While the original movie only covered half of the book, The NeverEnding Story II: The Next Chapter gave it a proper ending. The NeverEnding Story adapted the Michael Ende novel of the same name. Ende’s story followed a bullied young boy named Bastian who steals a book titled The NeverEnding Story. The book tells the adventures of a young warrior on a dangerous quest through the fantasy land of Fantasia to stop “The Nothing;” around halfway through the book, Bastian becomes part of the quest too. The NeverEnding Story was adapted into a film in 1984 from director Wolfgang Petersen. The movie was a fun fantasy adventure with some surprisingly dark moments, and both the movie and theme song by Limahl would become huge successes.
Unfortunately, author Michael Ende was decidedly not a fan and sued the production company behind the movie. This delayed The NeverEnding Story II: The Next Chapter for years, forcing a recasting of the main characters. The sequel received mostly a mediocre reception and grossed much less than the original. The franchise came to a close with The NeverEnding Story III, which received terrible reviews and was a box-office dud; the sequel is notable for featuring an early main role for Jack Black (Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle) however.
The NeverEnding Story recently got a boost in popularity due to Limahl’s theme becoming an important plot point in Stranger Things season 3. One of Ende’s issues with the first movie is it only covered half the book, meaning the theme of his story was missing. In the book, after Bastian is sucked into the story he can use his imagination to shape the world around him. This also means he loses a memory each time he makes a wish and becomes evil as the story progresses. The novel is also metatextual, with Bastian becoming aware others – AKA the readers – are reading his adventures too.
The first movie omitted the section where Bastian loses his memory, so The NeverEnding Story II: The Next Chapter covers this section. While the plot features Bastian (Jonathan Brandis, IT ) slowly losing himself as his memories slip away, sadly the sequel waters down the darkness of Ende’s story too. The book is an ode to the power of imagination, but also a warning not to become lost in fantasy, which is how Bastian takes an evil turn. In The Next Chapter, he’s manipulated into making silly wishes by a sorceress instead and the message he learns is to overcome his fears. It’s unknown what the author thought of the sequel, but it’s unlikely he was a fan.
While The NeverEnding Story II: The Next Chapter is lacking compared to the book and first movie, it’s still an entertaining kid’s adventure. While it somewhat mangled the actual message of the novel, it did provide an actual ending to the saga too. The third movie would create a brand new storyline unrelated to the book – which might be one reason it doesn’t work at all.
Next: Where Are They Now? The Cast Of The NeverEnding Story