Customer Review

35 of 37 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
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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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 1 Jan 2010 00:51:33 GMT
J. mason says:
flash gordan goes 20 00 leagues under space with a james bond soundtrack is spot on. Never trust disney.

Posted on 3 May 2012 11:40:12 BDT
this was a very complicated book with a serious message at the end.....sometimes people or dictators (rhinehardt) can drag you into the hell they create....i never got the end of this film until the penny dropped of late....thats jesus at the end giving you a route out....( i've read the book and a peaceful voice says at the end COME TO ME )...sometimes books are better than the film and vice versa...but this is a classic film....with some serious score music. good old john barry...lesson for today...go watch the black hole again ( from a spiritual perspective) and then go and watch TRON LEGACY. must have sound tracks . black hole, raise the titanic, and tron legacy
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Review Details

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4.2 out of 5 stars (78 customer reviews)
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Reviewer

Trevor Willsmer
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)   

Location: London, England

Top Reviewer Ranking: 44