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|Index||226 reviews in total|
With the advancement of movie technology today, I am awaiting a re-make
of this film as I can see the enhancement of the Armageddon-like
atmosphere of this movie.
Even though this film came out on the heels of Star Wars I feel that for its time and its budget it was awesome and very much overlooked. I think in this case, being a Disney film, didn't help its image either. As a kid this movie scared the pants off of me. It was dark and menacing and there was the big black hole staring me in the face the whole movie. (I can still recall the extent of the willies this movie game me).
While flawed I see this movie as an artistic and hard core science fiction classic. It uses many of what I see as key elements in science fiction - known science, theoretical science, possible futures, and our fear of the unknown (I personally think even with what we know, we still know very little about black holes).
This movie was made in the feel of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and Moby Dick, with the mad, yet brilliant captain, sailing a state of the art ship, knowingly, into certain and utter doom in the name of some idealistic obsession. And as it usually goes you have your idealistic yet rational unwilling passengers who want to get off the ship and survive the mad man's nightmarish dreams.
The robots, while used in a highly symbolic fashion, were original in their concept and design. I particularly liked the way V.I.N.C.E.N.T. and B.O.B. were constructed as the "avatars" of humanity - completely man-made with human-like eyes and a "soul", that only allowed them to see the "right" side of things - as we see them. While on the other hand Maximilian was brilliant as the epitome of evil and twisted humanity in this movie - a man silently trapped and condemned to an inhuman fate as part of a mechanical nightmare.
Lastly, I feel that the space backdrops and the internal renderings of the space ship, which I feel have somewhat of an impressionistic flair, are awesome and were very well done for the period. If you passed on this movie the first time I recommend giving it a second chance. Take in the movie - see its symbolism, its social commentaries and far reaching vision. I think some of the issues the movie quietly addresses are still relative today.
Back in 1979, when this first came out, this could be seen coming down Main
Street as a "Star Wars" cash-in. Even I could see that (being 14 at the
At the time, it was being hailed by everyone whom had not seen it as a return to cerebral, thought-provoking space opera, with the same kind of reverberations as "2001".
Now, let me tell you the truth about "The Black Hole".
From a technical standpoint, the movie is impressive (moreso when you consider that Harrison and Peter Ellenshaw, virtuosos in matte paintings, did the background FX work). The ships all fly as they should, you can BARELY see the robots flying about on their strings and the wonder and mystery of what a black hole really is (physically as well as metaphorically) are explored satisfactorily.
But if the FX are exemplary, the flesh and blood on display are not. Each actor supplies their own black hole; empty, dark voids where there once was talent but now serve only to suck away all the life and energy surrounding it. A shame, since actors like Forster, Mimieux, Schell, Perkins and even Roddy McDowell (in voice only) have all done good deeds on film prior and since. In the acting sense, at least, this movie matches "2001".
But in the end, you see a movie like "The Black Hole" for the story itself. Is it worth watching? In that respect, I think so. What are the limits to which mankind can play God? Are the mysteries of the universe for Man to explore? Do black holes lead to anything? We are left to draw our own conclusions, but at least the ending here allows us to think seriously about what really is out there.
Eight stars. Not a classic, but not that vacuous.
I saw this movie in the theater when I was 6 years old. So you have to
remember that frame of reference when you read these comments.
I saw The Black Hole when I was six years old and, of course, I loved it. Although what I remember the most about that experience was my first glimpse of Maximilian, the giant killer red robot. Maximilian terrified me. And he ended up being the first movie character to ever really scare the crap out of me.
If you were 6 years old kid in 1980, you would remember this film. Because even though it's silly to make the comparison today, at one time the Black Hole held a special place in the hearts of kids everywhere, mainly because it featured a character who was even scarier than Darth Vader.
That's right, Star Wars came 2 years earlier than the Black Hole, and Star Wars had a frightening guy in a black mask named Darth Vader. But let me tell you that to a kid growing up in 1980, Darth Vader was NOTHING compared to Maximilian. Darth Vader was a pansy compared to Maximilian, and I'm not just joking around. If you were a little kid in 1980, you knew about this movie. And you knew who Maximilian was. And you spoke about him in terms of reverence. Because you don't mock the robot who haunts your nightmares every single night.
That's how big a deal Maximilan was at the time.
