NeverEnding Story II, The: Next Chapter, The (1989)
Main Menu Audio
Listing-Cast & Crew
|Year Of Production||1989|
|RSDL / Flipper||No/No||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||2,4||Directed By||George Miller|
Warner Home Video
John Wesley Shipp
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||2.35:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||2.35:1||Miscellaneous|
English for the Hearing Impaired
German for the Hearing Impaired
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
The NeverEnding Story was a hugely successful children's movie released in 1984. It was the story of Bastian, a young boy who finds a mysterious old book that draws him into the story itself and transports him into the world of Fantasia, where he meets a host of fantastic friends and characters including Atreyu (the brave young warrior), the child-like Empress, Falkor (the luckdragon) and Rock Biter (a giant man made of rock). However, this world is not without its perils, as Bastian learns that he must confront an evil empress in order to save Fantasia from The Nothing, a destructive threat eating up Fantasia, owing to the fact that children no longer read fantasy books and use their imagination.
The NeverEnding Story was hugely successful because of its imaginative concept, with the movie being co-written and skilfully directed by Wolfgang Petersen.
NeverEnding Story II? Well, this one is the story of Bastian, a young boy who finds a mysterious old book (again) that draws him into the story itself and transports him into the world of Fantasia (again), where he meets the same host of fantastic friends and characters including Atreyu (the brave young warrior), the child-like Empress, Falkor (the luckdragon) and Rock Biter (a giant man made of rock). However this world is not without its perils (again), as Bastian learns that he must confront an evil empress (again) in order to save Fantasia from - wait for it - The Emptiness (note the changed plot piece?), a destructive threat eating up Fantasia, owing to the fact that children no longer read fantasy books and use their imagination (again). But this time, Bastian is also in danger of losing his own memory, of being stuck in Fantasia forever and hence being unable to save Fantasia at all (or was that in the first place?).
As you can see, NeverEnding Story II is not so much a sequel as a re-hash, and a poor one at that. Oh yeah, with the odd minor changed plot piece and new character thrown in as well. Very sadly however, the principal element that made the first movie successful, ironically imagination itself, is definitely lacking in the re-hash (sorry, sequel).
I did approach this movie with an open mind, and was very cognisant of the need to review it with the target audience in mind. However, I doubt that this sequel would hold many children's imaginations for too long. Yes, it's interesting enough visually and that will entertain the audience for a while. However, I'm sure most children would have seen it all before and seen it done better.
This is a surprisingly creditable transfer effort, with any visual problems being those inherent in the original film print rather than any film-to-video artefacts.
The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and is 16x9 enhanced. When I saw the 2.35:1, I must admit I had to shake my head and wonder whether it was really absolutely necessary to present this DVD in the widest possible aspect ratio. This is particularly when there seem to be so many other 2.35:1 theatrical release movies out there which cry out for full transfers, but only seem to warrant a 1.78:1 DVD effort. I find it a touch ironic that with this movie, bearing in mind what it is and the target audience for whom it is intended, a full 2.35:1 ratio seems just a bit superfluous. I'm sure that 1.78:1 would have been more than sufficient for the target audience. (Ed. Blasphemy!) But then again, every DVD distributor should be encouraged to preserve the original aspect ratio in all DVD transfers, so I suppose it is a bit hard to criticise Warners here - I just shake my head and wonder why in this particular case...
Anyway, on to the video transfer quality. This transfer is generally quite sharp - or it may be more accurate to say that whatever sharpness was present in the original print appears to have been preserved without loss. Yes, there is some grain and/or lack of definition noticeable in some scenes, but this is not prominent to the point of distraction. A similar comment may be made in respect of luminance generally. Shadow detail is accurate enough to portray what minimal background detail is there. However, as a general comment, this film is minimally directed, with the action taking place mostly near centre frame and on brightly lit sets or against bright matte paintings, so there is not a great deal of background or shadow detail which needs to be portrayed anyway.
