(The Disneycember logo is shown, before showing clips from The Black Hole)
Doug (vo): The Black Hole is one of those movies I always heard a lot of people talk about, but not usually very favorably. And after having finally seen it, I can definitely see why. It's Disney's attempt at trying to be every popular sci-fi film that's ever come out. In fact, you can point practically scene by scene what movie they're trying to replicate. First it's Alien, then it's Battlestar Galactica, then it's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, then it's Star Wars, and then finally, it's 2001: A Space Odyssey. In trying to combine them all together, you get a film that has very little identity and is just kind of a huge mess. But at the same time, I can't say it was...entirely bad. There's some good things about it, a couple...maybe.
Doug (vo): It starts off with an expedition in space where they come across a craft that apparently has been lost for years, a scientist and his robot standing on the edge of the Black Hole. He claims the rest of the crew died...yeah, that's it...and that he's been spending his time trying to figure out how he can go through the Black Hole and come out the other end. He thinks he's finally found a way and everybody is intrigued to see if he can actually do it. The downside is there's a lot of mysterious things going on. His robot crew almost seems a little too human, and there's just this all-around threatening tone where the people feel more like prisoners than they do guests. Secrets are discovered, sides are declared, and it's a battle to see who can get off the ship alive.
Doug (vo): The best part about the movie, strangely enough, is its atmosphere. And don't get me wrong, a lot of the effects are not very good. They're supposed to be flying around in space, but it just kind of looks like they're standing around. And the keying is really, really bad. I mean, look at that. Can you take a guess where the real film is and where the matte painting begins? Yeah, it's pretty painful. But it almost makes up for it with this gigantic feeling of dread throughout the first half. Everybody knows something sneaky is going on, but they can't quite put their finger on what it is. They're just waiting for a trigger moment to whip out their guns and start defending themselves, but there never really seems to be a reason to.
(Some clips showing one of the film's villains, Maximilian the robot, are shown)
Doug (vo): Plus, it has maybe one of the scariest robots of all time, Maximilian. Yeah, doesn't sound very scary, but whenever he's onscreen, all the music stops, all the sound goes dead, and you just feel this thing's presence. He even gets in a few decent kills every once in a while. Look at this scene!
(That scene is shown. Maximilian attacks Anthony Perkins' character Alex Durant with a spinning blade. Alex holds up a book to defend himself but Maximilian's blade goes right through the book and into Alex's chest, killing him)
Dr. Kate McCrae: Alex!!
Doug (vo): Jesus Christ! For Disney, that's pretty gruesome! For such a simple design, I love how uncomfortable I feel whenever he's onscreen. He doesn't even say anything, it's just...I don't know! It's just this presence they create.
[The film's other characters are shown]
Doug (vo): Aside from that, the evil scientist is pretty good, Ernest Borgnine adds a little bit of comedy, but all the other actors are under this really weird stoic way of acting, and it just comes across as so wooden. Even great actors like Roddy McDowall and Anthony Perkins, you can sense they're trying to get a good performance out of this, but there's just so little to work with. There's a lot of elements they throw in that don't really seem to go anywhere either. For example, this woman's telepathic. (Beat) It's useless. There's totally no point to it at all. She communicates with the robot at some point, but, what? They don't have communicators, walkie-talkies, cell phones, none of that is created in the future?
[The film's ending is shown]
Doug (vo): The ending itself is just a huge clusterfuck. It mixes in images of Heaven and Hell and...yeah, I don't know why. I don't know what it's trying to say, but it's not quite like 2001 where the vagueness is part of the intrigue. It's more like we're obviously trying to say something, you just can't figure out what it is. And based on the rest of the film, you can tell that whatever it had to say probably wasn't that intelligent or interesting.
[One scene showing an asteroid attack is shown]
Doug (vo): Look at this, this incredibly fake asteroid field is going by and one even crashes into the ship. Why the hell is it going that slowly?! They're whizzing by at incredible speeds before and now it's giving time for the characters to cross a bridge right in front of it? It's like a school crossing, it just looks ridiculous! But I do give credit to the film that it was at least trying to be a little smarter than your average sci-fi film. Yeah, Star Wars and 2001 were big hits and everybody was trying to copy them, and so is this film. But a lot of it's very dialogue focused, not much action, not much running around. I guess I kind of like the fact that it at least made an attempt to be smarter, it just didn't seem to pay off.
Doug (vo): So, yeah, I guess like what a lot of people say, it's not a very good film. Even by the "So bad, it's good" standards, it's still not very good. But I am glad I saw a few of those scenes that created some pretty decent atmosphere, even if it was really fake-looking. Definitely not one of Disney's best. You can probably just give it a pass.
(The film's final scene, showing the survivors flying off into space, is shown)