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.