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Matt Reed
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Posted: 25 November 2018 at 2:32am | IP Logged | 1 post reply

I was nearly going to say the "40th Anniversary" but it's just the 39th. Released December 21, 1979.   What are your thoughts on this film?  It's nearly forgotten in the Disney catalog, available on the cheap on iTunes.

I will say that I thoroughly enjoyed it when I saw it in the theatre, but hold my overall rating until I see it again.  Haven't done so in nearly 35 years, but just recently bought it on digital which is the only way to get an HD copy of the film.  The knock on it holds true: it's slow.  It was decades ago and it certainly is now in a way that ALIEN and STAR WARS, made at the same time, are not.   That said, I still have a fondness for the film and am looking forward to revisiting it.  

What say you?
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John Byrne
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Posted: 25 November 2018 at 5:10am | IP Logged | 2 post reply

There was a good, serious movie there, but it got Disney-fied (when that was not a good thing), and thus lost.
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Doug Centers
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Posted: 25 November 2018 at 6:02am | IP Logged | 3 post reply

I was still just young enough to enjoy the "Disneyfication" aspect. And after seeing STAR TREK: TMP a couple of weeks earlier THE BLACK HOLE seemed to be moving at break neck speed.
I liked it so much that I'm scared to death to rewatch it nowadays.
Let me know how it holds up Matt!
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Shaun Barry
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Posted: 25 November 2018 at 9:29am | IP Logged | 4 post reply


I won't call myself an uber-fan, but I could be the biggest BLACK HOLE nerd around these parts.  I caught it at just the right age in the theaters, and I've loved it ever since, flaws and all.

I always go back to Edgar Wright's "Trailers from Hell" entry... I agree with every word of his summation 1000%:




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Brian Hague
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Posted: 26 November 2018 at 12:03am | IP Logged | 5 post reply

That was a fun look at the trailer. And, hey, I had some of those action figures, too. Never had a V.I.N.cent or a B.O.B., but I made my own. I used to have Dr. Hans Reinhart and Dr. Zarkov from the Filmation Flash Gordon have long discussions together.

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Michael Roberts
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Posted: 26 November 2018 at 12:19am | IP Logged | 6 post reply

Iíve never seen the movie all the way through. I tried once when I was a kid and got bored. But I did own the Disney Read Along Book and Vinyl Record, and I have a weird, nostalgic attachment to /that/. 



Edited by Michael Roberts on 26 November 2018 at 12:20am
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James Woodcock
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Posted: 26 November 2018 at 2:52am | IP Logged | 7 post reply

A (potentially) deep movie with a metaphysical ending.
That was then marketed at kids.
When I saw it as a 10 year old I thought its tone was all over the place - exposition here, deep discussion here and then an ending where Max and what's his name may have descended in to hell and merged, but who really knew
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Petter Myhr Ness
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Posted: 26 November 2018 at 5:14am | IP Logged | 8 post reply

It's a movie I've heard a lot about, but I can't actually remember having seen it. I doubt watching it for the first time now would do it any favours.
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Jim Muir
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Posted: 26 November 2018 at 6:35am | IP Logged | 9 post reply

Some terrific model work in it, as I remember - the kind
of Jules Verne look to the ship really stood out. The
black hole effect itself was an achievement for the
period too.
But as a child I found it boring and talky... and that
ending? Pretty out there for a kids film!
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Jack Bohn
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Posted: 26 November 2018 at 9:04am | IP Logged | 10 post reply

TCM showed it on their last Disneyfest. It really shone when paired with THE CAT FROM OUTER SPACE and THE FLIGHT OF THE NAVIGATOR. I liked it enough to record it, I haven't liked it enough to buy a DVD. Maybe if they do a special edition like they did for TRON, with intensive "making of" features.

V.I.N.CENT gets points above R2D2 in that all his Swiss-Army appendages are visible, rather than kept behind doors as a surprise. Although why he carries two laserblasters is a puzzlement.

The planned remake or sequel has apparently gone the way of more JOHN CARTER now that Disney has the actual Star Wars. That lowers the possibility of reissues of the model kits, which saddens me.
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Andrew Bitner
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Posted: 26 November 2018 at 11:37am | IP Logged | 11 post reply

I'll echo JB above. The movie *could* have been pretty cool, but it got mismanaged somewhere along the line and ended up a junkfest with semi-outdated effects and acting that went full cheddar.
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Jack Bohn
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Posted: 27 November 2018 at 9:23am | IP Logged | 12 post reply

Here's a theory from back when I was a kid, '80 or '81, whenever it would have stopped on cable before going to regular TV. Showtime got ST:TMP and THE BLACK HOLE, and some other sci-fi movies to make a theme month, including FORBIDDEN PLANET, which their listing hyped as "the movie that started it all." I took this as critical consensus and applied it everywhere, in particular to THE BLACK HOLE.

Disney has played up similarities to their 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA: the burial "at sea" and the well-appointed dining salon, and they all do cont, ain the story of an expedition that finds an isolated scientist who wants to stay isolated and to study, and whom we find has killed, and may kill again, but the story shows more elements of FORBIDDEN PLANET. Dr. Reinhart has his Id Monster, as the last few images show, but the Palomino crew had to bring along the friendly robot and the daughter of the expedition.
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Ed Aycock
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Posted: 27 November 2018 at 9:55am | IP Logged | 13 post reply

I re-watched it for the first time in over 30 years just a couple years ago.  When I was a kid, I was so taken that they had a fancy dining room! Now, I found the lobotomized crew members creepier than I did as a kid.  Maybe because I found their video games cool.  But the fireball sequence still played well as did the matte painting of the eponymous entity. 

