The hero of Fantasia now goes on a reverse course when the land he once saved comes to him in this final installment of the fantasy trilogy.
Bastian Bux has gone through a major change in his life since his last adventure in Fantasia. Now a teenager who is about to start high school, Bastian’s father has remarried and now he has a stepsister, Nicole. Nicole has not taken too lightly to Bastian and thinks he’s weird. On the first day of school, Bastian finds himself a victim of high school gang The Nasties, led by Slip. When they chase him down, he ends up in the library where he is stunned to learn that the new librarian is Koreander. Bastian finds the NeverEnding Story and disappears in the world of Fantasia.
While Bastian is in Fantastia, Slip finds the book and recognizes the book’s power and decides to use it to his advantage. When Slip turns Fantasia into his own private hell, the Childlike Empress suggests to Bastian to return to the real world in hopes to save Fantasia. However, Bastian is not alone as his friends Rockbiter Jr., Urgl, Endywook, and Large Head have all joined Bastian. To make matters worse, Nicole finds herself in possession of the Auryn, the key to Fantasia’s powers. Bastian must convince Nicole to help him and to save Fantasia before Slip and the Nasties take over both worlds.
With the first two films covering the novel by Michael Ende, this is a new installment with a new story involving Fantasia’s champion Bastian Balthazar Bux. While NeverEnding Story II scripter Karin Howard came up with the story, Jeff Lieberman wrong the script and Peter MacDonald directed the film, which seems to have that 90’s feel of the story, but for some reason, as much as I enjoyed the first two films, this one didn’t gel right with me.
The film is definitely going to be known as one of the first appearances of A-list actor Jack Black, who plays the film’s villain Slip, leader of the Nasties. Following Barret Oliver and the late Jonathan Brandis, Free Willy star Jason James Richter plays Bastian as a really strange teenager whose life has changed in the real work when he has a new stepsister, played by Camp Nowhere’s Melody Kay. The film’s story also takes a very different direction in terms of his father because of the events of the previous film. It is as if instead of a connection between the other films, it’s more of an alternate universe within the book.
The other major issue with this third installment is that while we do have the now teen Empress in Julie Cox, one important character is missing. There’s no Atreyu in this film and that’s a problem. The young warrior was a vital part of the previous films and to see him missing in this one poses a problem. The fact that we have characters from Fantasia coming into the real world as part of the film, it would be interesting to see how Atreyu could have dealt with the real world. And even worse, the Luck Dragon Falkor seems to have undergone a change in his look and well, it looks a bit ridiculous when he never had a black nose like a dog like he does here.
The NeverEnding Story III could have had potential, but with the absence of a major character from the previous two and the lack of a real connection, this is one story that should have ended with the second film. Should be seen only to see Jack Black in one of his earliest performances.
WFG RATING: D
Miramax Films presents a CineVox production. Director: Peter MacDonald. Producer: Dieter Geissler. Writer: Jeff Lieberman; story by Karin Howard; based on characters created by Michael Ende. Cinematography: Robin Vidgeon. Editing: Michael Bradsell.
Cast: Jason James Richter, Melody Kay, Jack Black, Ryan Bollman, Kevin McNulty, Carole Finn, Freddie Jones, Julie Cox, Moya Brady, Tony Robinson, Thomas Petruo, Tracey Ellis, Nicole Parker, Adrian Dorval.