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76 of 85 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A forgotten, Gothic Sci Fi epic from the 1970s
OK let's get the bad things about the Black Hole out of the way first of all. Some of the dialogue is unbelievably naff. It has an overtly judgemental morality which runs throughout the film from start to finish. Very occasionally the SFX slip, and you see wires holding up robots etc. Some of the scenes are cloying, particularly involving the antics of the overly cute,...
Published on 4 Dec. 2005 by D. I. Shipley

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34 of 36 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars "It is time de vorld forgot about ids failures und learned about my successes!"
In the late 70s and early 80s, Disney's rather unhelpful corporate motto changed from `What would Walt do?' to 'Star Wars should have been a Disney film.' Unfortunately, rather than embracing pictures that went against the tide, they interpreted it as jumping on the sci-fi bandwagon and spending a then-huge $17m on The Black Hole. The script famously went through years of...
Published on 15 Oct. 2009 by Trevor Willsmer


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34 of 36 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars "It is time de vorld forgot about ids failures und learned about my successes!", 15 Oct. 2009
By 
Trevor Willsmer (London, England) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Black Hole [DVD] (1979) (DVD)
In the late 70s and early 80s, Disney's rather unhelpful corporate motto changed from `What would Walt do?' to 'Star Wars should have been a Disney film.' Unfortunately, rather than embracing pictures that went against the tide, they interpreted it as jumping on the sci-fi bandwagon and spending a then-huge $17m on The Black Hole. The script famously went through years of rewrites (there was no black hole at all in the original drafts) and it's tempting to guess that most of the interesting ideas it may have started with fell by the wayside in the process. Disney's biggest problem was their own hype, pitching their first PG-rated film as a groundbreaking 2001-style adult epic rather than the Flash Gordon Goes 20,000 Leagues Under Space serial style shoot `em up aimed at kids that it really is. Much was made of the finale, so secret that multiple versions were reputedly shot and none of the cast allowed to see the script's last pages, only for the black hole ultimately revealed to be little more than a live-action version of Fantasia's vision of Night on Bald Mountain before throwing our cardboard heroes out the other side in a rushed and underwhelming anticlimax.

The human element isn't exactly well developed, with Robert Forster, Yvette Mimieux, Ernest Borgnine and Joseph Bottoms playing stock cardboard characters while Maximilian Schell hams it up as the mad scientist and Anthony Perkins goes through his large stockpile of mannerisms and ticks as his star-struck wannabe apprentice in a competition to see who can chew up the most scenery (Max wins by a mile thanks to great egomaniacal dialogue like "It is time de vorld forgot about ids failures und learned about my successes!"). A couple of mildly irritating anthropomorphic robots voiced by the unbilled Roddy McDowall and Slim Pickens are thrown in because, y'know, Star Wars had robot sidekicks so they should keep the kids happy.

John Barry's score veers between effective and lazily repetitive, but on the plus side the film does at least throw in plenty of spectacularly silly action en route and Gary Nelson's direction is more than adequate, even pulling off one striking visual coup as a deserted spaceship suddenly springs to light. But the real star and auteur of the film is designer Peter Ellenshaw who gives the film such a magnificent look that you don't mind the absurdities too much (good job too, since this is the kind of film where no-one has difficulty breathing in a vacuum and where fiery meteors roll through the spaceships like a boulder chasing Indiana Jones). The giant spaceship Cygnus is a veritable Crystal Palace of girders, glass and lights while the black hole itself a marvellously unrealistic whirlpool of stars in the far distance. A travesty of science and engineering it may be, but when it looks this good it's a price worth paying. (It's also curious to note that, with its lost revolutionary spacecraft and its mad commander, it's easy to see the plot's unlikely influence on Event Horizon and the I'll-plagiarize-anything Sunshine.) Best watched with the brain on standby mode, but not without its incidental pleasures.

