The Black Cauldron (1985)

Genres - Action, Adventure, Children's/Family, Fantasy  |   Sub-Genres - Fantasy Adventure, Sword-and-Sorcery  |   Run Time - 105 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - PG
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Review by Andrea LeVasseur

The Black Cauldron is an unusual film from Disney that was supposed to mark a new era for its animation division. Instead, it failed at the box office and Disney would not recover until The Little Mermaid in 1989. A departure from the company's usual tendency to cheer up mythical stories, The Black Cauldron is an appropriately dark adventure-fantasy that benefits from the absence of any superfluous songs. Produced with a cruder animation style during the studio's rocky times in the late '70s and early '80s (starting with The Aristocats), it still looks excellent, filmed in 70mm and employing some computer animation enhancement. The story was based on two books from Lloyd Alexander's children's novel series The Chronicles of Prydain. Providing a predictable tale, it bears similarities to the Star Wars saga as well as a Raiders of the Lost Ark-style ending. Perhaps due to the PG rating, surreal settings, and evil characters, The Black Cauldron was a huge commercial flop upon its theatrical release, but it remains notable as an uncommonly risky Disney animated feature.