Yes, The Black Hole has flaws. Yes, the rest of the robots are comical. And yes, the science fiction in the movie makes no sense. And sure, I'd agree that the sight of Ernest Borgnine in a tight turtleneck is disturbing and I never want to see it again. But none of that really matters to me. All I care about is that this movie features Maxmilian the bleeping killer red robot. And from a pop culture/movie history perspective, that makes this movie a classic.
Personally, I think that the Black Hole is a pretty lame movie. But in 1980 I would have ranked it alongside Star Wars as the coolest thing I had ever seen in my life. And of course, that is almost solely because of Maximilian. So don't make fun of this movie. Just remember that it cause a lot of nightmares in kids from the 70's and early 80's. And please give it props for featuring a villain that (at one time) was cooler and scarier than a guy named Darth Vader.
So here's to you, Maximilian.
Please don't Cuisinart me through a book.
Mario's Movie Rating: 5 out of 10 (at least it's somewhat entertaining)
Mario's Maximilian Rating: 10 of 10
This movie features the worst acting performances of an entire group of talented actors. I would hold up on getting in line for Disney's Star Wars. This was released with the Motionless Picture and it was neck and neck for which one would stink it up the most. The movie was gone from all the theaters in three weeks including the drive ins. Each actor had a great movie in his career: Borgnine: The Poseidon Adventure, Perkins: Psycho and Bottoms: The Paper Chase. Disney director Gary Nelson gets the worst acting you will see in a movie from the entire decade of the 1970s. The rumors, after the movie bombed, were that he was intimidated by the cast and would not do more than one or two takes. Even the legendary Maximillian Schell gives his worst performance. The film mimics the Motionless Picture in the long, slow, loving camera tour of the Cygnus that you could bake a cake during. Do you enjoy long angle shots of a poorly glued model with a rotating Blue Hole in the background? I know, apparently, the effects team never read the title of the movie. Once aboard the ghost ship Cygnus, we get a bad rendition of Captain Ahab; The Black Hole years, with his pet robot whom we can clearly see the wires he is dangling from the crane with.
The Eastgate opened this in their 550, within a week it was moved to the 220 and finally the 110. By the third week, it was gone. The bad acting is equaled by the boredom. A cheap attempt to rip off the Crell tour of Forbidden Planet that will make you miss Walter Pidgeon. The highlight is a shooting contest between our Porty potty with Mcdowell's voice and S.T.A.R. Boring! Want to know how bad it is? Slim Pickens who played another Porty potty had his name taken off the credits for a reason. He was embarrassed to be associated with one of the worst science fictions in the history of film. Disney has a meteor right next to the cast on fire and nobody told the geniuses that they would have burst into flame, what until you see it. That was the director, Gary Nelson, what a genius! The cast finds out that the captain killed everybody and tries to escape except Perkins who has fallen in love with Ahab. The pet robot on wires activates his margarita mixer and so much for Perkins. The bulk of the movie is the crew creeping around the empty ship like they are looking for the restroom. It is slow, boring and badly written and acted.
The ending is still being debated to this day. It is really not that hard to decipher. Disney wanted to give every group their own ending and blended them, like a retard, all together. Heaven and Hell; for the religious, A white hole; for the scientific and a rotating image spinning until you will puke to convey nebulosity. Sorry, pick an ending dummies. See, after people sat for two hours waiting for the resolution; they get postal if you give them three endings and say: pick one. Young people, do not buy this movie. It is boring beyond belief. If you want to see them spend a half an hour creeping around the Cygnus with nothing happening: go ahead, I warned you. Want to know what the most frequent evaluation was heard as we were filing out? WHAT A PIECE OF CRAP THAT WAS!! It was then and it still is.
Not only is The Black Hole beautifully made from a technical aspect, it has marvelous performances. Robert Forester (Jackie Brown), Anthony Perkins (Psycho), Ernest Borgnine, Maximillian Schell. It does get a little campy but it is a Disney movie after all and it can be forgiven its attempts at comic relief. This is a very unlikely sort of film for Disney, were it made today it would have been made under the Miramax header rather than Disney, and like another unlikely Disney film, Tron, it is tragically underrated. The special effects and set design are breathtaking, but it is the script which is the best part. The ending is one of the most surreal and haunting in any science fiction film (and especially bold for a Disney film) The characterizations are wonderful and the robots, especially Maximillian (in my book the greatest cinematic robotic villain to date), are unforgettable.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I saw this new in the theater when I was a little kid, and revisited it
last night with my wife.
She still isn't speaking to me, and has taken control of the Netflix queue for the foreseeable future. Her last words to me were to the effect that I have lost any right to criticize her cinematic selections, for eternity.
