Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Film Review: THE NEVERENDING STORY II: THE NEXT CHAPTER (1990, George Miller)
Stars: 3 of 5.
Running Time: 89 minutes.
Notable Cast or Crew: Jonathan Brandis (SEAQUEST, LADYBUGS), Kenny Morrison, John Wesley Shipp (DAWSON'S CREEK, THE FLASH), theme by Giorgio Moroder (OVER THE TOP, FLASHDANCE, CAT PEOPLE).
Tag-lines: "Begin an all new adventure as a young boy returns to a world of wonder on the wings of his imagination."
Best one-liner: "Ahh, but have you ever read a book twice? Books change each time you read them."
While largely 'just alright,' THE NEVERENDING STORY II: THE NEXT CHAPTER gets some extra points for nearly duplicating the hazy, entrancingly magical atmosphere of the original while not possessing any of the original actors, save for Koreander, the mysterious bookseller (Thomas Hill). Our new Bastian, Jonathan Brandis (R.I.P.) makes up in charisma what he lacks in acting chops;
and his dad, Barney (John Wesley Shipp), has a sort of bad 80's faux-Bruce Campbell charm that makes him immensely watchable.
The film's heart is in the right place, too, (which is more than can be said for the third installment), and it tackles, like part one, some semi-weighty issues for kids, such as the destructive power of existential, unimaginative 'nothingness' and the importance of memories as perhaps your only possession of any real worth. All this, and it looks a helluva lot like David Bowie's "Ashes to Ashes" music video, so score some points for it in the camp column.
There's mind-blowing costumes; whacked-out creatures; vaginal-looking monsters; a zany bird-man that could be Howard the Duck's cousin; and Rockbiter's utterly macabre son, Rockbiter Junior.
There's an amazing character development scene at the beginning where Bastian freaks out and spills a lot of different things in the kitchen. 'Whoa! Look at this unfocused kid, spilling things! He needs to learn some serious life lessons!' And the big denouement involves slow-motion leaping (and truly the 80's were the decade of slow-motion leaping, if nothing else), so that's definitely a good thing. Fun, fanciful, and more than capable of inducing a few good spit-takes, so I gotta give this thing three stars.