Release Date: October 25th, 1990 (Germany)
Directed by: George T. Miller
Written by: Karin Howard
Based on: The NeverEnding Story by Michael Ende
Music by: Robert Folk
Cast: Jonathan Brandis, Kenny Morrison, Clarissa Burt, John Wesley Shipp, Martin Umbach, Thomas Hill, Noah Hathaway (uncredited archival footage)
Cinevox Filmproduktion GmbH, Bavaria Film, Warner Bros., 89 Minutes
“Ahh, but have you ever read a book twice? Books change each time you read them.” – Mr. Koreander
While I never saw this as being as great as the original film, I did like it back in the day when it came out. It’s been ages since I’ve seen it, though.
Ultimately, this picks up where the first film left off, which actually only adapted the first half of Michael Ende’s classic children’s book. This does take some extreme liberties, though, and there are still some cool things from Ende’s novels that weren’t properly adapted. Granted, some of it may be too bonkers for the medium.
While I think that the sets and most of the special effects are pretty well done, this still looks cheaper than the first movie, which also came out six years earlier.
Because of the passage of time between films, the kids were all recast. While I generally like Jonathan Brandis, I thought that his Bastian just wasn’t on the level of Barret Oliver’s. Additionally, I liked the spunk of the new Atreyu but Kenny Morrison also wasn’t on the level of his predecessor, Noah Hathaway. As far as the Childlike Empress goes, the new actress looked noticeably older, which was odd, as she isn’t supposed to age.
One casting change that I did like, however, was John Wesley Shipp as Bastian’s dad. In the original movie, he was played by “Major Dad” Gerald McRaney, who did an okay job but he was only featured in one or two short scenes. Here, the dad discovers the book and realizes that his son is inside it, trying to save an entire world. When I was a kid, I loved Shipp in this even more because he was starring in The Flash at the same time.
Overall, this is a much weaker film than the first but it isn’t a total dumpster fire like what came after. Also, there’s still enough here to enjoy.