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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that the 1990's The NeverEnding Story 2: The Next Chapter is a sequel to the 1984 The NeverEnding Story, and both are based on the Michael Ende novel of the same name. Book-loving Bastian is again called upon to save Fantasia, this time to make sure that all the fiction and dreams don't disappear along with that faltering magical place. Bravery, selflessness, and love are encouraged, but giant monsters and a destructive fire-breathing dragon with a nasty roar may scare young or sensitive kids. A young character dies tragically but is revived, and a central theme is the death of another character's beloved mother.
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What's the story?
THE NEVERENDING STORY 2 features Bastian, who is unable to summon the courage to jump from the high diving board as required by his school's swim team. Desperate and embarrassed, Bastian (Jonathan Brandis) looks for a book to guide him. He finds "The NeverEnding Story" at Koreander's bookstore, but as he rereads the familiar book he notices that the story has changed and that his help is needed if Fantasia and the childlike Empress, keepers of dreams and stories, are to survive. The book offers him Auryn, a powerful medallion he had gained in his first adventure (in the earlier movie), and this time it allows him to wish for anything he likes. This seeming advantage is what the evil schemer Xayide (Clarissa Burt) uses to distract Bastian from his quest. Xayide wants to fill Fantasia with the dreaded Emptiness that is causing stories to disappear from their pages on earth and general chaos in Fantasia. She casts a spell cursing Bastian's wishes. Every time he makes one he loses a prized memory until he forgets nearly everything -- his mother, his father, and the purpose of his mission in Fantasia. Throughout the action, scary giant creatures try to thwart him and his warrior friend Atreyu (Kenny Morrison). Spoiler alert: a treasured character dies falling down a mountain side but is later revived.
Is it any good?
Special effects may seem dated to kids used to Harry Potter and more recent fare, but the cleverness of a story that keeps changing as characters and circumstances require will probably draw kids in. Brandis is an engaging Bastian. Morrison makes an intrepid Atreyu and Burt is deliciously villainous as Xayide. The NeverEnding Story 2: The Next Chapter echoes The Wizard of Oz in many ways -- a child unhappy at home is cast into a dangerous mission in a strange land -- but some may find it wanting in comparison. Sticklers may find occasional lapses in the movie's internal logic nagging, including when Bastian is able to revive a dead friend but never thinks to use wishes to revive his dead mother. But those lost in the story won't mind.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how difficult it must be for a child to lose a parent, as Bastian has in The NeverEnding Story 2: The Next Chapter. Do you have any friends who have experienced that? How do you think you can support friends who have gone through such a traumatic experience?
The movie suggests that making up stories and valuing dreams is an important human activity. Why do you think it's important to tell, listen to, and watch stories?
How does this sequel compare to the original?
- In theaters: February 8, 1990
- On DVD or streaming: February 3, 2004
- Cast: Jonathan Brandis, Clarissa Burt, Kenny Morrison, John Wesley Shipp
- Director: George Miller
- Studio: Warner Home Video
- Genre: Fantasy
- Character strengths: Courage
- Run time: 89 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- Last updated: September 20, 2019
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