Return to the ’80s Movies: The NeverEnding Story (1984)

As we begin the new year, you will be seeing some new series’ on this blog. I tend to mainly concentrate on music. Well, it’s time to mix things up a bit. I have been posting daily movie quotes recently. Now, I am going to try to do some reviews. To make things interesting, I will review movies that I had either never seen, or haven’t seen in a very long time. Writing reviews is not exactly my strong suit. I may not win a Pulitzer Prize for any of these, but I hope to bring back great memories for you. And I will try not to spoil anything. That sounds sill considering that these move have been around for 26 years at the very least. But, there may be movies that I review that you have not seen, and may want to check out.
Now, let’s Return to the movies. First up is…

The NeverEnding Story


Synopsis: A troubled boy dives into a wonderous fantasy world through the pages of a mysterious book. – imdb

Last time I had seen this? Never. And I don’t know why. I was thinking that I hadn’t seen it because I was too old. But, this movie was released in the U.S. on July 20, 1984. So I was still only 13 at this time of the year, and we still had HBO for a couple of more years. This just got by me somehow.

What I knew about this movie before watching it: There are 2 things I knew about this movie: The awesome theme song by Limahl (lead singer of Kajagoogoo), and the creature that you see the kid flying around on.

Okay, shhh. Put your cell phones on silent for the next 1 hour 34 minutes while I watch this movie. Oh wait, I need to do that, not you.

Review: The movie begins by establishing the fact that one of our main characters, a boy named Bastian (Barret Oliver), whose mother has died, and has a father who is a hardass played by Gerald McRaney of Simon & Simon (and some of you younger folks may remember him more as Major Dad).

Things don’t get any easier for Bastian as we find that he is bullied by a group of kids. Apparently, news of the Scut Farkus Incindent had not these reached these three little hellions, even though A Christmas Story marathon was just on television recently. Anyway, after Bastian escapes the dumpster he was just thrown in, the bullies go for round 2, and chase Bastian again. This time, Bastian ditches them by going into a bookstore.

It is in this bookstore that Bastian meets the grumpy bookstore owner. Grumpy begins to soften up a little as he learns that Bastian loves reading. A big book catches Bastian’s eye. When he asked about the book, the bookstore owner formerly known as Grumpy tells him that the book is “not safe.” After being lectured by a pain-in-the-ass father, being thrown in a dumpster by some bullies, and dealing with a grumpy bookstore owner, Bastian laughs in the face of “not safe!” When the bookstore owner is distracted, Bastian takes the book, and leaves a note saying that he is just borrowing the book, and will return it. He then heads to school, for which he is late. When he looks in the classroom, he sees that they are in the middle of taking a test. F**k that! Bastian heads off to a storage room in the school and begins reading the book called “The Neverending Story.”

Then we are transported to a land called Fantasia.

No, not that Fantasia! This one:

Fantasia is being threatened by a force called “The Nothing,” a void of darkness that consumes everything. The princess of Fantasia has fallen ill due to The Nothing. So, a young warrior named Atreyu (Noah Hathaway) is summoned to defeat The Nothing and cure the princess.
Atreyu heads out on this quest, and meets several creatures and character that help him along the way, such as the sneezy giant turtle Morla.

The iconic Falcor, which looks to be half dragon, half dog

and some gnomes

Atreyu goes through several trials. But, can he defeat The Nothing and rescue the princess before it’s too late? The answer lies beyond the boundaries of Fantasia. If you thought reading a Choose Your Own Adventure book was stressful, imagine what Bastian is going through as he reads this book that brings the term “Interactive” to a whole new level!

My Thoughts: Going into this movie, I thought it was going to be geared towards children. But, this is not the case. Even though there are children as the main leads, this is an outstanding Fantasy film for most ages. I think a couple of scenes may be too intense for very young children.

This was the first English language film directed by Wolfang Peterson (Das Boot, In the Line of Fire, Outbreak, Air Force One, The Perfect Storm). Boy, did he get his career off to a great start! The writing was outstanding. With this being pre-CGI I was kind of expecting the special effects to be cheesy. I was wrong about that. The special effects were great. Even though there were puppets being used for some of the characters, they felt very real. The gnomes, who were tiny, were played by real actors. Visually, it seemed pretty seamless to me when they were interacting with Atreyu. They only parts that seem kind of dated are the scenes with Falcor flying. You can obviously see the greenscreen.
One other issue I have with the film is that the ending wasn’t as strong as I had hoped.

Does the movie stand the test of time? Definitely! The story and lesson is timeless. Other than the flight scenes, the special effects are great. Some movies could learn from this movie, and not depend on CGI so much. The only other thing that could prevent this movie from standing the test of time is that the plot focuses on the fact that Bastian is reading this archaic thing called a book. This was back a long, long time ago when you had to flip over a page made of paper instead of just swiping a screen. It is pretty scary that a 6 month old baby could probably work an iPad better than me.

Worth the Return? Absolutely! If you have never seen this, it is definitely worth checking out. Especially if you enjoy fantasy films.

Rating
Four Flying Falcors

Well, if you made it this far, thanks so much for reading! Would you like to see more of these? How many of you have seen this movie, and did you like it?

Thanks to Forgotten Film’s 1984-a-thon last year, I have found a lot of movie bloggers, which I am now following. If any of you read this, and have reviewed The NeverEndingStory, please leave a link in the comments. I’d like to check them out.

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