I think that's a reasonable response on her part, actually.
I suggest a new, improved tagline: "There is a force in the universe that sucks harder than anything else known to man... It is The Black Hole!!! (the movie, that is!)"
Okay, first the good: In its time, it was found to be visually impressive. It definitely hasn't held up like 2001, Star Wars, or even the first Star Trek movie, though. I do remember being pretty overwhelmed as a tyke watching this, back in the day. The end is still vertigo-inducing, looking suspiciously like a ride at Disneyland. Did they plan to build a spin off (very literally, in this case) ride based on the anticipated success of this film? "I know! Let's have their seats all spin around inside the spaceship when they enter the hole!" Why the hell the seats in a spaceship would be designed to spin madly is never addressed...
Sorry, more good: Maximilian is a badass looking robot. I am suddenly seized with a desire for a good model of him, because he is the very archetype of droid evil. His immobility just adds to the menace.
The opening and closing credits score (not the lame "overture") is pretty creepy cool, too.
On to the bad: The rest of the film. Script, acting, direction, plot, dialogue... By any reasonable measure of a movie's worth, this is a total failure. There are so many ridiculous, embarrassing moments, that this is a great choice for those compulsive smartasses who enjoy mocking a movie nonstop, MST 3000 style.
Nothing in this movie makes any sense. The "science" of this fiction is beyond wrong, the design of the spaceships is absurd, (gigantic formal dining room with huge crystal chandelier wtf?) the characters have no motivation, and the ending... Ouch.
Most of the dialogue is risible, and all of it is delivered woodenly at best. "The gravity is at maximum!" Uhh, what?
The ugly: There are two disturbing eviscerations in this film, which somehow takes it from a silly space opera for children into more serious territory. They should have kept it light and g-rated, or made a film worthy of adults.
My disbelief failed to suspend in the face of such a ham-fisted production. Why would anybody design an enormous empty gallery through the middle of a spaceship? Oh, right, so a giant flaming meteor could roll through it later in the film, gotcha. Why is the meteor flaming and red hot? Because it's in proximity to a black hole, silly! And everybody knows that the most powerful force in the universe is... Gravity! Uh, no, actually; gravity is the weakest force known. Those of you at home can play "Spot the Glaring Errors"!
Worst of all is the ending. Oh, the awfulness! On the "other side" of a black hole (which is portrayed here as a whirlpool in a tub in a gravity well, oddly enough) is... A Judeo-Christian morality play! Surprise, surprise. But nominative determinism wins the day, with Maximilian Schell ending up in Maximilian's shell, in hell. Choose your child's name carefully, folks!
If you're a film effects historian, you should probably see this film, as it was a landmark and the last big Disney studio-system effects extravaganza. The results obtained may explain why they changed the system, actually...
If you want to prove your worth and brilliance by ridiculing a silly, terminally confused movie, you have found your victim. Beer, popcorn, irony!
If you are looking for a trip down nostalgia lane like I was, jump on board! Maybe without the wife, though.
But if you are looking for a film that is satisfying as a film, burn your main engines at full power to escape the lethal suck of... The Black Hole!
I attended the 70mm premiere of "The Black Hole" in Hollywood in 1979.
The pre-publicity for this film was huge. Buena Vista Studios pulled
out all stops and published full page ads. The house was packed. I
never saw so much disappointment in an audience. You could hear the
audible gasps in certain scenes along with muffled snickers, it was
that bad. Everyone was polite when the house lights came up, but you
could tell... it flopped in a big way.
This was also the year of "Star Trek - the motion picture" and "Alien." During that 70mm premiere at the Egyptian, the film jumped the track and the 70mm film burned up before our eyes. A woman actually screamed which sent a wave of very loud gasps through the crowd. Fortunately, a friend of mine had other friends in Westwood (showing it 70mm later that day). We ran over there and they managed to squeeze us in. Compared to the "Black Hole" whether that comparison is fair or not, "Alien" was then and still is a sci-fi masterpiece, and complete pushed the "Black Hole" off the page for the year. No one associated with sci-fi would even mention "Black Hole" at the cons.
"The Black Hole" tried so hard to be legit Sci-fi. But in the end, a great roster of seasoned actors had a poor script (TV writer Bob Barash's only feature film), poor direction (TV director Gary Nelson's only feature film) and all the wonderful special effects or sweeping score cannot save an inherently bad movie. Disney has yet to make another attempt at Sci-fi that has or will be considered successful.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Uhh, OK where to start? I remember when this movie came out but never
saw it until it was on TCM the other night.
