The NeverEnding Story II: The Next Chapter (1990)
Directed by George Miller

Artistic & Entertainment Value
* ½

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A young boy named Bastian (Jonathan Brandis) finds a mysterious book that transports him to the magical land of Fantasia, which, thanks to the machinations of the evil witch Xayide (Clarissa Burt), is being consumed by the Emptiness.

George Miller's The NeverEnding Story II: The Next Chapter is an utterly dreadful film.

The story the director tells is consistently trite, nauseatingly sweet, and usually boring. Bastian's difficulties with his father and the latter's search for his missing son are so falsely heartwarming they are more likely to repulse the viewer than to touch him. The young protagonist's interactions with the adorable creatures he meets in Fantasia are, however, even worse. Over the film's course, Bastian makes friends, succumbs to Xayide's insidious tricks, betrays those who care for him, learns from his mistakes, and does the right thing in the end. Not surprisingly, all these developments are handled in such a treacly, predictable way they are just revolting.

Fortunately, a number of the film's set designs are attractive and do lend the movie a certain visual appeal. The often lavish and inventively realized backdrops used to give life to the landscapes of Fantasia are particularly nice. The director has, however, also made use of several tacky, completely uninspired sets and countless gaudy, falsely quaint costumes that greatly detract from the film's beauty. Whatever the virtues of its sets, the movie's less inspired visual elements give much of it a crude tawdriness.

The quality of the acting is even worse. There is not a performer who appears in the film who displays even a modicum of talent. Admittedly, the script they were given is so overdone, so cloying, and so ridiculous that, even had they been more skilled, their performances would still have been laughable. Nonetheless, the ineptitude of the actors only makes such weaknesses more glaring.

The NeverEnding Story II: The Next Chapter is a painfully boring, crudely manipulative, and disgustingly saccharine movie that really is best avoided.

Review by Keith Allen

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