The Neverending Story III

Every movie star has a film in their back catalogue they wish they never made, a film so bad they hope no one would have the nerve to maintain its availability.  I’m willing to bet that in Jack Black’s case, that film would be The Neverending Story III.
Made in 1994 but released briefly in North America two years later, this is the sequel that effectively killed off a franchise that wasn’t particularly inspired to begin with.  In the silly and dull 1984 original, we were introduced to a troubled kid named Bastian who learned to find solace from bullies and the death of his mother through an unusual novel.  In the forgettable but slightly better 1991 follow-up, he entered the setting of that same book to do battle with a sorceress.
Number three essentially begins the same way as number one.  Bastian (now played by Free Willy’s Jason James Richter) is once again being chased by a small group of bullies.  He manages to lose them by slipping into his school’s library where he encounters Koreander, the same damn, crusty book lover who owned the little bookstore he discovered during a similiar chase in the first movie.  Wouldn’t you know it, he manages to find The Neverending Story, too.  As he reads it, we learn about all the events that led up to the hallway chase sequence.
Bastian’s widowed father has finally remarried and his new stepmom has a daughter of her own.  Her name’s Nicole and good lord, is she an obnoxious little bitch.  Not terribly pleased about the new members of her family, she spends much of this tedious sequel making her new stepbrother feel like monkey turds.  If you look up "unpleasantness" in the dictionary, you’ll find her picture.
Back to the present.  Those bullies, nicknamed The Nasties, have found Bastian’s hiding place and the chase is back on.  But Bastian gives them the slip again by transporting himself back to Fantasia, the setting of The Neverending Story.  Unfortunately, the book is left behind which inspires the leader of The Nasties (yep, Jack Black) to have a little fun at the new kid’s expense.  Too bad he has no imagination when it comes to villainy.
While in Fantasia, Bastian reacquaints himself with several supporting characters from the earlier installments in this series as well as one new face.  We once again encounter the constantly bickering little gnomes, the rock family, and Falkor, the luck dragon.  Then, there’s Bark Troll, a Jackie Mason-ish tree who must’ve been conceived in the Borscht Belt forest.  They all make the journey to see The Child Empress (played by then-twentysomething actress Julie Cox) in The Mountains Of Destiny in order to find out how to stop The Nasties (or The Nasty, as the bullies are sometimes oddly called) from continuing to wreak havoc on their cheap-looking land.
The Empress gives Bastian her wish-powered necklace but he can’t will himself back to the real world without the assistance of his Fantasia pals.  As a result, the baby rock, the gnomes, the unfunny tree and Falkor all find themselves just as out of place on Earth as Bastian does.
The Neverending Story III is tirelessly stupid, completely unfunny and consistently irritating.  Watching it, you can’t help but wonder how The Nasties are able to be who they are so freely without any serious repercussions for their inane behavior.  In fact, at one point, they actually do get expelled (or was that just wishful thinking?) and yet, there they are on school property enjoying the moment when Bastian opens his locker and gets a wet surprise.
Meanwhile, what the hell happened to Falkor?  Whatever positivity he had in the previous chapters has long disappeared in this disaster.  The decrepit-looking creature has developed a cowardly lion persona which makes no sense.  In fact, logic has taken a dirt nap in this wholely unnecessary sequel.
Black looks like he walked off the set of Full Metal Jacket.  And what’s with that unibrow?  He receives a considerable amount of screen time here.  But thanks to a wretched screenplay, he’s reduced to making dead serious glares and occasional fits of overacting.  Like everybody else on-screen, he has no compelling material to work with and is left withering in the wind.
This is a cold, stale, worthless family film.  It remains a mystery how it ever managed a theatrical release.
Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Monday, April 7, 2008
11:53 p.m. 
Published in: on April 7, 2008 at 11:55 pm  Leave a Comment  

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