VIDEO: The Black Hole (1979)

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We made it, folks! Sofie’s final Requested Review! Unfortunately, we end things on something of a dud. She reviews the mostly forgotten The Black Hole, Disney’s first attempt at trying to cash in on the success of Star Wars. Also, stay tuned for an appearance by Mr. Mendo and a special announcement about Sofie’s show!

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  • It’s a new dork, it’s a new day, a new Liv for us and it’s sounding good. Sorry about that, it was too tempting. That’s an interesting new title and indeed pretty accurate if you don’t mind me saying. Should give you more leeway to be more adorkable but also to give us a bit more adult humour what with the pun and all. I wonder what your new opening sequence is going to be like? Well if one thing is consistent with you, it’s your unpredictability as Amarant Coral would say. Points to whoever got that without Googling it!

    As for this film, yep I’m gonna skip it. Doesn’t seem like it’s going to appeal to me since I’m neutral when it comes to sci-fi. Don’t love it, don’t hate it, if something comes along in the genre that catches my attention and wows me, great stuff but it’s not my go-to genre. Star Wars was mainly good when I was a kid when I had the original trilogy boxset and I never missed an episode of Red Dwarf when it was on, but that was mainly for the comedy, characters and look of the whole thing, not necessarily the setting. So if a sci-fi movie doesn’t grab my attention, it feels like a waste of time so I’ll avoid this one. Not like the plague since it looks good for it’s time (Looking it up it got 2 visual Oscar nominations, one in cinematography) and seems to be a lot easier on the eyes than Galaxy of Terror (maybe Cecil will cover that one day).

    • Sofie Liv

       Opening sequence? what new opening sequence? I am supposed to work on a new opening sequence?
      But glad you like the new show title, I think it’s a little bit less generic than the last one, and yeah.. allows me to play up a persona while firing off any corck jokes I should want to.

      Skip it, it’s dulll…. what about Doctor who? you no like Doctor who? … D:

      • Never said I didn’t like the Doctor! I used to watch it quite a bit when it returned to our screens with Eccleston and I do remember a few episodes, one that really stood out to me which turned game shows into a fight for life, until we realised it was a transporter beam rather than a laser beam. I do check it out now and then, I’m just not a long time follower and fan like most people are around here, sorry. :/

        Hey you could have no title sequence at all and I wouldn’t really care, all that matters is the show you put on. It was more of a flippant question if anything. Do what you want and do best.

        Do more Corck jokes? I prefer bottle cap humour myself. :P

        • Sofie Liv

           I’m going to make toilet brush jokes if you don’t soon keep quiet.

  • Muthsarah

    Looks more like Disney was trying to rip-off 2001.  It feels more like they were going for old-school sci-fi, lots of ideas, exploring the universe (WITH SCIENCE!) and the human psyche, not just having a bunch of droids and Ewoks running around.  If Disney was trying to piggy-back on Star Wars, I would think they of all companies would making something that looks like a kids’ movie, not a dark and serious drama set in outer space.

    Was there anything of real substance to the movie?  Philosophical discussion on the nature of humanity, right vs wrong, the hardships of living in space, or in isolation?  Does it feel like a book (a decent one, that is)?  Or did it just feel like the people making it had no idea who their audience was?  I find it hard to believe that a movie that looks like this would have gone over well with the Star Wars crowd, then or (especially) now.  Which maybe is why it’s “forgotten”, despite having a really impressive cast.

    I’ve known of this movie for a long time, but I’ve avoided seeing it because I have no idea what to expect and thus no idea what kind of mood I should be in when I see it.  Is it campy and silly by now, is it dialogue-heavy or an SFXtravaganza, is it supposed to be scary?

    So you’re changing your title?  Are you changing the types of movies you’ll be reviewing?  Bringing in guest stars?  Wearing inexplicable Sailor scout wigs? (hello Mendo)

    • Sofie Liv

       probably a mixture of both, tons of things tried to ripp off Star Wars at the time… I don’t know what the fuck those cutesy robots even made in that movie.. they called them names! bloody names!

      Urh well, as it turns out evil dude did not build any robots but converted the rest of the crew into cyborgs, his argument being “They had died if I didn’t.” but we don’t even now that as the movie pretty soon after just stamps him insane.. And the discussion we could have had their about survival vs. morality, it’s just dropped on the floor, suddenly it tries to be an action pieces but it’s not engaging and then returns.. I do think the plot about a man trapped in space and converts his crew into mindless cyborgs to safe them and then goes insane himself with grief, could be a very interesting Doctor who plot! The cyborgs also be a fun monster chasing the doctor down, and being delivered with quirky humour together with a more serious moment as all is revealed, all delivered in the neat sum of fourty minutes, could have been pretty good.. but no, this is just boring.

