Watched this yesterday for the first time in years. At the time it was Disney's most expense film; aimed at an older audience it was Tron Legacy of its day. As a child it was a particular favourite having all the prerequisite qualities the seven year old me loved i.e. robots and space.
I seem to recall even to those young eyes The Black Hole was an impressive affair and now at 34 its visual impact is no less. Before I even talk about the films many problems lets get one this straight; The Black Hole is a stunner to watch. Director Gary Nelson might not be the most stylistic of directors nor was he particularly prolific yet he clearly understood that The Black Hole needed to amaze its viewers which it most certainly does. In the pre CGI age the lion share of the effects are models and good old fashioned camera trickery. Combined with some truly impressive sets The Black Hole was supposed to be and is a worthy effects companion to Star Wars yet unlike the Lucas' space opus it lack one key and indeed vital component.
The Black Hole is sadly a hard film to love on the basis its impossible to actually warm to any of its characters. It has a fine cast for sure including Robert Forster, Anthony Perkins, Maximilian Schell, Ernest Borgine and Roddy McDowall as the voice of the cute robot VINCENT. Yet these characters feel more like the people you meet at parties who desperately try to convince you they're interesting as opposed to ones whose lives you have a vested interested in. Like so many films in the immediate Star Wars years The Black Hole is far too conceptual to truly captivate, it is in in effect a showreel and one that eschews a truly griping story line in favour of a plodding trawl through an endlessly dull selection of horror and science fiction conventions.
Where The Black Hole truly loses the plot is the ending. As a child it made more sense which has much to do with fact not much of world did at that stage in my life, now it seems virtually surreal. To not give anything away it appears The Black Hole has a very Biblical sense of justice, I know this was aimed at a more 'mature' audience but even I was somewhat a taken back by its rather heady tone. When all is said and done The Black Hole is a Disney film that maybe a 'cult' favourite for some but in the cold light of day is a somewhat missed opportunity to push the House of Mouse away from its animated roots.