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Film / The NeverEnding Story II: The Next Chapter

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Coreander: Put it back! That book asks too much of you.
Bastian Bux: But it's The NeverEnding Story. I've already read it.
Coreander: Ahh, but have you ever read a book twice? Books change each time you read them.

The NeverEnding Story II: The Next Chapter is a 1990 film that is a sequel to The Never Ending Story (1984). While the first film adapts the first half of the original book, the second film is (more loosely) based on the second half.

Bastian (Jonathan Brandis) is struggling to do well on the swimming team because of his fears. When he goes to the library to find information on how to gain courage, he comes across Carl Coreander and his NeverEnding Story book again. Thanks to a cry of distress from the Childlike Empress, he learns that Fantasia is under the threat of a new foe known as The Emptiness, personified as the evil sorceress Xayide. Therefore, he sets out, with the help from Atreyu, to stop The Emptiness from ending Fantasia. Things get only more complicated when Bastian's dad finds out his son his missing, leading to a journey of his own.

This film was followed up by one more installment titled The NeverEnding Story III: Escape from Fantasia, released in 1994.

The NeverEnding Story II: The Next Chapter contains examples of:

  • Adaptational Abomination:
    • Xayide is now a Humanoid Abomination as the personification of the Emptiness. In the book, she was "merely" the most powerful and wicked sorceress in Fantastica, and her ability to control anything empty with her will was not a cosmic force on the scale of the Nothing.
    • Inverted with Smerg. In the movie, he's a standard evil Western dragon stereotype. In the book, he had a more detailed grotesque appearance: the body of a rat, wings of a bat, tail of a scorpion and back legs of a grasshopper, with the heads of an old man and old woman in place of eyes.
  • Adaptational Context Change:
    • Bastian wishes up Smerg in an attempt to create a mount to take himself to Horok Castle, rather than to produce a challenge for Hero Hynreck to overcome so that the hero can impress Princess Oglamar of Luna (both the hero and the princess are Adapted Out).
    • Bastian loses his memories when he makes wishes on AURYN because Xayide's minion Tri Face has created a machine that makes it work that way. In the book, AURYN worked that way naturally. This wasn't shown in the first film, so it required an explanation in this one. Also, willfully giving Bastian an amulet that makes him lose memories of his human life wouldn't have been in line with the more standard Big Good role given to the Childlike Empress in the movies, as opposed to her moral ambiguity in the novel.
  • Adaptation Explanation Extrication: While the lake around the Silver City of Amarganth is still made of acid that keeps the city shining, there's no appearance by the wormlike Acharis whose acidic tears fill the lake.
  • Adaptational Nonsapience: As in the first movie, Artax is an ordinary horse here instead of a Talking Animal like in the book.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: During the climax, Bastian refuses to make his final wish, due to how that would affect Fantasia. Xayide's threats don't do any good, but her simple question rattles his cage.
    Xayide: Very well, but how would your father feel if he never sees you again?
  • Armor-Piercing Response: Early into the movie, Bastian's father disapproves of the kid's sweater, calling it an old rag. His flippancy evaporates with this response.
    Bastian: Mom made it.
  • Big Bad: Xayide, who is actually the personification of the Emptiness.
  • Big "YES!": Barney, after Bastian saves himself in the river.
  • The Blank: Xayide, which leads to a terrifying appearance.
  • Call It Karma: According to what Barney reads in the book, Bastian thinks that drowning in the river is deserved punishment for what he did to Atreyu. Barney urges him to save himself instead of think that way, and Bastian later says he heard this.
  • Canon Foreigner:
    • Tri Face, the Wambos, the Ship of Secret Plots, the Mudwarts, the Lavaman, the Windbride and the Instrument Spinster do not appear in the novel, and Pyornkrachzark the Rock-chewer does not have a baby son as far as we know. Tri Face is somewhat similar to a mentioned creature called a Four-Quarter Troll, who has four faces displaying different emotions.
    • Nimbly is a borderline example; there's no individual named Nimbly in the book, but nimblies are mentioned as a species of feathered rabbits. Which makes this an Adaptational Species Change, as the movie Nimbly is a big bird.
  • Death by Adaptation: At one point, while losing his identity, Bastian actually accidentally kills Atreyu as they fight over AURYN. While they turn against each other for a time in the novel, this does not happen. And Bastian likely wouldn't have been able to bring Atreyu back to life with AURYN if it had; what evidence there is suggests undoing death is something beyond anyone's power in the book - Artax dies in the Swamps of Sadness to make an impact on Bastian and this is never reversed.
