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Ahead of Its Time
mwendel21 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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Not for the little ones.
dsayne14 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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"The time has come to liquidate our guests."
Scott LeBrun13 November 2016
A team of space travelers locates a long lost, massive spacecraft, the U.S.S. Cygnus, perched in space near an imposing black hole. They meet its commander, the mad genius Dr. Hans Reinhardt (Maximilian Schell), who's created an army of obedient robot slaves and who fully intends to explore this black hole and see what might lay beyond it. It doesn't take our heroes too long to realize that they should get out while the getting is good.

"The Black Hole" came along at a very interesting time during the reign of Disney Studios, when they took some unusual chances with their projects and dipped their toes into genres like fantasy, sci-fi, and horror. Also of note during this time are "The Watcher in the Woods", "Tron", and "Something Wicked This Way Comes". The result is a very dark and highly operatic piece of work that offers great fun, although it will have more appeal to older kids and adults than the very young due to its themes, plot details, and suggestion of violence. (As a matter of fact, some pretty nasty violence is suggested at one point, not that we ever see any blood or gore.) It does play as reminiscent of earlier works - Disney's own production of "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea", "Forbidden Planet", "2001: A Space Odyssey", and "Star Wars".

Some of the visual effects may show their age now, 37 years later, but overall, the movie is quite agreeable as eye candy, and looks especially nice in its intended 2.35:1 aspect ratio. John Barry's music score is somewhat repetitive, but also utterly thunderous and ominous, perfectly suiting the material.

The human cast is steadfast and reliable, with Schell making the most of his madman role. It's hard to go too wrong with a group of actors including Anthony Perkins, Robert Forster, Joseph Bottoms, Ernest Borgnine, and the lovely Yvette Mimieux. As was the case with "Star Wars", the cute robot characters tend to steal the show, V.I.N.CENT (voiced by Roddy McDowall) and B.O.B. (voiced by Slim Pickens). The towering red robot thug Maximillian leaves quite the impression as well. Director Gary Nelson cameos as the drone whose mask is removed.

Great fun overall, which is made all the more memorable by its truly haunting ending.

Eight out of 10.
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Light at the end of the tunnel....
Mister-623 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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Screw the reviews. Remember it for Maximilian.
Mario Lanza23 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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A Forgotten Classic
Andrew-3114 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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Haunting and powerful to SF lovers: Completely underrated !
johnnymonsarrat28 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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spectacular failure
jaijaijai7330 September 2009
Warning: 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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Disney gets it right. For once.
MrKearns-23 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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An unfairly marginalised bit of sci-fi
Red-Barracuda10 June 2016
The Black Hole was one of many films that were released with the intention of cresting the sci-fi wave created by the huge success of Star Wars (1977). More specifically, this was Disney's attempt at the genre and I think it was the studio's first movie that didn't go for a U certificate. The film that it can best be compared to is Star Trek: The Motion Picture, which was also released the same year. Both movies sport fantastic special effects and production values, while both also are surprisingly - and pleasingly - slightly left-field in their approach. Neither really fall squarely into the action/adventure bracket that Star Wars so obviously did, they rely more on atmosphere, some psychological aspects and have some enigmatic qualities which seem to indicate the influence of the earlier hard sci-fi masterpiece 2001: A Space odyssey (1968). For these reasons, I find both these films to be decidedly under-appreciated and interesting. The Star Trek franchise of course went down a different, more comforting route, from the second feature The Wrath of Khan (1982) onwards, while The Black Hole remained a one off that has become more and more obscure as the years go by. So much so that it could reasonably be considered a cult movie on account of its selective appeal.

From the off, this is visually a very interesting film. It has great sets and model work, which make the giant space craft where the majority of the action takes place an evocative setting. The special effects throughout are in general very impressive and still look good today. But the visuals have been constructed for more than mere spectacle as they combine to create a pretty interesting atmosphere on the whole; they ultimately are used also to set up the strange and ambiguous ending which involves visions of Hell and an alternate universe. This kind of oddness stands out these days, as most big budget sci-fi endeavours mostly avoid such ambiguity, but this is definitely a plus point for The Black Hole. Another serious asset is the really effective main theme from John Barry. This is in all honesty one of his best bits of individual music, its sweeping yet mysterious and complements events on screen extremely well.