Once again Amazon have lumped together the reviews of three different DVD editions. The UK versions has a decent widescreen transfer but no extras; the long-deleted Anchor Bay release has a good widescreen transfer but is marred by a stereo track that favors only one channel but does include both widescreen and fullscreen versions; while the Disney Region 1 NTSC DVD corrects the soundtrack problem and includes a 16 minute retrospective featurette on the film as well as the trailer.
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76 of 85 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A forgotten, Gothic Sci Fi epic from the 1970s, 4 Dec. 2005
By 
D. I. Shipley "David Shipley" (KENT United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Black Hole [DVD] (1979) (DVD)
OK let's get the bad things about the Black Hole out of the way first of all. Some of the dialogue is unbelievably naff. It has an overtly judgemental morality which runs throughout the film from start to finish. Very occasionally the SFX slip, and you see wires holding up robots etc. Some of the scenes are cloying, particularly involving the antics of the overly cute, heroic robots... Also the makers would have done better to remember what effect the vacuum of Space would have on people NOT wearing spacesuits...
Put all that aside though and you are left with a minor sci fi masterpiece. Atmospherically the film is an outright winner - it is just so Gothic, from its sets, robots, and cowled and hooded undead crew. It also boasts one of the very best musical scores by John Barry. Visually it is stunning, Space has seldom looked this good. The blue/black background of space with its dense clusters of stars looks as good as it did on the day that it was released. Unlike Star Wars and its visibly dated mattes, this film has more than withstood the test of time.
The film's visual pinnacle though is the giant space ship Cygnus.
A cross between Brighton Pier and The Eiffel Tower, this Gothic behemoth is like no other. The scene where its lights are switched on suddenly and unexpectedly, is one of awe and beauty.
The exploration of the ship, culminating in the arrival in the control tower is stunning. Ditto the firing up of the ship's Frankenstein Lab like reactors and huge engines for its final journey to the Black Hole. Even in its death throes, this huge vessel retains a sad dignity.
Acting honours go to Maximilian Schell as an intergalactic Captain Nemo. Ernest Borgnine, Anthony Perkins, Yvette Mimeux, and Robert Forster all provide very able support though.
The blood red robot Maximilian (I wonder how that name was arrived at...) is an inspired creation, and has a temperament to match its colour scheme...

The dvd is great, picture and sound are both superb. Playing the film in 5.1 Dolby Digital on your home cinema is something else, especially when your memory of the film in the cinema is in mono. All sound channels are free of distortion and nicely separated. Both Surround channels in particular are superb.
Get this dvd if you can (the Collector's Edition on Region 1 is superb)) and add one of sci fi's most underrated films to your collection.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Botty Bots Steal The Show., 28 May 2014
By 
Spike Owen "John Rouse Merriott Chard" (Birmingham, England.) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Black Hole [DVD] (1979) (DVD)
Disney's trip into outer space may not carry much substance on the page, but it's an ambitious venture that's not without entertainment merits. Plot finds a spaceship crew going forth into a Black Hole and encountering a despot who was long since thought off as dead. The money spent is there on the screen to enjoy in 1979 terms, with the special effects and set designs really making time spent with the movie a solid experience. Unfortunately the writing is lazy, coming off as a collage of sci-fi classics that had previously enthralled the various generations of genre lovers. The cast assembled are reliable sorts - Anthony Perkins, Ernest Borgnine, Yvette Mimieux, Maximilian Schell, Robert Forster - but they are usurped by the fun robots who, whilst once again showing the film to be a lazy rip-off, are good company to be in and offset the confusing attempt by the makers to create a thought provoking family movie! 6/10
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2.0 out of 5 stars Two years after the battle of Yavin some people working for Disney decided to concurrence STAR WARS - and made this... thing..., 25 Sept. 2014
By 
Darth Maciek "Darth Maciek" (Darth Maciek is out there...) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
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This review is from: The Black Hole [DVD] (1979) (DVD)
Watching this 1979 SF film was an ordeal and it took me two evenings and some fast forwarding to do it. Below, more of my impressions, with some limited SPOILERS.

On its way back to Earth spacecraft USS "Palomino" discovers a black hole in space with a spaceship nearby, somehow defying the hole's massive gravitational pull. The ship is identified as the long-lost USS "Cygnus". The crew of "Palomino" decides to investigate, but when approaching, their own ship is damaged and barely manages to dock to "Cygnus". Once on board, they discover the only survivor of the crew. He is USS "Cygnus" commander, Dr. Hans Reinhardt, a genius - and a mad scientist if ever there was one... And then the film really begins.

I usually like SF movies, even those which objectively speaking are not so good. I have a quite large tolerance to silly scenarios, wooden acting, poor special effects, unwillingly amusing dialogs and clichés by bushels - so, even if this film offers all those attractions in abundance, this is not the reason why I disliked it so much. THE reason is that this thing was impossibly BORING to begin with and then with time aged like you wouldn't believe it! There is hardly even one interesting scene.

The film was supposed to be well budgeted, but no major stars appear in it. Maximilian Schell was well cast as Dr. Reinhardt, because of course the main villain MUST have a German accent to match his scientific title...))) On another hand both Anthony Perkins and Yvette Mimieux were at that time mostly burned out actors (she retired soon after and he already for some time played only in second rate turkeys) and as for Robert Forster and Joseph Bottoms, well, their careers never really took off. On another hand it is always a pleasure to watch the veteran Ernest Borgnine, one of Hollywood's "workoholics extraordinaires" - but his role is secondary.

