Danny’s review published on Letterboxd:
I don’t want to shit on this film because I know how much of a classic it is and it’s kind of a staple of the 80s but this really didn’t do it for me. The theme song for the movie is more memorable and beloved than the movie itself and there’s probably good reason for that after watching it. I can’t fault the production design or the practical effects, I can’t fault most of the musical elements and it also contained some pretty surprisingly good cinematography as well as having a strong start. My main problem with this movie was the pacing in Fantasia and how I literally watched a kid waddle over to some underdeveloped funky character who he sees for a little bit and then moves on and does the same thing again (none of them were very memorable to me either aside from the stone monster and big ass dragon and even that might be from pop culture). The ‘big sad moment’ (because I’m avoiding spoiling a film from the 80s for some reason) that everyone always talks about isn’t even that deep because you’ve been with the character for all of 5 minutes and the acting wasn’t exactly Oscar worthy although it still sells a bit of emotion. Which brings me to the acting: they’re kids so I’m not gonna say too much other than it’s far from great. Then there’s just the bullshit rules of the film like the kid entering the book somehow and the whole plot literally just being “go and do something to save the princess” in which we’re as clueless as the protagonist should be to what is going on.
To conclude, I don’t judge anyone who likes this film at all because, watching it as a kid or managing to really get lost in the more magical elements, and I imagine it’s pretty great but it wasn’t enthralling me enough to have that hold over me. It’s not bad but it’s definitely flawed in quite a few regards and I personally found the adventure to be very substandard and forgettable. Out of the holy trio of 80s family adventure movies (The Dark Crystal, Labyrinth and this) I think this is by far the most inferior of the three but the positives I listed at the start are the saving graces which are mostly in the production elements. I do like the idea of everyone having a story and being in a book or film or something hence the titular phrase ‘never ending story’ and the song still kicks ass but sadly this film kicked my ass a little by feeling overly long in several parts... almost like it was... neverending 😱.