The story itself is pretty simple and boils down to a deep space crew discovering a mysterious spaceship near a black hole, they board it and events escalate. The story is perhaps oddly presented in some ways as there is material quite obviously aimed at kids, like the cartoonish robots (the main one, V.I.N.C.E.N.T., being voiced excellently by Roddy McDowell) but at the same time there are also some decidedly sinister aspects to this one too. So I guess it had a bit of a split focus in some ways, not that that is a terrible thing but it may have accounted for its marginalised position in the sci-fi cinematic pantheon. But whatever the case, I consider this to be one of the best that 70's science fiction has to offer. It's mysterious and left-of-centre nature mean that it is one of the more interesting entries in the genre to revisit.
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Taken in terms of the late 70's, this is a science fiction classic.
mattaki11 April 2015
Warning: 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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Disney's first PG film
preppy-310 February 2003
This was Disney's big Christmas release in 1979--a big budget, the first PG rating and big stars. It was a huge bomb which is too bad--it's pretty good.

A spaceship's crew (Anthony Perkins, Robert Forster, Joseph Bottoms, Yvette Mimieux) find a mad doctor (Maximilian Schell) in outer space ready to enter a black hole. He sets out to take them with him...or else.

Great special effects are the main attraction here. The debits are kiddie-like dialogue, bad acting, huge lapses in logic and two cutsey robots voiced by Roddy McDowell and Slim Pickens. Still, I liked the movie. It moves fairly quickly and there was always some impressive effects to look at--it's obvious that Disney spent a lot of money on this.

This is fine for kids--the PG rating is just for someone saying "damn" and three non-bloody, quick deaths. Adults should like it too.
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"Middle of the Road"? You're soaking in it.
Gislef13 April 1999
This movie does fall absolutely dead center in the middle of the road for me. On the one hand, you have decent F/X, great model work, some good performances (Maximilian Schell as the Nemo-like bad guy and Perkins as the obsessed acolyte), a willingness to get down and gritty (witness Perkins' on-screen death), and some nice concepts. On the other hand, you have some bad performances (Borgnine and wooden-faced Forster), unnecessarily anthromorphized robots (no doubt inspired by Star Wars and Disney's desire to lighten the flick a bit), some sloppy science, and a very slow plot. It's good, but to me it just balances right out at a 4-6 rating, depending on my mood when I catch it.
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The Ending Doesn't Define the Movie
blueboringers25 October 2015
With The Black Hole, I'd say you either love it or you hate it. And of course, many sci-fi fans despise this movie.

I'll say this - The Black Hole is extremely unique, and severely overlooked. It has an excellent score, beautiful backgrounds, and an intriguing story with a cheesy (but lovable) cast. It is dark at times, but exciting and action-packed as a science fiction movie should be.

The ambiguous ending is the only thing I do not like about this movie, given its abruptness and out-of-place feel. I'll say it again, though - the ending does not define the movie, and it remains a very entertaining, well-done, truly Disney classic.
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A true science fiction masterpiece
Plissken-424 February 1999
In a day when garbage like ID4 (Independence Day) and Fifth Element are considered good sci-fi, it's refreshing to see renewed interest in the overlooked classic The Black Hole. I have loved this movie ever since I first saw it in 1979. Is it a Star Wars ripoff? Of course. So what? It is still a classic in every sense of the word. Great performances and a script that is actually thought provoking. It has not only a morality tale, but some first class adventure. How many sci-fi films today have that? Finally, the visual effects are as stunning today as they were 20 years ago. The shot of the giant meteor rolling down the length of the Cygnus toward our heroes remains one of the greatest fx pieces of ALL time! I for one can't wait for the DVD of this movie to come out. With all the Star Wars hype going on these days, it's time for this classic to have its day in the sun too.
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Most beautiful science fiction film ever made.
geoff-16129 November 2004
I was pleased to read the comments of Andrew 31. I was a 28 year old adult and quite familiar with science fiction films and with science when I saw The Black Hole. I was awestruck. It is an incredible work of visual art. It is not so much a science fiction film as it is a magnificent piece of art and fantasy.

I never understood why The Black Hole was not a major success. When I left the theatre, I thought I had seen a true masterpiece of cinematic craft and beautiful visual presentation that set a new standard. Of course there were "errors". But, I thought that the creators of this film chose cinematic beauty and spectacle over more "believable" cinematography and plot. Remember, that we must suspend disbelief even for the most realistic of science fiction films. It's just that we are more used to suspending disbelief in some ways than others. And, we are not used to science fiction filmed for shear beauty.