The final scenes, which were supposed to be something dramatic and profound, were for me just a completely ridiculous and impossible to understand mess - a really sorry cherry on an impossible to swallow cake...

After seeing it by myself I tried to watch this film with my then 11 years old daughter and the conclusion was clear - even if "Black hole" is too silly and childish for adults and teenagers, it is also too dark, grim and scary (there is a rather unpleasant killing robot in it) for children.

For the life of me I cannot understand how anybody could produce such a film after "Alien", "Close encounters of the third kind" and especially "Star Wars" - it was hopelessly outdated from the moment it was made! Now some outdated films can still be enjoyed even today - me for one I actually like this pre-historic "When the worlds collide" 1951 thing - but not when they are THAT BAD.

I understand that some childhood nostalgia can cause indulgence to this film (I myself rated "Neptune adventure" three stars for the same reason) but not having seen it when I was a kid, I am immune to this temptation.

Two stars only for some nice lines said by a funny robot named V.I.N.CENT. Otherwise this film is a waste of time. Avoid it as if it was a deadly space singularity!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars FANTASTIC, THE WAY SCI - FI SHOULD BE DONE, 14 Jan. 2010
By 
R. Baird (South west Scotland) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Black Hole [DVD] (1979) (DVD)
WE WATCHED THIS OVER THE XMAS PERIOD, MY FAMILY LOVED IT, IT IS AS GOOD NOW AS WHEN I WATCHED IT WHEN I WAS A KID. NO COMPUTER CGI GRAPHICS, ALL FILMED ON SET, GREAT FUN , NOT TO BE TAKEN SERIOUSLY. BUT A REALLY GOOD FAMILY SCI FI, WITH NO SEX AND JUST COMIC BOOK VIOLENCE AND EDGE OF SEAT ADVENTURE, GREAT STUFF, AND CONSIDERING ITS AGE IT IS STILL VERY ORIGINAL.
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17 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lovable, action-packed and a must-see, 11 Feb. 2004
This review is from: The Black Hole [DVD] (1979) (DVD)
Any bigtime producer who didn't see the value of space in the late 1970's was denying reality at their own serious expense. After the phenomenal rise of 'Star Wars', it was just a matter of time for the fire to spread to other studios and media. James Bond was suddenly being propelled into space, whilst long-forgotten heroes Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon were being resurrected to appear in their own feature films. Universal threw itself headlong into the gold rush with the brilliant 'Battlestar Galactica' series (and movie) while the Star Trek camp was able to find a foothold in the new solid ground of hit movie sci-fi. And let's not forget all those derivative movies of the 1980's that would owe so much to the great strides made in that mercurial 1977-79 timeframe.
Disney, for so very long more than a studio but an institution too, was playing out what must have been a well-computed gamble by releasing this. For such a family oriented name to turnabout and give violence in space a go was a big step. Laser battles, a scientist getting propelled to his electric sparking death and a plot as deadly serious and contemplative as mortality itself - this was a serious venture that happened for all the right reasons.
Luckily, Disney traditionalists were not to be alienated. The painfully cute robots 'Vincent' and 'Old Bob' lay an assuring safety line through the picture while first rate performances from the perfectly casted cast keep impact levels high. Though not a downer, this picutre presents a wonderfully dark conclusion. Good triumphs but in a way that isn't anywhere near as wholesome and obvious as that usually seen in movies of the era. While owing something of a debt to '2001: A Space Odyssey', the final minutes of 'The Black Hole' turn out to be far better than they would have been if the sterotypically formulaic goodies' victory sequence had been allowed to happen.
I loved this film when I saw it in 1979. I have it on DVD and cannot stress enough its rewatch value. Get it for your kids and get it for yourself. You'll feel good about yourself and isn't that what a great family movie is supposed to do?
Disney proved they could be brave and send actors into space armed with lasers who weren't afraid to open fire when they had to.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Black Hole, 17 Sept. 2009
By 
MarkusG "Markus" (Stockholm, Sweden) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Black Hole [DVD] (1979) (DVD)
The Black Hole is a classic SF made with a big budget. And it shows: the designs of the space ships (especially the 'Cygnus' which looks like a mix of a star destroyer and the Eiffell tower) and interiors are original and interesting: metal rods, pipes, humanoids in medieval monk-outfit, a mix of steampunk and star trek. Of course a lot of the special effects seems outdated today, but for me the lack of CGI feels like a relief. The story takes place aboard the Cygnus, a space ship that can defy the gravity of a black hole in order to explore it, and its scientist and commander Rhinehart who reminds of Captain Nemo. And it has an ending with a psychedelic touch, maybe inspired by 2001.

