Bastian returns to the world of Fantasia and faces a new threat to the land in this sequel to the 1984 original epic.
It has been a year since Bastian Balthazar Bux has saved Fantasia and was a part of the NeverEnding Story. However, he is still going through some issues. Scared of heights, Bastian is unable to try out for the swim team at his school and his father once again, is focused solely on work. When Bastian visits Mr. Koreander’s bookstore once again, he finds The NeverEnding Story and once again, Mr. Koreander warns Bastian not to read it. However, Bastian takes the book and takes it home to read.
With his reading the book, Bastian enters the world of Fantasia and reuniting with both the Childlike Empress and his friend, the warrior Atreyu along with the Luck Dragon Falkor. However, this time, a new threat poses in the form of Xayide, a heartless and aspiring woman who plans to use and steal Bastian’s memories through a machine. If Bastian loses his memories, she will be able to take over Fantasia for herself. When he is on his quest, Xayide traps Bastian by granting him wishes using the Auryn, which in turn causes Bastian to lose his memory. However, an unexpected ally is set to come to Bastian’s rescue and help him defeat Xayide and save Fantasia once again.
Five years after the original epic, producer Dieter Geissler returns to produce this unexpected sequel and it is stressed that it is unexpected as one would wonder why this would even be made. Then again, with the original film being a massive hit, perhaps a sequel is not surprising. However, what is interesting is that the original film covered the first half of the book and now, we are given the second half of the book.
The big difference comes in the core cast as all of the cast except for one is replaced. The only returnee is Thomas Hill as the bookstore owner Mr. Koreander. However, Bastian is now played by the late Jonathan Brandis, who actually does a pretty decent job at making the role his own and not emulating predecessor Barret Oliver. This time Brandis doesn’t deal with bullying so much, but rather must deal with a fear of heights and still thinks about his late mother. Replacing Noah Hathaway as Atreyu is Kenny Morrison, who makes the most of his role to some effect thanks to his chemistry with Brandis. Unlike their predecessors, these two get more screen time together and have that bond that works well.
Clarissa Burt plays the villain of the film, Xayide, a heartless sorceress who wants to turn Fantasia to a very dark place and knowing that Bastian is the one who saved Fantasia and has become its champion, she sets a devious plan in motion. Martin Umbach, underneath heavy make-up and animatronics as Xayide’s henchman Nimbly, seems like a figure who finds himself conflicted when he learns the real deal about Bastian’s memories. Alexandra Johnes replaces Tami Stronach and is given more minimal time as the Childlike Empress. However, the film is more about Bastian’s attempt to save Fantasia with the risk of losing the one thing he cherishes most.
The NeverEnding Story II: The Next Chapter may not be as epic as the original, but it still holds its own as a decent sequel thanks to the performances of Jonathan Brandis and Kenny Morrison as Bastian and Atreyu and the twist of the “unexpected ally” makes it worth watching at least once.
WFG RATING: B-
Warner Bros. Pictures a Bavaria Film production in association with CineVox Filmproduktion GmbH. Director: George Miller. Producer: Dieter Geissler. Writer: Karin Howard; based on the novel by Michael Ende. Cinematography: David Connell. Editing: Chris Blunden and Peter Hollywood.
Cast: Jonathan Brandis, Kenny Morrison, Clarissa Burt, Martin Umbach, John Wesley Shipp, Alexandra Johnes, Thomas Hill, Helena Mitchell, Chris Burton.