I’m talking about the movie here, not the book, although this may apply to the book too, for all I know. I loved The Neverending Story when I was a kid. LOVED. I sobbed my eyes out when Atreyu’s beautiful white horse sank into the mud, and my brother and I desperately wanted a “puppy dog dragon” of our very own. I had such fond memories of that dragon, I actually named a laptop after him.
In the spirit of childhood nostalgia, I tried to watch the movie on DVD this week. It did not go well.
Here’s my first problem with the film. Bastian is the protagonist, and the filmmakers want us to sympathize with him. So they give him a dead mother. And a distant, unsupportive father. And trouble with his teachers. AND bullies. What they don’t give us is personality – a reason to actually like this kid. He is as bland white flour, and his entire contribution to the plot seems to be… reading a book.
Not standing up for himself, or grappling with his problems, or in any other way taking action. Just… reading a book. And while I would rather read a book than practically anything in the world, watching someone else do it is less than thrilling.
And then the movie shifted into the world of the book. And it did not get better.
Granted, these were some pretty amazing special effects in the 80s. But special effects can’t replace characters we care about. And while there are creatures here, none of them have any character. I was having a hard time caring that they or their world was going to be swallowed by the nothing.
Then my DVD started to skip and the soundtrack cut out. The inability to continue watching it did not upset me.
Is this another one of those movies that is only awesome in the 80s… or when you’re 8? If I’m totally missing something here, let me know!