The NeverEnding StoryRelease Date: Available now
Studio: Warner Brothers
Packaging/Materials: Single-disc Blu-ray case
Running Time: 1:34:00
|Video||1080p high definition 16x9 2.35:1|
|Audio||DTS-HD Master Audio: English 5.1 / Dolby Digital: French 2.0 and Portuguese|
|Subtitles||English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Danish, Finnish, Norwegian, Swedish|
The Feature: 4/5Still grieving over the loss of his mother, emotionally neglected by his father, and the victim of bullying by classmates, Bastian (Barret Oliver) spends much of his time lost in books. Ducking into a mysterious shop to flee the latest round of abuse, he comes across an intriguing tome called The NeverEnding Story. Unable to resist its allure, he borrows it and hides in the school attic to read through its voluminous pages. Telling the story of the land of Fantasia, its impending destruction by a malevolent force called The Nothing, and the efforts by the native boy Atreju (Noah Hathaway) to save his home, The NeverEnding Story proves to be an absorbing tale. Though Bastian has been caught up in stories before, this particular one will do it in a rather unexpected way, challenging the depths of his imagination and ultimately his sense of self-worth.
Adapted from Michael Ende's German language novel, "The NeverEnding Story" is impressive for its presentation of a fully formed and confidently fantastical world, though the seams of its adaptation to film show through at times. Most notably the narrative moves too swiftly in the first act, with the barest amount of time given for viewers to find their footing in the new environment. Fortunately, by the time Atreju faces his first major challenge, the feelings of disorientation and the impulse to catch up have largely passed. For younger audiences, to whom the film will appeal the most, this won't likely matter. The visual style, special effects, and wondrous quality of the characters and settings will undoubtedly embed the film in children's memories for years. Though somehow the movie never made it into my childhood viewing experiences, I would not hesitate to share it with or recommend it to any young person today.
Video Quality: 4/5The film is accurately framed at 2.35:1 and presented in 1080p with the VC-1 codec. Contrast generally displays the full range of values, but there are some moments when the image looks a little flat or overly contrasty, obscuring shadow detail. Fine object detail is quite good, creating a satisfying clarity in hair and fabrics with no indication of digital sharpening measures. Colors appear deep and nicely saturated, particularly with reds and oranges, though flesh tones are pinkish in a few scenes and one scene displays some visible color shifts. There are other issues inherent to the source - flickering, white "sparkle" and dust blobs - but they tend to be understandable given the age of the film. With the visible and healthy grain structure, the image also shows no signs of excessive noise reduction measures.
Audio Quality: 3.5/5Apparently presented for the first time in 5.1 audio (at least for this Blu-ray region), the DTS-HD Master Audio track would be great if it weren't for its excessive levels of LFE. Though it certainly has a "wow" factor, it's not integrated with the rest of the array and stands out like a lone tree in the middle of a grassy plain. At one point I had to turn down the volume, afraid that I would get the dreaded "clack" from my subwoofer bottoming out. That aside, the track has good detail and clarity in its center channel and the surround channel mix, providing slight environmental and directional effects, seems balanced.
Special Features: 0/5This may be the first Blu-ray I've reviewed that doesn't have a single extra. Though I'm admittedly not the most enthusiastic about special features, at least a theatrical trailer or TV spot would have been appreciated.
RecapThe Feature: 4/5
Video Quality: 4/5
Audio Quality: 3.5/5
Special Features: 0/5
Overall Score (not an average): 3.5/5
Warner Brothers turns in a satisfying video presentation - but a notably unbalanced audio presentation - for an entertainingly fantastical children's movie. With nary a special feature, the Blu-ray release is the very definition of "bare bones."