The Never Ending Story (Blu-ray) (1984)
PG Dir: Wolfgang Petersen | Warner | 94 min.

Review By: Matt Brighton | January 28th, 2012

Plot: What’s it about?

Bastian (Barret Oliver) is a young man with troubles, as he is always pushed around bullies and by turn, always looking for an escape. In one instance, he dodges the toughs by ducking into a bookstore, where a certain volume catches his attention. The book is large and bound in thick leather, it just seemed like an important book of some kind. The owner of the shop informs him that the book has magical powers and in truth, Bastia.n would be better off with another choice. He insists that once someone begins to read this magical book, they never want to put it aside, as they’re sucked into the world found in the texts inside. But Bastian wants to discover the truth about the book, so he borrows it and heads into the school’s attic, where he can read in peace and of course, avoid the bullies. Little does he know the book tells an epic tale of magic, dragons, warriors, elves, and all sorts of other mystical elements. This book is like no other he has ever read, as he seems to become part of the story, which shocks him. The road to the end of the story is a long one and is surrounded by danger, but can Bastian somehow see this through?

As one of the movies I watched often as a youth, The NeverEnding Story holds a special place in my collection, without a doubt. I spent many an afternoon just sitting back and watching this picture, never tiring of the adventures within. I sort of assumed it would grow old at some point, but even as I have gotten older, it has remained as magical as ever. So what is it about this movie that stands up to time so well? I couldn’t tell you exactly what it is, but I know for me, the magic, fantasy, and adventure all combine to provide a fun, memorable experience. As with most fantasy films, The NeverEnding Story has elements of the supernatural and beyond, such as massive creatures, princesses, and all sorts of mystical places to pass through. But it also has some roots in the real world, which I think enhances the movie, as it gives us more perspective and allows for a plug to kids, to let them know how fun reading can be.

Video: How does it look?

It’s been quite some time since I’ve sat down and watched “The Never Ending Story” and I remember it from my childhood (wow, has it been that long) back before the days I analyzed what everything looked like on screen. That said the 2.35:1 VC-1 HD transfer looks fairly decent, holding up very well over 25 years. There are some shots with some fairly heavy artifacting and a bit of grain on the print, but by and large the overall image quality is far superior than I remember it being. Detail is highly improved, just check out the rock man for an example of that (“These used to be such strong hands”). Contrast and black levels are also improved for some richer colors. Some of the scenes appear at bit dingy, but they’re few and far between and I feel that with my expectations as low as they were, I was pleasantly surprised.

Audio: How does it sound?

The back of the Blu-ray box makes a big deal about this being “The first time in 5.1 audio” and by “big deal” I mean the font is bold and it’s got a white border around it. Still the DTS HD Master Audio track does give a depth to the soundtrack that I’d not heard before. Again, when I was watching this movie as a kid, it was on a 4:3 TV with the built in speakers so listening to this in a 5.1 soundtrack does make somewhat of a difference. The soundtrack takes center stage with some very agressive moments here and there. Dialogue is surprisingly clean and the surrounds are quite active – moreso than I thought they’d be. Again, I was tickled at how good this actually sounded.?

Supplements: What are the extras?

I’m hard-pressed to find any supplements on this disc, even the trailer and cast bios that were on the standard DVD are not present. Hmmm.

Disc Features
  • (2.35:1) Aspect Ratio
  • Video Codec: VC-1
  • Audio: DTS HD Master
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Audio Commentary
  • Deleted Scene(s)
  • Featurette
  • Documentary
  • Digital Copy
  • 1 Disc Set
The Never Ending Story (Blu-ray)

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Extras