The NEVER-ENDING STORY Vs. LABYRINTH: Who will be the Fantasy Feud Victor? | LightTrain

Greetings and salutations, I’m the conductor of the Lighttrain and thank you very much for tuning in this week! The 80s were a strange decade, that’s one thing that’s for sure. It was a creative goldmine, blessing us all with innovative films, games and whatnot that stretched the limits. Fantasy particularly flourished during this period, and today we’re talking about two of such movies, The NeverEnding Story and Labyrinth. Before we continue further, special thanks to all of you for your patience and encouragement during this busy time of my life; it really helps a ton! Okay, on with the show.

This is a new format of a review so let me take a paragraph, although a brief one at that, to explain how I’m going to work it out. I’ve watched both of these films and wrote notes on 4 main subjects both movies shared to see which did that subject better. I’ll discuss both in the topic and at the end of each one give the winning movie a tally. Since their are four subjects, the film with three tallies wins overall; On a 2/2 score, it’s a tie. This time around, I don’t believe summarizing the plots of both are necessarily important so let’s just jump right into the meat of the matter.

Point Numero Uno: Special/Practical Effects

To answer, no, I’m not entirety sure why I wrote that segment in Spanish. Maybe I thought it would be funny, and boy do we need humour right now don’t we. Anyways, let’s talk about the effects, shall we? First, Labyrinth. This film was the love child of Jim Henson of Muppets fame, so I shouldn’t have been surprised by the masterful puppetry work done here. Although some of these models can pass as a little offputting, the team really put blood and sweat into this project, and it shows. I found myself wondering how they did various scenes, particularly a part involving many sentient hands. That’s a good sign when I question how you pulled such feats off. Granted, there were a couple of puppet strings I managed to catch but even those didn’t suck me out of the world.

Now we move across the fence over to The NeverEnding Story to see if the grass is truly greener. While the effects were serviceable enough, some were cheap-looking and haven’t aged the best. Specifically the major selling point that is Falkor the “luckdragon”, who I found the fact that he was indeed an animatronic was obvious. Yikes. I do like the backgrounds though, but not enough for me to warrant it any high praise. I think the worst element with the effects were the green and/or blue screen, that of which didn’t fool me for a second. Not a good start for The NeverEnding Story, is it. Don’t worry, it could still catch up, but for now Labyrinth wins the tally.

Labyrinth (1/0) The NeverEnding Story

Point Numero Dos: Characters

I guess I’m rolling with the Spanish numbering now, aren’t I… Oh right, characters. Labyrinth does have the popular glam rock artist David Bowie playing Jareth the goblin king, and yes, he may be the most interesting character here. He isn’t explored very much though, leaving his villain rather flat. It’s like putting cookie dough balls on a baking sheet but not putting them in the oven; still good, just lacking the essence of a cookie, or in this case, villain. Everyone else is kind of obnoxious, with the whiney lead female protagonist Sarah being arguably worse than most of the labyrinth’s inhabitants. Well, second only to a tribe of furry, blood-orange colored abominations that mug the screen for about four dreadful minutes. Urgh.

NeverEnding Story doesn’t have spectacular characters either, but this is a kind of tale that doesn’t need a complex or compelling main cast, with one exception. The whole plot depends on this young boy, who has something of a spiritual presence in the world of the book. Now, I don’t plan on having any kids, but I found this boy was an accurate depiction of someone his age. He acts like one in that he counteracts and is antsy but never becomes annoying. I hope that described it well enough. None of the side-characters were obnoxious either, not too memorable but they fit into their role’s mold fair enough. So for now, NeverEnding Story takes the tally this time, temporarily.

Labyrinth (1/1) The NeverEnding Story

Point Numero Tres: Atmosphere/Tone

The tone of your film is a key component in my humble film-brain opinion, and when making a movie it’s always a good idea to determine your project’s tone… and stick with it! I’m going to be observing the two duelists in this light here. Beginning yet again with Labyrinth, the atmosphere is set to be sort of surreal and whimsical, like Alice in Wonderland in various ways. And if you think of it as a spiritual successor to Wonderland, like Everyone Wants Some!!! is to Dazed and Confused, then you may have a fun time. It’s not meant to be thought-provoking, and it knows this as well.

While one of our fighters is more whimsical and a goofball, the other views things much more grim. I like this combination of tones, as you will see in Volt Vulture; I found that my storytelling style has lots of whimsy, especially in the characters, added with a darker approach with the humour and dialogue. But here we see them separated, which leads to this enticing conversation. The setting of NeverEnding Story is being folded in a growing darkness, known as the “nothing” , which sucks a lot of possible color and majestics from the world. I’m not against hard, grim fantasies if done maybe a little better; like my opening statement, I’m not sure that NeverEnding Story knew what atmosphere it was aiming for, so I feel like Labyrinth earns another tally.

Labyrinth (2/1) The NeverEnding Story

Point Numero Final: World

Ah yes, the final matchup. 2/1; If Labyrinth wins this tally it wins the entire match. Speaking of which, the setting of said movie is, well, a labyrinth. They explore many areas of the maze, giving us what I believe is only a glimpse of the odd creatures that abide within. While watching, I actually considered writing a story that takes place entirety within a maze, however I have not as of yet. I did want to wander around a little longer if I could even though, or course, I cannot.

Like I have dipped into in the previous quarter, the world of NeverEnding Story is a rather bleak and lifeless place, and that’s the films whole intention. In the rightful manner, I will look at it as such, ignoring any comparison to the former. If I were to choose a world, I would go for this one, thanks to the artistic design. If I were to nitpick at it, emphasizing the setting would have to be a big one. Another fault is after the movie was completed, I didn’t remember any distinct elements about the world that set it apart from any other fill-in-the-blank fantasy land. For those issues I’m giving the third and winning tally to Labyrinth to end this duel. Despite lacking significantly in the character department, Jim Henson and his team brought us a gorgeous land to explore and a lighthearted tone set in solid stone to delight in.

Enjoy your 4th of July with the firework shows and bbq dinners you can manage. Thank you for tuning into this film duel on the Lighttrain, wear a mask, wash your hands and don’t write Spanish numbers like I did. Catch you later.


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NEXT | The History and Retrospective of Dragon’s Lair, and how it Falls Flat

9 thoughts on “The NEVER-ENDING STORY Vs. LABYRINTH: Who will be the Fantasy Feud Victor? | LightTrain

  1. NeverEnding Story definitely felt like it would never end, no matter how much I wanted it to. The only elements that stood out for me are the ones I couldn’t stand… Yeah me and this film don’t have a nice relationship if you can’t tell.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Well, even I must say we can’t go to Out of control, we still have to keep social distance. If we don’t, the cycle of the corona will keep on keeping on. We wouldn’t want that.

        Liked by 1 person

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