WHEN: 8:20 am EST, October 6th, 2013
WHERE: The living room of my apartment in Portland
FORMAT: Blu-Ray on a Vizio 32″ LED HDTV
COMPANY: Cinemanaut Bill rushing out before the opening titles.
PHYSICAL AND MENTAL STATE: Just had a lovely breakfast. I’m a bit bummed to be watching alone. Again. Naturally.
Today’s movie market is all about franchises. Or reboots. Or late sequels. Even films that have a solid end are still victims of unnecessary and craptastic sequels.
Since I’m planning on watching the two sequels to The NeverEnding Story after this viewing, I had to question if they are even necessary. The NeverEnding Story is a solid film, but it ends with the narrator saying that Bastian has many other adventures, “But that’s another story.” Well, then fuck you, narrator, for ending everything there. And you too, Wolfgang Petersen, for leaving out more than half of your source material.
The NeverEnding Story doesn’t need a sequel. The film stands on its own as a solid piece of work. Lessons are learned, loose ends are tied up, the good guys win the day. Petersen decided to pick a theme and really drive it home for the audience. These are the elements of a good movie. Too bad it’s an adaptation.
But of the real life book, not the movie book. That’d be silly.
When you have source material, the game changes. When a plot is already written, then there are certain expectations once it hits the big screen. The NeverEnding Story is incomplete. There’s more than half the story missing in the film. Knowing this, there have to be sequels. It’s like opening up a Reese’s package and not eating the second cup.
There is a wrong way to eat a Reese’s, heathen!
If there are a few things cut out of an adaptation to make a film an acceptable length or to leave out dumb characters or other elements that bog down the plot, that’s forgivable. Films require some dumbing down to be marketed to the general public. But when you redact more than 50 percent of your source material, that’s just lazy. Plus, there’s plenty of cool shit that happens in the rest of The Neverending Story, like a living house that’s bigger on the inside and accommodates the needs of its residents as it sees fit.
Close, but less space travel.
And there’s Bastian becoming a power-hungry despot who tries to take over the Ivory Tower and usurp the Childlike Empress. Plus Bastian gets a huge posse to follow him around while he thinks up things to wish for. This is good stuff, guys, and it deserves some screen time.
There’s also a lot going on thematically in the book that gets ousted in the film. I should be so blown away by the movie that I have to go read the book. Petersen’s adaptation fails on this level. He makes a film that is enjoyable on its own, but it’s enclosed and cleanly presented enough that there’s no need to go on. Am I curious about what else happens during Bastian’s other adventures? Absolutely. But I’m satisfied with the movie I’ve watched. The story is about a boy who saves the world by believing in the impossible. Boom. Done. Wrap it up. Stick a fork in it. Tuck it in and kiss it good night. As a reader of the book, yes, give me some sequels or a better adaptation. As a movie watcher, The NeverEnding Story is a complete film, so let’s not ruin it with increasingly awful sequels.
Jason James Richter and Jack Black could never steer me wrong.