Review: The NeverEnding Story (1984) spoilers included

The NeverEnding Story (1984)

Rating U

Length 1hr 42

Release 4.4.1985

Director Wolfgang Peterson

About A troubled boy dives into a wondrous fantasy world through the pages of a mysterious book


The Good

The physical effects are amazing considering the time. The dragon Rankor is a delight to watch. They’re not Jim Henson quality, but they have charm and grandeur.

Arteyu is a solid character that I really felt for. The actor, Noah Hathaway, brought a strength to the role that you don’t often find and with another actor he may have seemed whingey and petulant. I almost wish they’d done away with the meta layering and told me a straight story about Arteyu.

It has that vibe all children’s films had at that time; adventure that may or may not be real. now with added nostalgia to keep it as a firm favourite. For everyone but me, that is.

The Bad

The meta is handled better in films like The Lego Movie. I found the passing back and forth between Bastian and Arteyu a little clunky and distracted me from engaging with either one. I felt almost as if we spent a little too long with Bastian at the beginning with no payoff at the end.

Artax (the horse) dies way, way, way too soon. Had I have seen it as a kid, perhaps I’d have felt more. However, this is a time in which I’ve cried over a messenger owl I’ve gotten to know well over 6 books, I need a little more engagement to feel the loss. Plus, Marvel making me cry over so many characters (yes, I’m looking at you Loki) to discover they’re not quite dead yet, means this just felt lacklustre.

The Ugly

– For me, the biggest problem with this film is that we never have our three main players, Bastian, Arreyu and the Childlike Empress, in the same scene. The fact that Bastian never has a conversation with Arteyu was a massive blow for me.

Final Thoughts

-Why does it have to be so depressing? Yeah, I know we get that ‘upbeat’ ending… but it all feels a little rushed and so I didn’t end the film feeling uplifted.

I wish it had remained in my ‘Ive not seen…’ pile. My only worry now is; if I ever have kids, I HAVE to show them this. It would just be my luck that it ends up their favourite.

Ghostbusters (1984)

Rating PG

Length 1Hr 45

Release 7.12.1984

About After the members of a team of scientists (Harold Ramis, Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray) lose their cushy positions at a university in New York City, they decide to become “ghostbusters” to wage a high-tech battle with the supernatural for money. They stumble upon a gateway to another dimension, a doorway that will release evil upon the city. The Ghostbusters must now save New York from complete destruction.


First Thoughts

I wanted to be a Ghostbuster. I loved this movie as a kid and I have a very distinct memory of putting it on one Saturday afternoon after a shopping trip in which I bought foam shrimp. I also remember begging for Ghostbusters crisps and them not being in the bags when we got home and being very upset.

Harold Ramis’ Egon was my guy. He kept a level voice and didn’t shout like the other two.

Treat

  • Bill Murray is the star of this film. Yes, it’s an ensemble but he steals every scene he’s in. Everything about the character screams you should hate him, but he’s rather charming and adds an odd sense of dry and sardonic normalcy to the childlike eccentricity of Ray and Egon. He’s set up as a bit of a Shatner (Womaniser), but having him deny Zuul/Dana shows his true persona.
  • It’s a celebration of the geek, without having to put anyone else down. It’s not at the expense of others and it’s science doesn’t alienate the audience. I feel almost as if this is what TV’s Big Bang Theory wanted to be, but couldn’t get past the cheap jokes that put people down.
  • The effects are relatively good for a retrospective viewing. Certainly everything from the opening sequence works, including the ghost itself. It’s tone is still still that of unsettling fear and that’s largely to do with the physical effects and the supporting music.
  • Sigourney Weaver’s Dana Barrett is fucking awesome: she’s a thirty-something living alone in New York, without a complex. She’s a brilliant career, a nice apartment and no time for Venkman’s bullshit. Weaver seems to have fun breaking away from her genderless Alien persona to give us a more feminine and light hearted character.
  • It’s an interesting narrative that is built up in layers and doesn’t give us too many showcase scenes. By the final act you realise it’s all interconnected and brings you to a showdown with Gozer; a casual name drop from the first act.

