Sunday, December 23, 2007

The Neverending Story

I really wish I had it in me to be more nostalgic. As it is, I’m generally a little afraid to rewatch anything I enjoyed as a child for fear of the sad revelation that I had crap taste back in the day. This one doesn’t quite count, as I’d only seen it once before in class back in elementary school (yay for public schooling!), but I do vaguely remember having liked it, even if I couldn’t remember anything more than the goofy dog-like dragon and the 80s synth pop theme song. With such a prestigious pedigree there, of course, it was only natural that I had to check this one out again.

To be sure, it starts off fairly promising. We get an opening theme song that is just delightfully awful in that way that we just haven’t seen since the 80s (a check on IMDB tells me that it was done by the lead singer for Kajagoogoo, so there you are), and then we’re treated to a nice and swift beginning that establishes that the main character is a) lonely and isolated, b) without a mother, c) an avid reader, and d) prone to drifting into his own little fantasy world. Not even fifteen minutes into the film, we’ve already delved into the fantasy world in the book he swipes, as director Wolfgang Peterson (whose previous film, Das Boot, was much, much better than this) clearly understands we’re not looking for a lengthy preamble here. Unfortunately, he did not understand the intense difficulty of making a good film with child actors, and the two leads (Barret Oliver as Bastion, the “real world” boy, and Noah Hathaway as Atreyu, the “fantasy world” boy) drag the film down immeasurably with their poor overacting. The worst offenses come when it awkwardly switches back from the fantasy world to Bastion reading the book, as he ridiculously overacts to whatever he’s reading, throwing the book across the room in panic, screaming out advice to the characters, and in general being such an utter spaz that I became essentially required to root for the bullies that had been tormenting him at the start of the film.

Should I be sympathetic, given their ages? Does their youth make it acceptable that they both stunk up the place? I say to you all, nay! It is unacceptable, and we must stamp out bad child acting wherever we may stumble upon it! Let your voices be heard, proud citizens! Together, we can make a difference! I would sooner raze this world to the ground rather than sit through more pesty kids ruining movies had otherwise had potential, and you should feel the same. This actually is a good movie outside of those two horrid kids (One of whom, Atreyu, almost died twice during filming. If only…), but they drag it down so much that you just want to choke the life out of them by the time the end credits roll. In fairness, I’m pretty sure I did like this the one time I saw it as a child, so I suppose it would make a decent movie for your children, it’s just one that they shouldn’t still be liking once they’ve grown up more. You know, unless you raised stupid children.

Rating: * 1/2

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