It is nothing like any other science fiction film I have seen. I cannot recall another visually gorgeous science fiction film. Lots of spectacle, little beauty!

I found Dr. Reinhardt to be one of the most disturbing characters in science fiction and Maximillian, with the rotating can opener hands to be truly terrifying. The Black Hole hits some primal chords of violence, fear, life, death, coerced and tortured existence more typical of a horror film than science fiction.

I will readily admit that The Black Hole is an odd-bird that doesn't fit preconceived ideas of what science fiction should be.

But, ever since seeing this film, I have wanted to have dinner in Max Reinhardt's dining room with the Chippendale furniture, oriental carpets, and an entire wall and ceiling of glass open into outer space.

I generally prefer sci-fi that has an odd or new flair. So, I don't rank lots of good sci-fi in my favorites because it is simply the same old story done well.

Here are some of my favorite sci-fi films. You may look at this list and decide that I have no taste at all. Then, again you may understand why The Black Hole is at the top of my list! (I got carried away, sorry.) Bladerunner, Naked Lunch, Altered States, Star Wars (the first one), Dark City, The Matrix, Mars Attacks, Manchurian Candidate (Frank Sinatra), Starship Troopers, Fantastic Planet (European animation), Enemy Mine, The Day the Earth Stood Still, Brazil, 12 Monkeys, E. T., Fahrenheit 451, On the Beach, Back to the Future, The Dead Zone, Brainstorm, Strange Days, The Invisible Man (1933), Earth Girls are Easy, Alien, Andromeda Strain, Planet of the Apes (original), Barbarella, The Fly (1986), Gattaca, Superman (1978), Weird Science, Ghost Busters, Wolfe, I Come in Peace, The Time Machine (1960), Johnny Mnemonic, Zardoz, Last Starfighter, Slaughterhouse Five, Beetlejuice, Edward Scissorhands, Sphere, Stepford Wives (the original and the remake!), Virtuosity, Wargames, Cat People (1942), Village of the Damned (1960), and Wild in the Streets.
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Disney Movie Mania! The Black Hole.
Joseph P. Ulibas9 October 2004
The Black Hole (1979) was one of the first films that I can remember watching in a movie theater. A small cinema near to where I lived played Disney films and I saw this one there. A fun film about a group of astronauts and a robot who are welcomed aboard a gigantic spaceship manned by Maximillian Schnell. Sadly he's as mad as a hatter and has some unsettling plans for his guests. The leader of the space travelers is portrayed by one of my b-movie favorites Robert Forester. Creepy Anthony Perkins is also along for the ride as well as several other familiar faces. When I was a lad I was really into this genre. The robots were cool and the special effects were quite impressive.

Not a bad film except it confused me a bit when I was younger (especially the end). Entertaining for a Disney film and I wouldn't mind seeing it again in the near future. I have to give this one a passing grade. Not one of my truly favorites but a great time killer. If this one was on video for rent at my local rental store I wouldn't hesitate to watch it. But stay away from T.V. or Cable versions because this film was shot in Cinemascope.

Recommended for camp value.
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Like a scraggly mutant kitty!
roddmatsui31 August 2004
I have actually gone in here and altered and added to my original comments to make them a little less one-sided.

Did you ever have one of those mutant pets, like a cat with six toes on its front paws, or an extra ear? Well I didn't either, but you can imagine what it must be like. You'd love the thing all the more because of its flaws, because it'll never be perfect, and because it needs someone to love it. And such is my love for "The Black Hole" (1979). It is an interesting story that is rendered and explored in a mechanical manner--although visually, in terms of its set design and special effects, it is really stunning.

It's a Disney product, and like "Star Trek: The Motion Picture," it was put on the slates mainly to cash in on the space opera craze that "Star Wars" had ignited. Movies are commercial art, they exist to make money (hopefully entertaining us at the same time); and the Disney people got their best film-making talent together, assembled a dynamite cast, and cranked this out, in a very lavish and polished way, production-wise. The money is slathered all over the screen, and everything is handled in the tried-and-true Disney Studios fashion of preplanning and choreographing everything down to the tiniest of details (actors don't even PAUSE IN THE MIDDLE OF A LINE unless it was dictated, planned and rehearsed that way)...this was very near the end of Disney's run as a major producer of live-action features, and "The Black Hole" is a fitting finish. It even features cute touches, like the way the nastiest demise is saved for Anthony Perkins. If you're gonna make a slow, mechanical movie, you can at least do it with style, and they did. It is an impressive production.

