Neverwas

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Rating: PG-13

Starring:
Aaron Eckhart as Zach Riley
Ian McKellen as Gabriel Finch
William Hurt as Dr. Peter Reed
Bill Bellamy as Martin Sands
Michael Moriarty as Dick
Ken Roberts as Terrence
Alan Cumming as Patrick Sayde
Vera Farmiga as Eleanna
Lorena Gale as Judy
Jessica Lange as Katherine Pierson
Jo-Ann MacDonald as Amanda
Brittany Murphy as Ally
Nick Nolte as T.L. Pierson
Cynthia Stevenson as Sally

Special Features:
None

Other Info:
Widescreen (2.35:1)
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
French and Spanish Subtitles
Running Time: 108 Minutes

Synopsis:
The following is from the official DVD description:

“Weaving together fantasy and reality, past and present, ‘Neverwas’ is the enchantment-filled, life-affirming tale about a young man (Aaron Eckhart) who finds out his childhood fantasyland may really exist. Searching for insight into his father’s (Nick Nolte) life and the magical place he wrote about in the beloved children’s book, Neverwas, psychiatrist Zach Riley (Eckhart) takes a job at the institution where he lived on and off. Once there, Zach meets Gabriel (Sir Ian McKellen), a patient whose alternate reality is startlingly close to the world his father created. Featuring a critically acclaimed all-star cast that also includes William Hurt, Jessica Lange and Brittany Murphy, ‘Neverwas’ is a magical and moving journey of discovery you won’t soon forget.”

“Neverwas” is rated PG-13 for thematic issues

Mini-Review:
“Neverwas” is kind of a strange film. It had a first rate cast and an interesting premise, but it was released theatrically internationally in 2005 and was sent straight to DVD in the US in 2007. It fact, it was pretty much dumped on DVD without any bonus features or fanfare. While I wasn’t overly impressed with “Neverwas,” I will say it probably deserved better treatment than it got.

The DVD cover gives you the impression that this is some sort of fantasy film, but it isn’t. It’s more like “The Fisher King” or an adult version of “Bridge to Terabithia.” The fantasy elements are more products of the imagination, or delusion, than anything else. In fact, there are no special effects in this movie.

As already mentioned, the cast is amazing. Many of your favorite actors appear in this film. Favorites like Ian McKellen, William Hurt, Nick Nolte, Alan Cumming, and Jessica Lange all have moments to shine. The cover also has Brittany Murphy front and center in the photos, but her role is fairly minor compared to that of McKellen or Aaron Eckhart.

“Neverwas” has several problems. First of all, it’s a bit dull. The story is rather slow and plodding in its pacing. It’s also quite depressing for much of the story. Aaron Eckhart as Zach Riley sinks deeper and deeper into depression as he learns more about his father’s past. “Neverwas” also seems to have problems finding the right tone. It’s too dark and depressing for a fairy tale, but too light for a drama. It’s too grounded in reality to be a fantasy but a bit silly to be considered seriously.

I would really only recommend “Neverwas” to fans of Ian McKellen or Aaron Eckhart. This film really showcases their talents and their fans are going to be most forgiving of the movie’s flaws.

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