The Black Hole (1979, Movie) – 5/10 review

Maximilian Schell: Dr. Hans Reinhardt
Anthony Perkins: Dr. Alex Durant
Robert Forster: Captain Dan Holland
Joseph Bottoms: Lieutenant Charles Pizer
Yvette Mimieux: Dr. Kate McCrae
Ernest Borgnine: Harry Booth
Writer (Story): Jeb Rosebrook
Writer (Story): Bob Barbash
Writer (Story): Richard Landau
Writer (Screenplay): Jeb Rosebrook
Writer (Screenplay): Gerry Day
Producer: Ron Miller
Director: Gary Nelson

Black Hole, The (1979)

A spaceship crew encounters another craft straying dangerously near the gateway to a black hole. They find the vessel to be manned by robots and a mad scientist.


There are some movies where you can see why the producers decided to make it but the end result goes horribly wrong. This is one of those movies. To be fair it is not a complete disaster but it is the next best thing.

This movie contains graphic violence, gory and unpleasant scenes.

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

Disney obviously saw the opportunity to make an imaginative and spectacular FX-heavy science fiction epic to cash in on the Star Wars craze. They had got hold of a quite interesting story with some nifty ideas for outrageous action set-pieces, cliff-hanging excitement, emotional heart-string tugging and awesome FX vistas. They employed a top production designer, some inventive special effects people and a master composer and threw money at the project. They messed up the casting a little with only Anthony Perkins being able to make a serious claim at actoringship but then Star Wars featured the less than charismatic line-up of Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, a walking carpet and a couple of annoying robots. The Disney scriptwriter’s even threw in a R2-D2-alike (called V.I.N.C.E.N.T.) and even went so far as to make him the best character in the movie.

Where things really fell apart was in hiring Gary Nelson (previous Disney assignment, Freaky Friday) as director. He manages to waste every good aspect of this movie. He translates outrageous action set-pieces into laughable rubbish, cliff-hanging excitement into sofa-sitting dullness, emotional heart-string tugging into cringedom and awesome FX vistas into… well, he doesn’t completely mess them up, but he tries hard! He completely misuses the talents of John Barry. He only occasionally lets the production design wow the audience. SPOILER He does not bother asking the actors to act, in fact, the best (human) cast member, Anthony Perkins, gets violently killed two-thirds of the way through. END SPOILER For about two thirds of the movie, Nelson is just about in control but then something drastic happens. The movie becomes completely embarrassing, missing every target and scuppering every possibility of talent showing through.

This is a missed opportunity. Star Trek: the Motion Picture did epic science-fiction the same year and did it right.


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