Trick

  • I fucking hate Louis. There’s annoying and then there’s this cretin who stole his wardrobe from Jimmy Saville. I normally love any role played by Rick Moranis, but this takes his whine up to 11 and I just wish he’d died when the Terror Dogs go all American Werewolf in his ass.
  • Behind the scenes I find it a bit shitty that Winston’s screen time was reduced because Eddie Murphy reportedly turned down the part. Ernie Hudson’s Winston provides a balance, much in the same way Venkman does and I’d have been thankful for that appearing sooner. The added bonus being that he would be given time to develop the character.
  • The only effects that present a problem are the Terror Dogs. It’s not so much that they look bad, it’s that there’s a very clear distinction between the animatronic and the animated versions. Some have suggested this is to do with a change in the lighting on later releases that brings our attention to it and I’d say that’s a fair assumption. That said, I’ll put up with those minor blips for the eerie capture of Dana in her apartment.

Final Thoughts

I still want to be a Ghostbuster and Egon is still my guy; perhaps it’s the quasi-autistic persona he displays alongside his brilliant mind and I’m so glad there’s going to be a new movie next year.

The Terminator (1984)

Rating: 15

Length: 1Hr 47

Release: 11.1.1985

About: Disguised as a human, a cyborg assassin known as a Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger) travels from 2029 to 1984 to kill Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton). Sent to protect Sarah is Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn), who divulges the coming of Skynet, an artificial intelligence system that will spark a nuclear holocaust. Sarah is targeted because Skynet knows that her unborn son will lead the fight against them. With the virtually unstoppable Terminator in hot pursuit, she and Kyle attempt to escape.


The Good

  • As much as the arriving naked baffles me (and suffers from the sequels almost lampooning the process), I do love Kyle Reese’s Supermarket Sweep of what I could imagine being the ‘things’ everyone would go on to wear in 1985.
  • The gritty colourisation that is almost the definition of 80s movies. I feel at home with it and it hides some of the film’s ageing and instead gives it the retro feel that Stranger Things has painfully replicated.
  • The two dream sequences gives a better look at the post-apocalyptic future than any of the future movies do. While watching the first dream sequence I actually thought about how this franchise has perhaps kept hold of the time-travel assassin trope (fuck, they’ve over used it so much it’s become a trope!) for too long. What the franchise needs is a war movie. Show the audience these cyborgs in a different genre.
  • I remember being a kid and being scared by The Terminator. I still felt that apprehension and the key is in the lack of dialogue. There’s no reasoning with him; he’s a juggernaut computer with an ass you could bounce coins off.
  • Sarah Connor is one of the best female protagonists with one of the best character development. She stands among Leia, Ripley and others as a character who shows strength in a male dominated genre. What sets Connor apart is her development from traumatised to the bad ass she becomes in Judgement Day. It’s subtle but there’s a line and when you hear it, you know she’s no longer the same.

The Bad

  • There are some scenes towards the end in which Arnie looks like he’s in the French Revolution or a girl who has a heavy hand with a foundation that’s twenty shades out. It’s really hard to tell if this is something that hasn’t ‘aged well’ or a shit make up job so I have to write it up.
  • The stop motion sticks out in some parts and I put it in the bad, not because of it not ageing well, but because it is only about 5% of the footage that doesn’t look right, suggesting inconsistencies. It certainly looks better than, the opening sequence of Lockout (2012), for example. Plus, I personally would take stop motion over CGI any day. Except for Jurassic Park (Sorry, Phil Tippett).

The Ugly

  • “You’re terminated, fucker.” It’s strange that as someone who loves her puns and adores these sort of wise cracks in Buffy, I rolled my eyes and groaned at this death nell for the Terminator. Again, I feel it’s the sequels that actually harms this film more than the film in, and of, itself and what it perhaps just a line rings a little hammy.

Final Thoughts

A solid classic, only tainted by the tonal shift of the sequels.

A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

Rating: 18

Length: 1Hr 31

Release: 23.8.1985

About: In Wes Craven’s classic slasher film, several Midwestern teenagers fall prey to Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund), a disfigured midnight mangler who preys on the teenagers in their dreams — which, in turn, kills them in reality. After investigating the phenomenon, Nancy (Heather Langenkamp) begins to suspect that a dark secret kept by her and her friends’ parents may be the key to unraveling the mystery, but can Nancy and her boyfriend Glen (Johnny Depp) solve the puzzle before it’s too late?


