- Movie Rating -

The Never-Ending Story (1984)

| July 20, 1984

I think that the best thing about The Never-Ending Story is that it is not, in fact, never-ending.  I don’t think I want to see a movie that is never-ending.  Even the best films have to draw to a conclusion, otherwise you’re stuck in an endless loop.  But in particular, this movie.  It’s not very good and so drawing to a swift conclusion is kind of an act of mercy.

The movie is a fantasy for kids, drawn somewhere between The Hobbit, The Legend of King Arthur and Zork with a production design that look like low-rent television.  Seriously, it’s plastic and paper mache.  I’m not trying to be too down on a kid’s movie for being this cheap, but after seeing the Star Wars pictures and then praising The Muppets Take Manhattan for erasing thoughts of how the technology was made, this one arrives with a clang.

The story involves a 10-year-old kid named Bastian Bux, a bookworm who escapes one day from some bullies into a neighborhood bookstore.  The shopkeep Mr. Coriander doesn’t want him there, complaining that kids these days aren’t interested in books because they don’t beep like video games.  But Bastian stubbornly insists that books are his life and so Mr. Coriander gives him a very special, magical book about a land called Fantasia, a world that is being swallowed up by a creature called The Nothing.  The princess of the land is ill and it is believed that once she has her strength back, the Nothing will be powerless.  So, she enlists the help of a kid named Atreyu to find a cure to bring things back into balance.

This means that he has the help of several kooky (and largely uninteresting) characters the look like rejects from Alice in Wonderland, including a rock monster, a screechy old man, and mad-hatter-type.  Where the story goes, you can guess.  The way that the kid reading the book effects the story is kind of predictable – though the ending is kind of a puzzle.

I’ll confess, I wasn’t interested in any of this.  The movie draws a world that is designed by a studio and characters drawn from a video game.  I can see how it might have looked on the page through illustration but in flesh and blood it looks crummy.  Curiously, I discover that possibly the reason that it is called The Never-Ending Story is because the ending sets up a sequel.  No thanks, I’ll stop here, close the book and move on.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(1984) View IMDB Filed in: Sci-Fi/Fantasty