Colours are generally well rendered and used as good visual contrasts in the film. I wouldn't say the colour is super vibrant mind you, and I did find the overall colour palette just a touch washed-out throughout. The colours are quite satisfactory, but they just don't seem to have that crispness about them. This is particularly so of the greens and blues, more so than the reds which appear less washed-out by comparison. See Chapters 11 and 24 for the best examples of this.
There are no film-to-video artefacts apparent, no prominent aliasing issues, no low level noise (as distinct from some grain in the film print), nor any other film-to-video problems. Overall, a surprisingly high quality transfer in this respect.
Film artefacts are there, but are restricted to the odd bit of dirt or flecks on the negative - no more than might be expected of an older film - and some scenes which are perhaps wanting of greater definition. This no doubt is just reflective of the quality of the film stock used (I don't think NeverEnding Story II warranted the best camera equipment and film stock that money could buy!).
This disc is single-layered, so there is no layer transition to comment on (note that the disc packaging indicates a dual layer format - this is incorrect).
There is certainly a plethora of subtitle languages available on this disc, presumably an indication of how successful the initial film release was around the world. I'm sure you won't go wanting for a subtitle language.
Audio tracks available are English, French German and Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround. I listened to the default English track.
Dialogue was quite clear and easy to understand. Audio sync was not really a problem per se, that is unless you want to mention the rather obvious ADR work used throughout. I can't say that these young actors did an overly great job with their ADR work, so it does beg the question of why the director relied on it so extensively in this movie? They were filming almost exclusively on studio sets, so how hard could it have been to record and use some set dialogue? Anyway, it's probably not that distracting unless you're sensitive to it.
The music score is by Robert Folk, which is pretty banal, with additional title score provided by Giorgio Moroder, which is not bad. Funnily, as the music score is a bit weak, it is deemed necessary by the filmmakers to reprise the original NeverEnding Story pop song over the closing credits. I was of course waiting for this song from the very beginning and was just beginning to think they had forgotten all about it when it made its appearance. However, when we finally do hear it, we don't get Limahl, but rather cop a very ordinary re-recording of it by someone else! Limahl should sue! Tsk, tsk...
More seriously, the great thing to report about this audio transfer is the Dolby Surround mix, as it is quite superb. Surround activity is present from very early on in the track and is used to very good effect to accentuate the front stereo channels. Pleasingly, the use of the rear channels is not just restricted to the occasional ambience, but for some effective rear pans and precise directional effects (for example in thunderstorms). The mix is not one of those stop-and-start, distracting on-and-off 2.0 surround affairs, but rather a fairly constant use of the rear speakers which adds well to the enjoyment of the movie.
Being only a 2.0 surround mix though, and in a kids' movie music score devoid of any real bass, the sub does not get a great workout. It does help share the load with the occasional bump and sound effect, but is not called upon much.
|Surround Channel Use|
Extras are restricted to a theatrical trailer and a cast and crew info screen (not that I was really expecting a director's commentary, isolated music score and deleted scenes!).
Every menu screen on this disc is in 1.78:1 and is 16x9 enhanced. A big tick here. All screens are static, including the chapter select screens. The main menu does have audio.
This is presented in 1.78:1 and is 16x9 enhanced. Audio is Dolby Digital 2.0. The quality is fine.
Listed on the disc packaging as a "Cast and Crew" extra, I expected to see the usual menu of selectable bio pages. Instead what we get is a single screen listing the major movie credits, but with no names selectable for bio or further information.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on;
The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on;
There appear to be no compelling differences between versions of this DVD.
Overall, the NeverEnding Story II DVD presents a very creditable video and audio transfer of a fairly ordinary sequel to the original movie.
|DVD||Toshiba 2109, using Component output|
|Display||Toshiba 117cm widescreen RPTV. Calibrated with AVIA Guide To Home Theatre. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Yamaha RXV-1000. Calibrated with AVIA Guide To Home Theatre.|
|Amplification||Elektra Home Theatre surround power amp|
|Speakers||Orpheus Aurora III mains, Orpheus Centaurus 1.0 centre, Velodyne CT150 sub and B&W DM303 rears|