      And yeah, yeah I am. No I will not be changing the type of movies, what I will do is attempt to define my reviewers character a bit more so she will become.. a character.
      I thought about what aspects of myself I can play up, and I figured.. if there is some-thing I have always been and will continue being, it’s a bit of a dork, so why not play that up? I think it could make for funny jokes on a consisten basis, and be different from other people, I don’t think I’ve heard of other people whom out-right made theirs enternet persona into a “Dork.” it’ll just be me playing an aspect up of me that’s always been present, but just a bit more.. to define the character more and perhaps, build towards a little more story line.. not a lot, I know people don’t come for the story line, but I want to work in it.

      Beside I all-ready have plenty of guest stars on my show.. I mean.. just wait for my next episode.. just you wait.. just you wait.. muhahahaha.

      Seriously, you are going to dunk your head into a desk over this one.

      • Muthsarah

        ” probably a mixture of both, tons of things tried to ripp off Star Wars
        at the time… I don’t know what the fuck those cutesy robots even made
        in that movie.. they called them names! bloody names!”

        Have you seen Forbidden Planet?  It has a similar goofy-looking robot (the iconic Robby the Robot), who’s simply called Robby by the other characters.  But it works.

        If you want to wipe your brain clean of this movie, see Forbidden Planet.  It’s Shakespeare in outer space!  It’s the #1 most clear inspiration for Star Trek (it feels sooo much like a very, very good episode of the old show)!  It has Frank Drebin as the hero!  And, according to Wiki, they even based a Doctor Who episode on it.  It’s pure, high-class old school sci-fi.  And I recommend it to everyone.

        “Urh well, as it turns out evil dude did not build any robots but
        converted the rest of the crew into cyborgs, his argument being “They
        had died if I didn’t.” but we don’t even now that as the movie pretty
        soon after just stamps him insane.”

        Just from the set-up, that’s exactly what I had guessed had happened.  I guess “The Black Hole” also refers to the inner abyss people can sink into when bled of their humanity by solitude and blah blah other deep stuff.  Still sounds like it coulda worked, even if it turned into an action/horror movie two-thirds of the way in.  First third plot, second third ideas, last third tense thriller.  Maybe it’s good that Disney’s remaking this, since there’s clearly something to work with here.

        • Thomas Stockel

           Are they still going through with remaking it?  I hadn’t heard anything about the project in such a long time I figured it had gone into development hell by now.

          • Muthsarah

            I don’t know.  They may just be putting off production until they can be more confident of its success.  Maybe they were waiting on how John Carter turned out, or maybe they have another space movie in the works that they want to test out too.

            Given that it’s Disney and sci-fi, I suspect they wouldn’t even dream of going ahead on a production like this on less than maybe $120 million (low-budget sci-fi would be hard to sell).  Or maybe they’re just waiting on Johnny Depp to sign on. :p

          • Sofie Liv

             Maybe it was also put to a halt because the reason Disney wanted to re-make it was that they were in a search of a boys franchise to oppose their girls franchise. And space adventure.. that just spells boy all over it doesn’t it?

            But as it stands now, Disney have bought themselves two all-ready highly succesful ‘boys’ franchises.. Marvel and Lucas Art respectively, and with them hoping they can find a way to release a new star wars movie every year for a while… re-making black holes seems a little redundant now doesn’t it?

      • Zekk_Jedi_Knight

         I remember this movie, I liked the floating robot hero and the other bot’s sacrifice at the end (even if that dialogue was awful) I also remember as a kid being scared but intrigued by the creepy masked Cyborg guys. Beyond that I don’t think I cared much. Nor did I ever have any desire to watch it again, not cause it was bad (except the Black Hole science) it was just quite boring and, except for the climax, slow.

        You’re right its main problem is that it seems like the plot to a 45[or 30]min sci-fi show was stretched into a movie; another thing in common with ST TMP (though at least that had some philosophical examination, not much, but some). I wish people would learn that that doesn’t work, but that’s what we got again with ST 9 … good news, I bet no one at Disney is pointing to this and saying “This! This is what we want for SW VII!”

    • MichaelANovelli

      I’m more concerned about those mysterious black bars that seem to be following me, everywhere. Maybe Sofie was watching me on TV or something…

  • Thomas Stockel

    You know, as bad as this movie is I think there is one Star Wars inspired rip off that is even worse: Moonraker.