  • Death of Personality: The Emptiness slowly does this to Bastian by erasing his memories every time he makes a wish.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: Invoked and subverted. Xayide pretends to become Bastian's loyal servant after he defeats her giants in Horok Castle, but it's just an act to manipulate him. As in the book.
  • Disneyfication: The second film removes many of the deeper themes and messages of the second half of the novel and replaces them with a more generic hero vs villain story.
    • Xayide's elevation to primary antagonist responsible for Bastian losing his memories. In the book, the memory loss is a natural function of a human using AURYN to grant wishes.
    • Xayide causing "the Emptiness" to spread throughout Fantasia (which is just a rehash of the Nothing from the first film) is fabricated to make her a credible primary villain, when the latter half of the novel on which the film is based was about Bastian nearly becoming the villain and losing himself, with some encouragement from her. In the book, Xayide's will was able to control anything empty (hence the hollow giants), but it wasn't a force comparable to the Nothing.
    • The manipulation of Bastian by Xayide in the film is used as the primary cause of Bastian's slow downfall, unlike the novel. While Xayide is in the novel and does manipulate him, she is not the main antagonist and is not responsible for his memory loss. The novel is about Bastian's slow descent into becoming the primary villain through his own self-loathing and desire to be loved, leading to some very bad choices that also cause the loss of memories of his former self. Likewise, his final repentance and search for his true self and desires are completely omitted from the film and replaced by a message about facing one's fears. This message was in fact a part of Bastian's journey through the original novel, but it was a part of the bigger picture of Bastian slowly discovering who he is and what he truly wants.
  • Dramatic Irony: While camping out with the others, Bastian expresses certainty that no one back home misses him. By this point, we've already seen Barney trying to find out what happened to him.
  • "Eureka!" Moment: Down to his very last wish and surrounded by enemies, Bastian realizes how he can use it to stop Xayide and save Fantasia for good.
  • The Evil Genius: Tri Face, Xayide's minion who created the Memory Machine.
  • Face Death with Dignity: In the hospital memory, Bastian's mother is at peace over her imminent death and comforts him over it.
  • Fan Disservice: Bastian's swimming class, where half of his friends are wearing speedos. Bear in mind that most of them are at best thirteen years old.
  • The Glomp: Bastian when reunited with Barney at the end of the movie.
  • Heel–Face Brainwashing: Of a sort. Bastian's last wish is for Xayide to "have a heart". She immediately starts shedding Tears of Remorse and magically undoes all the evil things she's done.
  • Heel–Face Turn:
    • Nimbly helps Bastian find Xayide within the last few minutes of the movie. However, he's unwilling to directly confront Xayide with him and flies away to live another day.
    • Xayide goes through a forceful one via a wish from Bastian. This causes her to realize what she's done and is destroyed... somehow.
  • Hidden Depths: Following along with the book, Barney expresses surprise that Bastian can ride a horse.
  • Humanoid Abomination: Xayide, who is the humanoid embodiment of emptiness.
  • Idiot Ball:
    • Bastian seems to be clutching the idiot ball for dear life, if for no other reason than how easily he's manipulated by Xayide. You'd think he'd be less inclined to make wishes, particularly for such reasons, when the self-professed villain and her bird-boy lackey (who he should be able to notice is working for her) both keep insisting he make wishes. Not only that, he accepts magical (possibly booby-trapped) gifts from her and despite knowing and having far more reason to trust Atreyu than her, for some reason continues to act like Atreyu is some kind of idiot when he insists the Xayide shouldn't be trusted.
    • Bastian is also given opportunities to make wishes with the AURYN (unknown to him that making wishes will cause his memories to be removed from his mind) but most of the time he doesn't even make the wishes. A good example would be when Xayide sends her minions after Bastian; Nimbly tells him to make a wish but he doesn't and Nimbly has to save him.
    • Going the other way, Bastian idly wishes for another way into Xayide's castle, which causes a series of handholds to come out of the wall. However, these stop about half way up and Bastian decides he needs to wish for additional handholds individually (which of course unbeknownst to him speeds up his loss of memories).