I couldn't get over how incredibly cheesy this movie is. Watching it, I couldn't believe it was made in the 1970's. It's obvious the writers & producers must have sat & watched numerous 1950's & 60's sci-fi movies in order to get the idea for this one. The set & acting all reminded me of an old movie in which all the spacecraft have cavernous rooms with highly polished floors and robots who move with jerky movements.
How is it cheesy? Let me count the ways.
First, the two robots VINCENT & Bob. Robots afraid? And then shaking in fear? This worked in the comedy The Ice Pirates, but that was a comedy. Black Hole is supposedly a serious movie. When I first saw VINCENT I realized I was watching a cheesy movie. The robot's eyes could have been so much better than just painted on. The robot reminds me of Cartman from South Park. And don't even get me started on Bob, the robot with the Texas accent. Also, how can a human have a psychic bond with a robot? I could have bought it if they said she had some kind of electronic implant or something.
Incredibly advanced humanoid robots which move with stiff, jerky movements, can shoot balls of light with no problem but can't hit stationary people.
The characters being able to breathe in outer space. Near the end, when the ship is breaking apart, yes, they climb onto the outside of it. Earlier they experienced rapid decompression in the garden chamber, but later when a meteor takes out the rail car tube, they don't experience the same problem. They also have the ability to breathe in space at this point.
The "meteor shower." Meteors as glowing fiery round balls? In the real universe meteors are cold chunks of rock floating through space. The scene where the one meteor tears through the skin of the ship and then rolls down the long chamber may have been cool from a special effect point of view, but is simply laughable. Notice how the meteor is just the right size to fit in the chamber?
Near the end when they all go through the black hole appears to be a ripoff of 2001. The rocket even flies toward the same shining eclipsed star that you saw a few times in 2001.
The deranged scientist dies on the ship when the giant flat screen TV falls on him, yet near the end he's alive again to be merged with Maximillian the robot? And what's with the Hell-looking area he ends up in? Is this supposed to make him the devil or something? And yet the "good" people fly down an arched hallway.
This movie could have been so much better, yet wasn't made to be. There's just no comparison with that other 1979 sci-fi flick Alien. Black Hole shouldn't be seen by anyone over the age of 10, yet those under 10 are going to be bored with much of the movie and will not understand the ending. Actually, I don't think many people will understand the ending.
"Haunting" is exactly the term for it. I know others have knocked the
silly robots and laser guns.
But I have always felt The Black Hole's spooky emotional impact, through the visuals and music. Although the visuals are now dated, what they were aiming for strikes true. It's a vision of the future that strikes a chord in me: dark uncaring space, the black hole a crushing force more powerful than the sun, ego and insane genius, science and what's beyond science, the horror of the old crew's fate. The music with its heavy repeated theme is like the crushing presence of the black hole itself: relentless. A new God if ever there was one.
In my opinion it has more emotional impact than Solaris, which threw in too much "murder mystery" and sort of confused me. The Black Hole is simple: it is clearly beyond knowledge and all the spookier for it.
If you get a thrill from the idea of scientific discovery, give this underrated film a chance. You won't be disappointed.
There's a very good reason the attraction in Tomorrowland at Disney
World has always been called "Space Mountain" and not "The Black Hole"
even though the ride was obviously modeled after this movie.
Overall, sub par acting (especially for a veteran cast), thin plot with more suspension of disbelief than is necessary except for maybe kids under 10. And that's kids under 10 in 1979, I doubt in this day and age that many kids over the age of 8 would fail to question some of the holes.
Now, that being said, this IS a Disney movie and let's face it, the 70s aren't particularly noted for fantastic films. Take a look at some of the live-action crap Disney produced during that span (Watcher in the Woods, Unidentified Flying Oddball, The Cat From Outer Space, etc) and you can see where things were going. I've heard for years that Disney was in a very bad patch during this span (pre Eisner and the creation of dozens of new production companies to produce adult films without a "direct" link to the Disney label). They wanted to cash in on the new sci fi craze and biffed it. Just remember to thank God in your prayers every night for VCRs, cable TV and the Disney Channel - that's where the garbage that normally would have disappointed us every summer at your favorite theatre goes now.
And yeah, Anthony Perkins getting frappéd by the floating red Cuisinart gave me nightmares, too.
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