    Does anyone know if this film rips off Shakespeare somehow?  The plot seems, I dunno, Shakespearean.  Bad Shakespearean to be sure, but…Maybe I’m just thinking of Forbidden Planet.

    Anyway.  No love for Star Trek, The Motion Picture?  Sometimes I feel like I’m the only guy on the internets that likes that movie. :/

    • Sofie Liv

      I actually saw Moonraker ones….. I blocked it from my mind. 

      there’s elements in Star Trek the motion picture I like, but none of them seems to ever be exploited to their full potential, and mostly it’s just a very slow moving film, i’m not angry I saw it but.. there’s a reason why it’s called Star Trek the Slow-motion picture by most fans :/

    • You’re not. I love “ST-TMP” too. I treasure my “Director’s Edition DVD”, as it’s the only way to see that particular cut. It’s not on Blu-Ray; the theatrical cut is. Paramount didn’t want to pony up the bucks for Foundation Imaging to do the new effects in 1080 back in 2000, but even on an HDTV, they look great. Also, the “DE” has never been shown on TV, despite many cable airings of the theatrical version over the past six or so months. It’s also been out-of-print for a few years.
      The people at CBS haven’t forgotten “The Black Hole”; they run it every so often on some of their Showtime channels.

    • Marvin_Arnold

       If you want to kwetch Shakespeare into it, you can see it as a version of “The Tempest” as well, like “Forbidden Planet”. An ADD version, though…

      And I love STTMP as well.

  • I like this movie!!  I have it on wide screen vhs!!!!

    • Sofie Liv

       good you can enjoy it, I was just personally immensely bored.

  • TheScottCSmith

    Sofie, you can call your show whatever you’d like and I’d watch it.  

    • Sofie Liv

       Thank you! :)

  • MephLord

    I’m wondering if the name change will have any affect on Legacy Hunting, or will that continue on as is?  Yes, I am really curious to see if that excellent series is still ongoing.  As for the movie, I only really was scared by the Black Hole itself (that visual was the most impressive to me), the rest of the movie seemed like a snail paced cartoon.

    • Sofie Liv

       it’ll continue as it is.

      yeah.. yeah it did.

  • John Wilson

    I remember really liking the black hole. I also like 2001 so that may be a factor. And speaking of requested reviews is  Cosmopolis going to be done? That movie a gold mine for Hack attack or any other show:).

    • maarvarq

      I remember really liking the black hole. I also like 2001 so that may be a factor.
      Stand at the blackboard and write out 1000 times.
      The Black Hole is nothing like 2001, A Space Odyssey.”
      (including bolds and italics :-P)

      My enduring memory of this excuse for movie science fiction is the bad guy robots with the “cool” double-barrelled blasters managing to miss their targets on both sides at once. It was all very silly.

      • Sofie Liv

         If he likes it, good for him, as I said the movie is not shit or any-thing, I was just personally bored deeply by it.
        And no I personally don’t enjoy A Space odyssey either, but I can admit it has cinematogrophy beyond belief and have a very big worth as it stands.. I just don’t want to go back and watch.

        • maarvarq

           Sorry Sofie, I was half-joking when I said that, mostly bemused at the juxtaposition of the two. 2001 is the closest movie I know to being a great science fiction movie. Even Blade Runner, whilst a great movie, isn’t IMNSHO great SF because it’s all in service of the “film noir of the future” mood piece rather than being any serious attempt at world building.

          • Sofie Liv

             I’m still never ever going to see 2001 ever again.

          • I took me a long time to understand and appreciate 2001!!!  Although it is slow Star TRek (1979)  Always reminds me of happier times!!!

          • Randolph Quazalpene

            lols I love 2001 in that sort lets drunk and watch it kind of things. watch it when I need to sleep as well. not b/c its not thought provoking, I find it oddly relaxing, is that wierd?

        • danbreunig

          To think it’s been a whole year now…and yet I still miss that red suitcase… :(

          First off, I just once again want to thank you Sofie for being such a good sport for tackling this one–in fact, you’re the first person I ever heard say: Something can be so boring that it’s not worth the trouble to actually look for anything bad about it. Before I first watched this review last year I knew right away you didn’t enjoy it, only because this is the single shortest movie review you’ve made (only 5
          minutes). A really great or really awful movie you can always remember, but a middle-of-the-road film like this will easily split those who like or dislike it.

