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The Black Hole More at IMDbPro »

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113 out of 159 people found the following review useful:

Ahead of Its Time

Author: mwendel ( from Kings Park, NY
21 May 2005

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.

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86 out of 143 people found the following review useful:

Light at the end of the tunnel....

Author: Mister-6 from United States
23 August 1999

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 time).

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.

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102 out of 178 people found the following review useful:

Screw the reviews. Remember it for Maximilian.

Author: Mario Lanza ( from Upland, CA
23 January 2005

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

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47 out of 76 people found the following review useful:

Here Comes The Pain Baby!!

Author: Archangel Michael from United States
5 July 2015

Spoilers Ahead:

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.

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74 out of 133 people found the following review useful:

A Forgotten Classic

Author: Andrew-31 from Boston, MA
14 August 1998

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.

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29 out of 46 people found the following review useful:

spectacular failure

Author: jaijaijai73 from United States
30 September 2009

*** 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!)"

(spoilers follow)

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!

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40 out of 74 people found the following review useful:

Haunting and powerful to SF lovers: Completely underrated !

Author: johnnymonsarrat from United States
28 October 2008

"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.

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Not for the little ones.

Author: dsayne from Kentucky, USA
14 August 2002

I first saw the Black Hole when I was in college and I remembered just enough to know that I liked it. Others here have commented on the movie in great enough detail, I can only say,"Lighten Up!" Sure the effects are not perfect but they really are pretty good. The acting is acceptable, not oscar level but then neither is the script that they were given to work with. Many of the events depicted are not plausible, but how many movies really are? (Even non SF ones) The Black Hole is in some ways Captain Nemo in space. The Elizabethan structure of the ship in particular. Also Reinhart and Nemo are similar characters. However, Nemo is not truly a villain. His crew is composed of volunteers and they are very loyal to him whereas Reinhart must lobotomize his crew to retain their services. Reinhart cares for no one but himself, but Nemo was concerned, though grudgingly, for the welfare of even his prisoners. In short, Nemo is a sympathetic character, Reinhart is not. This brings me to the point of my review. The mood of this movie is what really makes or breaks it. I must credit my sister for defining it for me because I could not find the right word. The word is CREEPY! There is a feeling of forboding that builds untill the action sequences are finished and our heroes enter the black hole. After that it is just intensely weird and CREEPY. Having not seen this movie for twenty years and remembering only the cool effects and robots I allowed my 5 year old to watch it. Big mistake! He was afraid to go to sleep, and it bothered him for about a week. This kid has handled action and SF movies OK before, although I do not let him watch the more violent or intense stuff. This movie is intense! Star wars did not bother him at all, but the Black Hole . . . Parents of small children beware! The Black Hole is CREEPY!

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43 out of 83 people found the following review useful:

Disney gets it right. For once.

Author: MrKearns-2
3 September 1999

The Black Hole is probably the only Disney live-action movie (with the possible exception of Cool Runnings) that is even watchable. So the fact that it's incredibly fun just makes it all the more odd.

Perhaps it's the overabundance of mediocre effects (even by 1979's standards, considering it was preceded by Star Wars (2 years) and 2001: A Space Odyssey (11 years)), or it could be the overall impossibility of the robot VINCENT, but I am hooked on this movie.

Plotwise, there's some new stuff here for science fiction. In general, the black hole had never really been looked into, so combining that with the crazed genius (Maximillian Schell) just creates a story worth watching, despite some obvious speaking errors ("habitable life in outer space") and some scientific errors (the astronauts are exposed to the vacuum of space and nothing happens...).

All in all, the fighting, the story, and the utterly bizarre 1970s sets and costumes make this one of my closet favorites. If you are even vaguely interested, buy the video today, because it took 20 years to see it come out to the mainstream. Don't miss this!

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Taken in terms of the late 70's, this is a science fiction classic.

Author: mattaki from United States
11 April 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Having seen this movie in the theater when I was 8, I and everyone in my school was spellbound by it. Many parts of it haven't held up well 30 years later: the acting is similar to any 70's made for TV show. It was made at a time when every show had a wisecracking character (think SNL) and had a symphonic theme (just listen to any TV theme show from the time). While the movie gets often nailed for the stoically wooden acting, 90% of the characters are scientists, robots or following the contemporary stereotype of astronauts as strong and taciturn. The plot is essentially 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea set in space.

Culturally, the movie felt topical at the time. It was a perfect amalgamation of popular culture in the late 1970's: science fiction (Star Wars, et al.), video games (Space Invaders), space exploration (the Voyager probes), laser guns and robots (everything from Battlestar Galactica to Buck Rogers), as well as ESP, parapsychology and heaven vs. hell (c.f. see the number of books on psychic phenomena and mysteries from the late 70's as well as the popularity of things like Heaven Can Wait and the George Burns' "Oh God!" movies).

Disney took a huge gamble on a movie that was so overtly dark, both in tone and set lighting. The movie was not a runaway financial success but was not a loss either, a major achievement considering its extremely high price tag. Even if its ethos and pacing don't fit well with today's audiences, its design sense holds up today. The sets create a feeling of both scale, claustrophobia, and tension. The robot V.I.N.CENT actually steals the show, both in his insight and action. His action figure was more popular on the playground than any of the Star Wars figures, yet most of his constant clever yet arrogant wisdom comes from literary quotes far beyond any child's entertainment - from Shakespeare to Cicero to the Bible. Like the best Disney movies, this one was made to be simultaneously enjoyed on different levels by both the kids and adults in the audience.

All in all, taken in terms of its time, it's a remarkable achievement in special effects and seeing Disney push its limits. The pacing, acting, musical themes, juxtaposition of long exposition with laser fights, scientific theories and portrayal of robots as rigid goose-steppers all seem dated today. The rest is a good allegory of balancing scientific genius with ethics. The practical effects still hold up. V.I.N.CENT is more human than any CGI creation and - with his constant humanities references, arrogance, and compassion for his crewmates - the most human component of the film.

For anyone expecting a Disney movie circa the late 80's and afterwards, you may not be entertained. For classic science fiction fans as well as those who have nostalgia for or are interested in American culture in the late 70's, don't miss this.


The ending is very 2001-esque and gets attacked for its obscurity, but the symbolism was clear to anyone who went to Sunday School (which at the time was nearly everyone): the bad guys went to hell and the good guys went to heaven. What's behind a black hole? According to the movie, the world all souls go to when they die.

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