But that ending.  Yeesh!

And you can totally see the strings on the crew members in the beginning as the bounce around in zero gravity.
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Robin Taylor
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Posted: 27 November 2018 at 12:58pm | IP Logged | 14 post reply

I loved this movie as a kid but it is a total trainwreck and tonal mishmash. Would be great remake fodder.

RT
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Peter Martin
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Posted: 27 November 2018 at 4:38pm | IP Logged | 15 post reply

I watched it again recently and didn't think it was a total disaster. It has some interesting ambiguities, a sense of eerie dread at times and the robots are good fun. Furthermore, the film looks good (for the most part), with some nice design work for the Cygnus and the robots.

The film suffers from four key areas:
1. An ill-judged ending
2. Dull human characters
3. Clunky dialogue at times
4. The 'mish-mash' element that Robin talks about above.

It's part 4 that I'm going to talk about in a bit more detail, as it derails things badly. As I said above, the film has some decent eerie bits, boarding the ghost ship only to find Dr Reinhardt and his odd crew, but is he telling the truth, there's a mystery with the limping robot, etc. This bit is all pretty good, and then there's the kind of B storyline with Old B.O.B. and his rivalry with the 'black hat' S.T.A.R. (for some reason, I think we used to call him Captain S.T.A.R. when I was a kid), which I think is also kind of fun.

But -- as I understand it-- the film was originally conceived as a kind of disaster movie and the film veers into disaster movie territory with the arrival of the meteor storm. That big fiery meteor rolling through the Cygnus as our heroes cross a gantry right before it may look pretty stunning, but it is also kind of pointless and makes no sense (the Cygnus seems to hold up remarkably well despite having such an incredibly substantial hole from just one meteor) and, worst of all, distracts and diverts the film from its core narrative.

Then we have that weird ending bolted on (and early in the film we have a line about Dante's Inferno shoe-horned into the script perhaps to foreshadow this, but it's a clunky old line that no-one would ever say).

Also casually shoe-horned in is Dr McCrae's telepathic link with V.I.N.CENT. I presume (though I don't know) that this was a kind of attempt to mimic some of the JEDI stuff from Star Wars, but in Star Wars it's not just an ancillary feature; it's carefully woven into the core of the story and ultimately proves to be a pivotal part of the film's resolution. Not here!

I still think V.I.N.CENT is a treat, in multiple ways, including Roddy McDowall's voice work, the character's unstinting confidence and bravery and the impressive full-size thing floating around on screen with the actors. Maximillian is also visually very impressive (one of the ambiguities I like is how Reinhardt seems to struggle to control Maximillian. At one point he asks Dr McCrae for protection from Maximillian, which I would take as a pretense, but later on seems genuinely annoyed that Maximillian drills Durant).

The film has some good matte painting work in general, though it's not flawless (some of the humanoids on the bridge are matte paintings in some shots and their absolute stillness destroys the illusion).






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Rick Senger
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Posted: 27 November 2018 at 7:26pm | IP Logged | 16 post reply

I was fascinated by black holes as a kid, loved Disney (like the rest of the world), and was there for TBH opening night.  Even in 1979 I'd heard there had been production problems and rewrites but it seemed to start promisingly as the Palomino crew encounters the black hole and the long lost, mysterious Cygnus.  However, with every five or so minutes that passed onboard the ship, the movie quickly lost more and more steam and by probably only a third of the way in, I had a sinking (and personally accurate) feeling that this was going to be a terrible disappointment. 

There were some neat effects and good production value.   I liked the giant computer console, enjoyed Roddy McDowell's voice and feared Maximilian (it was odd to hear Maximillian Schell calling the robot Maximillian).  The effect of the giant fireball was certainly impressive for the time.  However, overall this was a total miss for me.  The movie hype promised to show what happened inside black holes (admittedly a tough ask) but TBH really didn't even go there until the last moments and for spending a then-astronomical $20 mill, Disney's "answer" was an incredibly unsatisfying existential cop out to my 14 year old self.  I don't know what I expected, but between the thin, wooden characterizations, dumbed down comic relief robots (particularly Slim Pickens) and endless talking, this movie definitely didn't meet my expectations.
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Brian Floyd
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Posted: 28 November 2018 at 11:58am | IP Logged | 17 post reply

I wouldn't mind seeing a remake, as long as:

1. the robots are completely re-designed and maybe even CGI 

2. Completely new script, keeping only the names and basic plot, with the Disneyfication tossed out. 

3. It's a one and done film, with possibility for continuation. Not the obvious start of a franchise.

My luck, they'd cast Larry the Cable Guy as B.O.B., and Jeremy Clarkson as V.I.N.CENT.....



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Thomas Woods
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Posted: 29 November 2018 at 3:52pm | IP Logged | 18 post reply

I liked it as a kid, I would probably hate it now. I was
into the mystery and the robots.
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Stephen Churay
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Posted: 15 December 2018 at 3:52pm | IP Logged | 19 post reply

Interesting idea. Snail paced. A 100 bucks
to anyone who can actually explain the
ending. I think I read that the director
and writers don't understand it either.
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