The Black Hole (1979)

Genres - Action, Science Fiction  |   Sub-Genres - Sci-Fi Action, Space Adventure  |   Release Date - Dec 18, 1979 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 97 min.  |   Countries - United States  |   MPAA Rating - PG
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Review by Donald Guarisco

This Disney project, an attempt to challenge Star Wars, is too uneven for its own good but has earned a cult following thanks to its extraordinary look and willingness to take unusual chances. The most amazing thing about The Black Hole is how dark it is for a Disney production; it is full of horror-film-styled shocks, like the scene where Dr. Hans Reinhardt attacks one of the film's crew, and the surreal climax avoids the typical Disney happy ending. Unfortunately, the script doesn't live up to its ambitious aims; the story hints at dark avenues that it never truly commits to, and the characterizations are distressingly flat. The cast does the best they can with their mediocre roles, with Maximilian Schell turning in the most attention-grabbing work as Reinhardt and Yvette Mimieux doing the most emotionally affecting work as Kate. Behind the camera, director Gary Nelson creates some memorable set pieces (the best being a nerve-janging meteor attack), but lacks the style necessary to overpower the script's lack of substance. Despite these shortcomings, The Black Hole remains worthwhile as an experience in sight and sound. The goregously designed sets and spaceships are nothing short of stunning and the old-fashioned optical effects remain impressive even in this post-CGI era. The film also boasts an almost Wagnerian score by John Barry that could very well be his finest work outside the James Bond films. Ultimately, The Black Hole is too inconsistent in its storytelling to be truly satisfying, but its look and its unexpected surprises make it a worthwhile choice for patient cult film fanatics.