THE NEVERENDING STORY III
Unfortunately, The Neverending Story III is abysmal. Certainly, whenever it is in Fantasia the imagination soars there are some superb mattes looking out across the world in beautifully rich Day-Glo colours. The opening, against which the credits play, is a stunning computer animation sequence, which moves across the landscape as the seasons change. There are some imaginative sets, the best being the interior of the crystal city. However, it is here that one starts to realize the films failure of imagination while the sets are good, one realizes by the end of the film that the only sets we have visited in Fantasia have been the single interior of the ice city, Engywooks lab and the Rock Biters home. Imagination clearly presented on a limited budget.
Unfortunately, the film is waylaid by a mindless juvenility. It was a major mistake to take the story out of Fantasia and back to Earth where the focus now becomes the comic mishaps of the various creatures in the contemporary world rather than adventure in a land of fantasy. The Henson Workshops creature effects lack any conviction. Junior, the baby rock biter, seems a direct copy of Baby Dinosaur in tvs Dinosaurs (1991-3), which was also created by The Henson Workshop. Even sillier is the tree-creature Barky, which clumps about trailing ridiculous twigs from its feet and hands.
Even worse than that is the films annoyingly hip attitude to the creatures. As is the problem with much contemporary Disney, fantasy these days is getting made without any suspension of disbelief but rather is pitched at kids in terms of getting easy laughs derived from pop culture references. The creatures here crack asinine contemporary culture jokes about preferring to be in Las Vegas, about missing their flight, comparing Bastian to Arnold Schwarzenegger which patently destroys the illusion of Fantasia as a fantastic realm. Even the Childlike Empress manages to discover the concept of shopping. The absolute pits are reached in the interludes in the Rock Biter home where we meet Mrs Rock Biter who wears stone curlers and where the Rock Biter sits watching Rock Biter-styled MTV. In the films most cringe-worthy moment, Rock Biter and son pedal across the landscape on their stone tricycles to the pounding accompaniment of Steppenwolfs Born to Be Wild (1968).
(Winner in this sites Worst Films of 1994 list).