1979 / Director. Gary Nelson.
Once again I am getting stuck into a heap of classic live-action Disney features. I love 'em. THE BLACK HOLE came at a time when Star Wars was dominating popular culture and every studio in Hollywood was looking to capitalise on it. This was Disney's attempt. It tells the story of an exploration crew sent into far space. Along their journey they encounter a black hole and narrowly escape its clutch. On the fringe they also discover another space craft, which is identified as a mission that disappeared over 20 years prior. They board it to discover that the crew have vanished and a mad-scientist has built a unit of robots, He has been planning to travel through the black hole. The film plays out much more like Star Trek meets 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea and showcases an impressive use of visual FX. It's a good looking movie and the technology is well envisioned and conceived. It was the first Disney feature to receive a PG rating and the story does delve into some dark themes. Robert Forster is particularly good as the crew's captain who is eager to leave the presence of this lunatic scientist. Anthony Perkins, Ernest Borgnine and Maximilian Schell all offer good support. Where the film falters is in its depiction of a R2-D2-like robot. In a clear attempt to appeal to the Star Wars audience the cartooney & comical nature of this creation comes off more like a cheesy Lost In Space (Danger! Danger!) bot and diminishes the otherwise serious nature of the story. It's definitely a contrived movie and languishes slightly too long on a "talkie" middle act but by the time the final credits appear I always come away from The Black Hole thoroughly entertained... hell, I return to it often for a reason. A new remake is underway with Joseph Kinsinski (Tron Legacy, Oblivion) directing and John Spaihts (Alien, Prometheus) writing. That sounds VERY promising to me.