Movie Review by Debbie Winkler
Starring: Barret Oliver, Noah Hathaway, Tami Stronach, Gerald McRaney, Thomas Hill
Director: Wolfgang Petersen
Series: Neverending Story Movie Series #1
Release Date: 20 July 1984
Length: 102 minutes
Movie Rating: PG
View Format: DVD
My Rating: 4.5/5 stars
“A young boy (Barret Oliver) who’s constantly harassed by schoolyard bullies holes up in an abandoned attic with an extraordinary book about an amazing universe, a land filled with rock-eating creatures, racing snails and flying dragons. Director Wolfgang Petersen‘s first English-language film was so successful that it spawned a couple of live-action sequels as well as an animated television series.” — Netflix.com
Before you read further, let me warn you that I grew up watching this movie and always loved it. I am prejudiced and cannot really review it without remembering all of the wonderful times as a child when I watched this movie with my siblings. So, just keep in mind that my rating is probably a lot higher than most as this movie holds a special place in my heart.
This is a wonderful fantasy tale to share with your children or to watch with your whole family! I especially can recommend this movie for people who are not as familiar with fantasy and want a fun, action-packed introduction to a movie with a lot of fantasy elements. The special effects are a bit dated and the music and styling definitely retain their ’80s style, but the movie does not feel too old. The plot is relatively simple: the empress is dying so a hero is sent out into the farthest reaches of Fantasia to find a cure. What makes this movie a bit more unique is that a human boy in our world is reading the story and slowly discovers that he is actively participating in creating the story and changing the world of Fantasia. I still think this is a creative and clever touch to a traditional fantasy quest and makes this movie a bit more memorable than it otherwise would be.
The acting is not great, but it is not bad. Most of the acting is done by children as both leads are young boys (Barret Oliver & Noah Hathaway) and they do a fine job. I really enjoyed the creature designs featured in the movie and find that they look almost exactly like I pictured them while reading the book. The sets are colorful and interesting and really help you realize that, while the world of Fantasia is similar to ours, it is also very different.
There are little bits of humor peppered throughout the movie and plenty of action to keep children entertained. If you have young boys, I highly recommend this film for you to rent. Even if you don’t have little boys, I think that your children will enjoy this well-made fantasy film and will enjoy themselves. This movie is available cheaply and is also available online in several places. It is old, but it is still a classic and still very much enjoyable and relevant for viewers today.
There are a few scary sequences where creatures die (sucked into quicksand, liquefied by laser eyes, etc), a battle sequence between the warrior & a huge wolf (G’mork) and other scenes that contain mild violence. Younger children can be frightened by unfamiliar monsters such as the giant tortoise, the oracle, the wolf, the luck dragon and the like, but parents should be able to explain that these creatures are not real and they don’t need to be worried. Recommended for ages 8 and up.