In a certain way you might say I love/hate the movie. The methodical way it's constructed seems lifeless. But at the same time, it is a strange joy to see its methodical construction. It takes tremendous energy to create something so controlled. It's certainly not a film made by accident or unconsciously.

"The Black Hole," manages to be strangely trance-inducing. Once I put it on, it's hard to turn it off.
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The Black Hole: Haunting, visual stunning, misunderstood
moshomaniac16 May 2017
I was born in 1981, and saw the Black Hole on television as a child, and immediately fell in love with the robots, production design(especially on the Cygnus, one the of the coolest-looking ships ever), and the dazzling effects with the black hole. That being said, yes, the movie does have its flaws. It feels like a combination of the swash-buckling action of Star Wars with the cerebral qualities of Kubrick. The movie soundtrack is rather annoying, especially the main title theme. But does that make it bad? No, just misguided. The movie's plot is cliché: A mad scientist wants to pilot his ship into the black hole in search of immortality. Some of the dialogue is cringe-worthy, and the ending tries to out-weird 2001. But the movie is still an underrated film none-the-less. For 1979, the visuals are awe-inspiring, featuring more special-effect shots than Star Wars. The characters, while stock, are still likable. The opening sequence, featuring a wire-frame computer generated black hole yanking you towards the center of the whirlpool is fantastic, and the enemy robot, Maximillian, comes in second only to the Horned King as Disney's scariest and most intimidating villain. Yes, Disney made this movie. As far as Disney live action films go, this is easily one of the most watchable. The best part is that there isn't any singing tacked onto it like so many of their Disney films of the time. The Black Hole was an experiment, some would say failed, but I say that while it may not be as acclaimed as others, this film is vastly underrated and deserves a second look.
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A Great Movie ahead of its time
meren21 April 2017
Warning: Spoilers
The toy line from this film was great as well. The Special effects were great. also Roddy McDowell as the voice of Vincent for some reason some of the toys were only available in Canada or Italy Such as S.T.A.R. and the Crew of the Ship. The film also had some Religious aspects to it. The Idea of Heaven and Hell. I remember seeing this Film when I was a kid at the Drive in. I watched it time and time again when it would be on TV. It has a Cult following, and a Very Strong Cast. Anthony Perkins, Robert Forester, Maximillian Schell, The relationship between Dr. Reinhardt and the Robot Maximillian is a very interesting one. People always call for Remakes of Movies I see no reason to remake this film. It stands the test of Time. I am one who is tired of all the Remakes. I don't mind that George Lucas went back and added a few things in the original Star Wars films and Remastered them. You don't remake classic films. Some can be better then the original in some ways. But to me most of the remakes are busts. Some Movies have been remade 2 or 3 times over, even more in some cases. Death Wish is being remade, the Beguiled, when the originals were so good to begin with starring Charles Bronson and Clint Eastwood Respectively. This movie is highly under rated, if anything it deserves a Sequel. But its too late for that as key actors from the original have passed away. It was ahead of its time like so many other Sci Fi films from around that era before and after Star Wars a New Hope came out.
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Great science fiction and the best Disney movie by far
dworldeater27 December 2016
It has been awhile since I have seen sci fi classic (since childhood) The Black Hole and I think it is a great science fiction film. The Black Hole is an unusual film and is easily the darkest and weirdest movie released by Disney. The film is, I believe one of the last films to open with an overture and has a classy score and cast. The Black Hole gets compared to Star Wars a lot (which is apt in some ways, as they both shared the same special f/x team), but in my opinion the film has more in common with Star Trek but with a darker edge. The f/x, although state of the art at the time makes the film a bit dated in some ways, but the film itself is very strong and grounded with excellent acting, dialogue and storytelling. This project has a great cast which includes Robert Foster, Anthony Perkins,Ernest Borgnine and Maximilian Schell as our main villain. Plus we have robots,(what is a sci fi adventure film without robots) that are actually cool characters like VINCENT(voice-over by Roddy McDowell) and BOB(voice-over by Slim Pickens). Plus, lets not forget about menacing robot heavy Maximilian. This was made with kids in mind, but is much more geared towards adults and as an adult, I can truthfully say The Black Hole is a great film that I enjoy immensely. Excellent old school sci fi!
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paul5130 March 2005
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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Major Disney flop, not worthy of Walt's name
cinemabon10 February 2010
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.
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worst sci-fi flick I've ever seen
nuhc28 October 2007
Warning: 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.
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