          I just rewatched this review tonight and I wanted to add a couple major points here, which I’m saying only now because I wasn’t in these Forums yet when you posted this review last December.

          First a matter of opinion, or at least perspective: you said the biggest disappointment was that this was a Disney movie that didn’t feel like a proper Disney movie–and i agree with you there. The only difference is I see that as a GOOD thing: the benefit is that it’s a Disney movie that doesn’t feel like a proper Disney movie.

          This is from Disney’s dark era between Walt’s death and the Little Mermaid-launched Renaissance, so the company was in a rather unfortunate position to take some risks to stay afloat–in this case, “serious” live-action sci-fis like this and Tron (these two are often paired together by fans). I’ll bet quite a few people in every level at Disney Studios put down their collective foot and said “We can’t keep doing singing cartoon animals forever”. Looking at their overall history, I’m glad they actually took this risk and show that they could at least expand their artistic limits, even if the movie lacked in performance. They proved that they could do more than singing cartoon animals and “fun for the whole family” thinking. Sometimes “special recipe” can easily become “mass formula”.

          Was it (and several other movies and shows of the era) made to piggyback on the success of Star Wars: A New Hope? Sure. Was it *created* because of Star Wars? Not really: the Black Hole script was floating around longer than Lucas’ space-story script, and at first TBH was planned to be more serious–those cute robots (the most Disney thing about the movie!) were more blah originally.

          As for rip-offs, honestly, I see less Star Wars and more of a future space sci-fi version of “castaways land on island, meet long-lost famous scientist and his memorable henchman, discover scientist’s mad exploited humanoid creations, and try escaping with few survivors in the end” plotline.

          The second major thing is about the review itself. Love it or hate it, there was one aspect of this movie that I was really, really, REALLY hoping that you would look at and discuss, but didn’t: the ambiguous ending. I really want to hear your own opinion and perspective, Sofie, just about this one thing:

          What do YOU think that ambiguous Heaven & Hell ending was all about?

  • sofie,  did you name yourself after the toy doll line??  I found toy dolls with your name on it on Facebook???

    • Sofie Liv

       No.. i’ve never heard of such a doll line..

  • maarvarq

    Last review, sweetness? Did you do the pilot episode of the 70s Wonder Woman series and I missed it, or are you lumping that in with something else?

    • Sofie Liv

       Oh you are going to love it.. wait for it, it wont be like any of the others supposed requested reviews and thus I wont categorise it as a requeted review but a full-blown review as a part of my genuine series.

      • maarvarq

         Cool. Thanks!

        • Sofie Liv

           I told you back then, I was going to do that review any-ways at some point no matter what, you were wasting your request, but you insisted, so well, what it did was pushing the thing a bit forward, nothing else.

          • You expanded a requested review into a full review?  Gosh, I kind of wished you did that with the Muppets.  I could have listened to you talk about that movie for about 49 minutes or so.  

          • Sofie Liv

            Doctor who the movie was sort of also exspanded into an entire twenty minutes review, and yeah, that one was a request to.

            You know, the reason why I did them this way was for time, it was much quicker for me to do this that way, so I also can do my regular reviews in between. The reason why Doctor who was so long was because I felt like I had a lot to say about the movie that couldn’t be covered on mere ten minutes, and that’s really it. Also I wanted to cosplay.

            The reason why Wonder Woman is going to be so long is because it was an episode I allready knew I was going to do any-way! for.. secret reasons… that you all-ready know of miss title card artist.. but shh.. secret.

          • Muthsarah

            Hmm….you’re not going the cosplay route, are ya?  I thought you were aiming for dork, not geek goddess.

          • Sofie Liv

             why does one exclude the other?

          • Muthsarah

            ‘Spose it doesn’t have to.  Depends on how you define the words.

            I grew up thinking that “dork” meant someone who was socially inept, whereas “geek” was more general, and could mean anyone with socially unusual tastes, good or bad (this isn’t the old old definition, like someone who bites the heads off of chickens).  A geek could still be popular, for instance, like someone who’s cool in an unusual way, or someone who likes niche stuff but is still considered cool by those who don’t.  As geeky things are now more popular than ever with the masses, “geek” is no longer a bad word, though back before LotR, comic book movies, video games, and things like that got really popular and socially acceptable, I don’t recall hearing that word used as a compliment.

            A geek god or geek goddess, especially, is someone who is worshiped by geeks, like Joss Whedon or anyone associated with him, or just a really attractive cosplayer that geeks drool over.