  • Informed Ability: Atreyu, despite being described as a great warrior in the first film and even killing Gmork with a stone dagger, is easily murdered by Bastian here.
  • Like Father, Unlike Son: Whereas Bastian desires a life of fantasy and adventure but feels lacking in courage, Barney is a practical engineer who initially has no time for flights of fancy and regularly displays confidence.
  • Lost in Transmission: The window the Windbride conjures in the air so that Bastian can speak to the Childlike Empress on the Ship of Secret Plots has static-y interruptions. One of them prevents him from hearing her warning about the consequences of using AURYN.
  • Magic Librarian: Mr. Coreander is depicted this way.
  • Meaningful Echo: When explaining his Heel–Face Turn to Bastian, Nimbly repeats what he heard Bastian's mother say in the hospital memory: "We're all part of a neverending story."
  • Memory Jar: Bastian is slowly losing his memories, which Xayide is keeping in what appear to be glass orbs.
  • Missing Mom: Bastian's mother being dead hangs over his head for the whole movie, straining his relationship with his father and making him think there's nothing back home.
    Bastian: The only one I miss isn't there.
  • Momma's Boy: Bastian had much more in common with with his mother than with his father, so he takes her absence and a perceived attempt to replace her very badly.
  • Obviously Evil: As in the book, Xayide lives in Horok Castle, shaped like a menacing, taloned hand, making it unlikely that anyone with good intentions calls it home. Falcor Lampshades it.
  • Open Mouth, Insert Foot: Barney is rather dismissive of Bastian's torn up sweater and openly says he doesn't like it, only to be reminded that his dead wife made it in the first place.
  • Parent with New Paramour: Bastian certainly thinks this is the case, derisively talking about "Miss Station Wagon" picking up his old man, who just so happens to be wearing his best tie. Still struggling with his mother's death, Bastian is taking this very hard. For his part, Barney is very evasive on this topic rather than simply saying nothing is happening. Reading the book to follow along on the adventure causes Barney to better understand his son.
  • Parents as People: Barney is depicted as a well-meaning father who just doesn't understand his son's needs or interests.
  • Parental Neglect: Barney works full-time, so he and Bastian don't spend a lot of time together (and when they do, things are pretty tense). Well-into his adventure, Bastian genuinely doesn't think his old man has even noticed that he's gone missing.
  • Spared by the Adaptation:
    • In a sense, the Silver City of Amarganth. Since the movie doesn't include Bastian's ill-advised wish turning the Acharis into the butterfly-clown-like Shlamoofs, the acid lake presumably isn't doomed to eventually dry up and the city to lose its gleam as in the novel.
    • Artax, who was resurrected after dying in the first film but stayed dead in the novel, continues to live through this movie as well.
  • Swiss-Army Tears: How Xayide meets her defeat.
    Bastian: I wish you had a heart.
  • Title Drop: The book's actual title is naturally mentioned multiple times, but the hospital memory features a more typical example. Bastian's mother told him about "the neverending story" they're apart, and Nimbly later repeats this quote towards the end of the movie.
  • Tragic Keepsake: Bastian's ragged sweater was made by his mother. The implication is it's in worsening condition because he wears it whenever possible.
  • Villainous BSoD: Xayide meets her demise when Bastian wishes she had a heart. Considering all the destruction and pain she'd caused, it's little wonder this did her in.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Heights for Bastian. He feels fine when riding Falcor, but he was severely spooked by the high-dive at the pool. He has to face his fears when using Artax to jump over a gorge and again when leaving Fantasia.
  • Wishplosion: Bastian defeats the villainess by "wishing she had a heart" which, since she personifies emptiness, causes her to go poof and her living crab-armor minions to explode.
  • You Are Better Than You Think You Are: The only way to leave Fantasia requires Bastian to face his fear of heights, but he thinks that's impossible. The Childlike Empress, Barney, and Atreyu all point out he has the courage inside him to do it.
  • You Would Do the Same for Me: Bastian gets blasted by the castle's defenses, but Atreyu saves his life by using the AURYN to reflect the blast. As Bastian thanks him for the save, Atreyu is humble about the whole thing and expresses certainty his friend would've done the same if their roles had been reversed. Due to his own courage problems up to this point, Bastian is privately skeptical that he would've and looks ashamed about that.

Alternative Title(s): The Never Ending Story II