The DVD has a good transfer, maybe not super-sharp picture but I watched it on a projector without problems.

The Black Hole was released 1979, something the DVD-cover for some reason neglects to mention.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A CHARMING SCI-FI THRILLER, 29 Oct. 2007
I watched this film when it was released on the cinema as a kid and fell in love with it, as well as its sinister and beautiful soundtrack. The sets are spectacular and the wires can be forgiven for 1979 - remember, computer effects were still in their infancy and extremely expensive so the models were smashing. In fact, watching it again, it is still an incredibly beautiful visual effects film. The robot, Maximillian, was creepy and, as a kid, I remember being rather horrified to watch him kill Anthony Perkins in such a brutal manner - but this did not put me off at all ... it was just so bold of Disney and I loved them for it because the story involved madness. I have given it 5 stars because it has stood the test of time and should never ever be re-made because it just would not be the same. A glorious and haunting movie.
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15 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant film, not so fab DVD, 28 April 2004
This review is from: The Black Hole [DVD] (1979) (DVD)
Ever since this came out in 1979, when I saw it at the cinema 3 times age11 (which was alot when we only went to the cinema once a year!), I haveloved this film. So no complaints there...but I do have complaints withthe awful film transfer. You'd think they could clean the original copy,its so full of dust it is unbelievable! It is still better than the tvversions, so worth buying, but it isn't brilliant either. And I agreewith the other reviewer - about time we had a collector's edition...thecomplete lack of any extras was a real downer. Here's hoping eventuallywe will get a DVD edition worthy of the film.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Edge Of Hell, 11 Nov. 2009
By 
Mr. Jonathon T. Beckett "vampire lover" (Dracula's Crypt) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Black Hole [DVD] (1979) (DVD)
A spaceship, the Palomino, on a mission to discover new lifeforms, instead come across a Black Hole. They also see a large spaceship on the edge of the Black Hole, that they soon discover is the USS Cygnus, missing in space for twenty years, after ignoring orders to return home. One of the Palomino's crew Dr Kate Macrae(Yvette Mimieux) reveals that her father Frank was an officer aboard the Cygnus when it dissapeared. Whilst examining the ship, the Palomino gets into difficulties, nearly being sucked into the Black Hole. They are forced to land on the seemingly deserted ship, only for the ship to suddenly light up like a Christmas tree, and the crew members find themselves guests to Dr Hans Reinhardt(Maximilian Schell) commander of the Cygnus,and the only surviving human on board, as Reinhardt is assisted by an army of robots, led by the powerful robotic giant Maximilian. They are welcomed by Reinhardt, but is all as it seems?
I saw this on the big screen when it was originally released, and even had 'The Black Hole' stickerbook, and a Maximilian figurine. So, you could say I bought into the film. So, how does it hold up thirty years on. Well, I think for the most part, very well. One small criticism that could be levelled at the film, is that the special effects, impressive though they are, sometimes takes precedence over the characters and the plot. Also, even though I like both VINCENT and BOB, the two robots, they seem to have a bit to much dialogue and screen time, at the expense of the humans on show.
However, its a great spectacle, with several quite stunning set pieces, most notably when the meteor hits the ship, and careers into Reinhardt's own little Garden Of Eden, causes everything to shrivel and die, and of course the fantastic dialogue-free end sequence, heavy with religious symbolism. There is also a fascinating relationship between Renhardt and Maximilian, who is really in charge for example, and when Reinhardt whispers to Kate "Protect me from Maximilian", you wonder if those words are the ramblings of a madman, or something far more sinister. Of the actors, Schell comes off best as the crazed genius Reinhardt, with Mimieux also impressive as psychic Dr Kate. Both Robert Forster and Anthony Perkins seem a bit disinterested but are adequate in their roles, but an uncredited Roddy Mcdowall and Slim Pickens breath real life into the two robots. Of course last but not least, special mention must go to Maximilian, still as visually impressive and as menacing as it was all those years ago
I think its an excellent little film, that was released during all the excitement surrounding the original Star Wars franchise, and maybe it gets a bit forgotten sometimes because of that. Shame if that is the case, as its an excellent film in its own right, and shouldnt be compared to the Lucas epics. 4 out of 5
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