places such as Denmark have quite high literacy rates. That’s not to say that I find the Danish frigid, mind, simply the climate they live in. On the other hand, I can’t say anything on their imagination. Where was I? Oh yes, a clever tie-in to the 1984 fantasy flick The NeverEnding Story. Oh hell, who am I kidding . . .
♪ THE NEVERENDING STORRRRRYYYYYYYYYYY! ♫
We open on a son (Barret Oliver) getting ready for school in the kitchen whilst having a conversation with his (assumed) businessman father (Gerald McRaney). At first, we can hope our story follows the adult—but that’s all dashed against the wall when we find out that the son needs to get his head out of the clouds (definite main character tip-off). There’s something about a dead mother, but the writers didn’t care enough to give an off-screen death. Let’s say she fell off a cliff, hmm? Cue the kid chased by bullies into a used bookstore, toss in some good ol’ fashioned childhood theft habits, and before you know it we’re past the introductory exposition and into a school’s unbelievably awesome attic.
Our main character is named Bastion. Not Sebastian, but Bastion. Bastion, as in “anything seen as preserving or protecting some quality” (thanks Dictionary.com). Well, okay, according to IMDB (the panacea of film-ignorance) his name is actually spelled B-a-s-t-i-a-n. What, were his parents too lazy to tack the ‘Se-’ to the front? Regardless, if you have a good grip on foreshadowing, you can guess what this character’s role is in the third act. Especially if I told you that Bastian spends the entire movie reading a book called, of course, The NeverEnding Story, about the universe dying. This universe is Fantasia, and it needs a hero to stop the Nothingness from spreading throughout the land.
I won’t slightly spoil the plot any more than I already have except to say that . . . The Neverending Story is a tad bit more interactive than one is used to. And this is where the movie pulls out the big guns. There is a trope, called “breaking the fourth wall” (all credit to TvTropes.org for this one), where a character in a work of fiction directly addresses the audience or makes references to our world (you thespians out there might know it as an “aside”). Let’s just say said trope makes an appearance once or twice—and when it does it will trip you up.
The NeverEnding Story tries to sell itself as an enchanting tale of fantasy (I think I’m missing a “heart-warming” in there somewhere). And credit must be given: it could very definitely enchant the right person . . . of course, most of the time it just enchants the rest of us to sleep. My largest issue with this movie is that the execution does the premise and writ (okay, the writing’s not that good either) little to no justice. Trust me, the effects and storytelling are there, but the proper pacing? Not so much. But even in face of the of drudgery, this movie is still a good watch—especially if you were the kind of kid who’d spend hours curled up reading a book, wondering if there were actually worlds on the other side of the pages. In conclusion: 80s, fantasy, slow, thought-provoking, repetitive-but-awesome soundtrack, and Falkor.
[To achieve the full Neverending state, go back to the beginning of review and start re-reading.]
Galen Russell is an aspiring biologist with a sweet spot for the audiovisual. Currently living in Portland, OR he’s surrounded by loving friends and family who offer him inspiration every day . . . on a gold filigree platter. It’s hard to reach down from his pedestal, but he manages.