The Good

  • It’s opening is quite interesting even if it feels like I’ve entered the industrial zone of the Crystal Maze. We’re thrown into a situation already in action. It’s full throttle from the get go and actually makes the audience a little off kilter. There’s nothing better than throwing you out of your comfort zone to bring the fear.

The Bad

  • Fred Krueger. Unfortunately, he’s a little too cartoonish to be fearful and as we see him within the first 30 seconds of the movie, I feel there’s an element of over exposure.
  • I’m not sure if the film was trying to keep the cast down, but the plot and motivation of Fred Krueger doesn’t quite match up with how the victims are picked. The mother’s revelation is a little hard to follow and I feel it implies she is solely responsible for Fred’s death.

The Ugly

  • Nancy, Nancy, Nancy! Why didn’t she die? Why was she such a shit actress who had two settings: monotone or SCREAMING EVERYTHING. In fact, there wasn’t really any acting (read: no facial expressions or responses to anything being said to her) at all. The best way to see the appalling acting is when she’s listening to her friend, Tina, recount her dream. Nancy reads a line that indicates Nancy has prompted her to remember her own dream. But nothing, LITERALLY NOTHING, about her body language suggests she finds the dream familiar.
  • I don’t even feel bad saying this, but I was rooting for ol’ Krueger. I felt, on irritation factor alone, she deserved to die. You know there’s something wrong when I’m rooting for a child slasher to win.

Final Thoughts

Little too small town Stephen King storytelling with a Sarah from the Labyrinth casting reject makes this an underwhelming watch for me.

Christmas Film Advent- Gremlins (1984)

Christmas carolers. I hate Christmas carolers. Screechy-voiced little glue sniffers.

Length: 1Hr 47

Rating: PG

About: A gadget salesman is looking for a special gift for his son and finds one at a store in Chinatown. The shopkeeper is reluctant to sell him the `mogwai’ but sells it to him with the warning to never expose him to bright light, water, or to feed him after midnight. All of this happens and the result is a gang of gremlins that decide to tear up the town on Christmas Eve.

First Thoughts

This was horror film to me for many years. It scared the crap out of me. Obviously Gizmo was adorable and cute, but the creations of the after midnight feast was petrifying.

I wasn’t looking forward to watching this, and I wasn’t sure why. It recent years it’s become a classic that has stood up against some modern movies of similar ilk.

The Naughty List

  • What the hell was that Phoebe Cates monologue about?! “That’s how I found out there was no Santa Claus.” What the fuck? How do we go over an hour without knowing that this sweet slice of American pie loathes Christmas like a Grinch? While we’re at it, there’s no mention of her dad being dead. Just don’t think we need it
  • What happened to Judge Reinhold? They set him up as this massive dick and slime ball who has his sights on Phoebe Cate’s Kate. It’s brilliant; Zach has a challenger for her affections (It doesn’t matter whether Kate has any interest in him, Zach is worried that she might and that’s enough). Reinhold either needs a character development in which he helps them fight the gremlins or he needs to see his gristly end at the hands of Stripe.
  • Another dropped character was Corey Feldman’s Pete. Considering this is written by Chris Columbus, who is known for his friendship group films The Goonies and Harry Potter, its ripe for grouping the young ones together to fight.

The Nice List

  • The music is brilliant. I love the way in which it progresses from the theme of gizmo to the much more complex gremlin theme. This is certain a film I would love to see with a live orchestra.
  • I love the first hour’s set up. I’d mis remembered the wicked witch music playing when Mrs Deagle blasts through town and into the bank. I loved the way her character is disposed of by the gremlins; it’s quite possibly my favourite scene; even if it wasn’t when I first watched it.
  • I love that one of the most auctioned filled scenes is the one in which Zach’s mother, Lynn, gets to be a massive bad ass and take on the gremlins single handed. She does really well and dispatches at least two of the bastards before one attempts to strangle her.
  • The chief of police getting his after the shit he gives Zach is pure genius. I especially love his second in command’s mutters of fear.

Final Thoughts

I’m actually still not sure how I feel about it today. I feel as if the second half needs a little more work to match the first and I found myself feeling really restless once Kate’s ‘I hate Christmas’ blabbings.

I also feel it would have been improved by having Feldman and Reinhold joining forces to help beat the “little green men”.