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on 31 December 2015
One can only wonder what Disney Execs thought when the first cut of this was delivered to them back in 1979. I'm only assuming this movie exists because every other movie had to be a sci-fi one in the wake of 'Star Wars' - but if they wanted a light, laser filled romp in order to sell bucket loads of toys, then they had surely backed the wrong horse...

In deep space, the USS Palomino is on its way back to Earth when it accidentally discovers the USS Cygnus, presumed missing for over 20 years. The ship is found lifeless, hanging dormant in space precariously hanging over a black hole so the crew decide to investigate and see if anyone is still alive (one being the father of one of Palomino's team). Led by Holland (a respectably stoic Robert Forster), telepath Kate (Yvette Mimieux), Pizer (a cocksure Joseph Bottoms), Booth (a roguish Ernest Borgnine), Durant (a suitably dour Anthony Perkins) and a know it all robot called V.I.N.C.E.N.T. (voiced by an uncredited Roddy McDowell), they board the Cygnus only to be greeted by megalomanic Dr. Reindhardt (a scenery chewing Maximilian Schell), his armoured robot body guard Maximilian and a bizarre, faceless army who plan to be the first people ever to enter a black hole. Only the crew of the Palomino aren't too hot on the idea of joining him and thus sets forth a hurried battle of brain, brawn and laser guns...

I hadn't seen this movie since I was a child and I dearly loved it back then but approached it with trepidation now. Sure, it has clunky dialogue and the cast are away too serious giving the film a po-faced vibe which jars quite heavily against the cutesy robot shenanigans of V.I.N.C.E.N.T. and his newly found cohort B.O.B. (again, uncredited voiceover work by Slim Pickings), but it really does have something to it. The production design by Peter Ellenshaw is still pretty stunning (the cathedral like USS Cygnus is a standout) and John Barry's score is one of his best, even if it is used incorrectly in certain sequences throughout the film. Gary Nelson's direction is swift, never letting the uneven script get in the way of a majestic image or a cool laser battle shootout, for which there are many littered throughout. It does have problems though: Characters do things... well, out of character in an effort to propel the story along and everything ends all too quickly. The build up to the finale seems to begin about 20 minutes in and the final hour is pretty much the end of the picture playing itself out... however, once you get to the finale and the crew (sorry, spoilers) do enter that black hole - its unsure of which vibe Disney were going for as it doesn't feel like a children's movie at all. Tipped somewhere between a cold 'Star Trek The Motion Picture' and a satanic horror movie, the final moments literally do send them to hell. And in an ambiguous manner, never really lets the audience come away feeling good, either. This ain't a movie Uncle Walt would have made, for sure.

Its a shame as of this writing, the movie still isn't available on Blu-Ray but Disney's UK DVD does sport a good transfer with vibrant audio (however, please note there is much film grain which may spoil the enjoyment for some, although I don't have an issue). No extras to speak of making this a bare bones, movie only affair (apparently a deleted Region 1 DVD offers a 16 minute retrospective documentary) - but for the price Amazon are asking for it, one can hardly grumble. All in all, I heartily recommend this bonkers descent into darkness, but modern audiences may feel shortchanged by the hokey script and pompous demeanour.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 25 September 2014
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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on 24 July 2017
Much better than I remembered it. The photography, sets, score and effects are beautiful and the overall concept good. It's a very surprising movie in places for Disney to have produced with family audiences in the 70's in mind.
The dialogue is dubious in places ("habitable life"...), the pacing might be a little odd, the cutesy robots are ridiculous (although 'wild west' motifs were still everywhere in kids' films back then) and at times the brilliant score is abused (main theme suddenly dropped out of nowhere as 'hero music' in an action sequence for example). It's probably one of the last actual SciFi movies of the era though, anyone imagining it was a 'Star Wars' me-too is quite a way off and missing the distinction between SciFi and 'Fantasy'.

It's a shame the mooted remake probably isn't happening as there's a great movie in here waiting to be remade.
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on 9 July 2013
What was Disney's reaction to the Star Wars phenomenon in 1977? The answer: make the Black Hole. The outcome? Not a phenomenon. Sadly. However, the film is actually pretty good, even though it never really set the box office on fire at the time.

It tells of a story of a space ship's crew who discover a giant ship, holding orbit just out of reach of a menacing black hole. When they investigate this `ghost ship' they find it's populated by sinister robots and a mad scientist.

Perhaps one reason it never found its audience was because it is both `ultra cute' and `pretty dark' all at the same time. The good robots are designed to appeal to children (despite never being as annoying as you think they might be), but the overall tone of the piece is pretty foreboding and bleak. I won't give too much away, but it's not a happy-go-lucky affair, plus it has an ending which the younger audiences might not get (I didn't, until I grew up and confirmed it on the internet!).

Also, whereas Star Wars was timeless (showing few signs of being made in the seventies), The Black Hole looks a little like `old science fiction' with the uniforms and robots. Then you have the budget... I couldn't work out whether it had a big budget or a shoestring one. The set for the derelict spaceship is truly awesome, showing vast expanses and giving off a greater sense of space than either the Nostromo (Alien) or even the Death Star (Star Wars). Plus there are a few scenes near the end (i.e. the crashing meteorite) which are truly breathtaking. Maybe they spent all their money on the sets and didn't have enough money left over for stunt men? The bad robots are similar to Star Wars Stormtroopers, yet they are blatantly models - when they're knocked over, you can see there's no one in them and they just topple over stiff as a board. This kind of shows the film up as a lesser budget and is one example of a few which highlight a lack of budget.

I'm not sure how many new fans The Black Hole will pick up nowadays. It's a product of its time. I think young boys (under 10?) will still like the robots and sense of good vs evil, plus people who grew up with it (such as myself) will always regard it fondly. Or, maybe it you're just looking for some nostalgic sci-fi, then this will certainly tick all boxes.
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on 27 August 2017
Clearly rooted in the 70's post Star Wars era, it suffers from some poor special effects, corny dialogue, and a story that doesn't entirely make sense. On the other hand it has a great score, a great cast, and two unforgettable robots.
Technically the picture quality is good, would have preferred a Blu-ray version but picture is ok even on a largish screen, and the sound is excellent.
If you grew up in the 70's, and love sci-fi, just sit back and enjoy the ride.
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on 8 November 2015
The characters are a bit bland, with scant depth. The special effects are good for their 1979 time, even though the laws of physics take a back seat! All of the robots look excellent, especially VinCenT, who has an organic brain capable of telepathic communication with Yvette Mimieux's character. I found the film's climax to be a tad simplistic and not as far reaching as the journey through the black hole promised.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 4 September 2017
Arrived on due date. The Black Hole [DVD] (1979).
Excellent Value for money. Super quality of DVD. I love this film.
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on 19 July 2017
Classic
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on 29 June 2016
A space ship looking for other life comes. Across the. USS cignus believed lost the board her to find the ship run by robots and the captain. The captain wants to navigate thru the hole but things aren't. What they seem.....

Great film by Disney
Out standing soundtrack john Barry
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on 26 July 2015
This is Disney jumping on the Star Wars bandwagon and taking a very different approach.

A very solid cast, and one of movies most terrifying robots in Maxamillian.

The visual effects and set design still hold up today and look great in HD.
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