Although opinions vary on the second film, the first Neverending Story
was generally seen as an exciting, engrossing fantasy adventure that treated its audience with respect and didn't insult their intelligence.
Then something happened. Hollywood took this fantasy adventure and turned it into a mockery of itself. Literally, as one of the first things it does is make fun of the main character's name.
All the characters from the previous two films who make appearances here have been stripped of their dignity. Falkor, a wise and intelligent giant flying dog-like creature, now both acts and looks as if he's been on drugs. The Rock Biter family turned into the sitcom Dinosaurs
in rock form. Oh, and now they sing a pop song while driving a motorcycle.
The threat in the first two films were The Nothing, and The Emptiness. Abstract concepts that were terrifying (or at least intimidating) in a way that people are not. Here, it's The Nasty. Which sounds like an abstract concept, but is really the nickname for a gang of bullies. A gang of 20-something bullies who are repeatedly held back in school. Rather than leave (which they can legally do, being older than 17), they instead seem to love harrassing high school kids just because.
Like all bully gangs tend to do, they focus immediately on the biggest potential victim, which in this case is Bastian, and become totally preoccupied with him. When Bastian enters Fantasia via the magic book, the bullies decide for some reason to read it, and then discover that they can influence the book and make things happen, so they do.
At one point, the Fantasian creatures enter the real world. Once they're in the real world, Bastian tries to hide the creatures' existence, which is unbelievably stupid. Why not SHOW his parents? He spent much of the money trying to tell his parents and stepsister that this stuff is real, and when given the chance, he comedically tries to hide them, thus blowing his chance. What an idiot.
There's way more that can be said, but do know this: a dignified franchise that took itself seriously and was imaginative and engrossing, was somehow mutated into this bland, generic, stupid comedy that bastardizes everything about the series. No wonder the author of the books died around the release date of this movie.