Wolfgang Petersen’s The NeverEnding Story is a marvelously realized flight of pure fantasy.
With the support of top German, British and US technicians and artists plus a hefty $27 million budget (highest for any film made outside US or USSR), helmer Petersen has improved on pic’s immediate forebear, Jim Henson/Frank Oz’s 1982 The Dark Crystal, by avoiding too much unrelieved strangeness.
Film opens with a little boy, Bastian (Barret Oliver), borrowing a strange-looking book at a local bookstore and holes up in the school attic to read.
Book, titled The Neverending Story, depicts a world known as Fantasia, threatened by an advancing force called The Nothing (represented by storms) which is gradually destroying all. To save Fantasia, an ailing empress (Tami Stronach) sends for a young warrior from among the plains people, Atreyu (Noah Hathaway) to go on a quest to find a cure for her illness.
Filming at and backed by Munich’s Bavaria Studios, Story benefits from special effects technicians working overtime to create a new-look world.