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The NeverEnding Story III Review

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Balthazar happens upon the magical Neverending Story book in the school library and finds himself in the magical land of Fantasia located within its pages. Yet no sooner has Balthazar transferred there, than the book drops into the nefarious paws of a gang of school bullies called The Nasties, their resultant skulduggery with said enchanted tome threatening to destroy Fantasia.

★★★★★

The Neverending Story saga wasn't exactly crying out for another sequel, and as soon as you're presented with the contrivance necessary to once again prise open the franchise, things don't look too hopeful. This time around the lead character Balthazar (Richter, the lad in Free Willy) happens upon the magical Neverending Story book in the school library and finds himself in the magical land of Fantasia located within its pages.

Yet no sooner has Balthazar transferred there, than the book drops into the nefarious paws of a gang of school bullies called The Nasties, their resultant skulduggery with said enchanted tome threatening to destroy Fantasia. Cue our blue-eyed hero's return to Earth in an attempt to rescue the book and save Fantasia from destruction - landing himself with a tree-like troll, a baby rock-chewer, a luck dragon and two gnomes.

The young cast, led by Richter and Kay (as his snide step-sister), provides spirited and schmaltz-free turns, but are stifled by the film's woodenness. It is easily the cheesiest episode in the trilogy, suffering from sentimentality and limp storytelling. Shifting the action from the day-glo sets of Fantasia to downtown Vancouver is an encouraging attempt to butter stale bread, but between the intermittent use of some fine computer effects, most of the fantasy-for-real stuff is, frankly, shoddy. Considering that this offering is pitched at a generation of youngsters weaned on Jurassic Park and The Mask, it's quite likely that there'll be indignant cries of "Hey, that's a man in a rubber suit!" echoing around the auditorium.

The young cast, led by Richter and Kay, provides spirited and schmaltz-free turns, but are stifled by the film's woodenness

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