            It’s all subjective, of course.  But I still view “geek” as a better thing to be called than “dork”, which I don’t think has been reclaimed yet.  You can still be a loveable dork, but usually only other dorks or geeks would like it, whereas everyone seems to like geeks now.  Progress.

          • Sofie Liv

             Two fictional characters I would define as being dorks.
            Darkwing Duck and the Doctor X)

            Yeah, I also define a dork like some-one whom is kind of socially inept and stands out as they enter a room because they are kind of out of place. When a dork attempts to act cool.. that person would fail so hard, a dork is the opposit of cool.

            But they would also be very associated with the geek as it befals naturally for a dork to be exspert on some field.. a field which may seem aline to other people and the dork can be so caught up in it that it doesn’t even occour to them that other people don’t follow at all. They are often distreet and captured in their own world and thing, so captured that what happens right beside them can become compleately ignored.

            Basically.. all qualities within myself I am choosing to put a magnifying glass to, all though I hope to be the loveable dork kind.

            I think perhaps you could call Basil of Bakerstreet a dork as well, all though he actually manages to be cool.

  • The_Stig

    I was pretty much raised on the Disney Channel back when it was first launched as a premium cable channel and I have a huge fondness for the films in the Roy Disney-Michael Eisner era. It was a down period for the company, sure. The animation before Little Mermaid wasn’t much to write home about but it also produced some kickass live action films like Tron, Witch Mountain, Natty Gann, Watcher in the Woods, Something Wicked This Way Comes, and yes, this one. The Black Hole is notable for being the first Disney film that was rated PG which was unheard of for this company at the time. It had profanity and up until then more violence than any other film the studio had ever put out. Disney wants us to forget this particular era, but they also released films with cojones. Was it out of financial desperation? Yes, but quality is quality.

    You think THIS movie is difficult to sit through? Watch Silent Running sometime. At least The Black Hole didn’t have a Joan Baez song in the middle of it (yes, it’s THAT kind of movie). Still, it is notable for being a direct influence on MST3K.

    • Muthsarah

      What about The Great Mouse Detective?  That’s better than anything Disney’s done since The Lion King.

      • Sofie Liv

         For the record, I like a lot of movies Disney produced after Lion King, I know I am a minority, but I really do like Hercules. Mulan also a great movie. Tarzan, Brother bear, emperors new greeve, I wouldn’t just dismiss those movies. Out of their 3D animated stuff I actually feel like that “Meet my family Robinson.” and “Bolt.” were two movies dismissed by the over-all public far to quick, no one even remembers them now, that’s a bit sad as they both had great creativity and even heart to them.

        The Mouse detective is freaking awesome though, and that out of ALL disney movies ever made, that that one didn’t get a movie sequel nor a television show is baffling to me, I mean.. that would be the most obvious candidate for such a thing wouldn’t it? What was Dawsons end comment on the movie. “I and Basil had many strange adventures together.” meaning, these two will go out and have adventures Sherlock Holmes style, honestly out of all Disney movies, I should think that would be the best candidate for sequel, the only one where a sequel would actually make sense.. or is it just me thinking that?

      • The_Stig

        Great Mouse Detective came out during a time when the animation division was righting the ship at the tail end of Disney’s ‘dark age’. But yes. It is awesome.

    • Randolph Quazalpene

      I have very good memories of the original escape to witch mountian (always pretended going on trips in my grandparents motorhome was to go find aliens), but its one of those things I haven’t seen in decades, and scared if I watch it now w/ my jaded mind it’ll ruin the sweet memory.

  • Calum Syers

    Mendo’s cameo cracked me up!

    Good review. I’ve never seen “The Black Hole”, but it reminded me a little of the fake movie they’re making in “Argo”; which if you have seen the film, know anything about the film or the historical case, was intended to look as much like “Star Wars” as possible to fool the Iranian governemnt. This film looks like it could have easily been the same thing.

  • Randolph Quazalpene

    im not going to lie, I loved this movie as kid, maxamillian (big red robot) was up there on my scarometer w/ pre-wussified vadar and the like.  But looking back, I’d have to agree Like James cameron Avatar it was was all about the looks and not the substance.  Though unlike Avatar (blue cat version) black hole was such a flop it cursed disney production of sci fi for decades (see john carter for continuing this trend sadly enough).     The old (i mean old) comic book series of black hole made more sense, but this does not forgive just how much the movie dropped the ball, especially at its ending: regilious commentary blam out of no where…like what the deuce.

    Ps. I posted a comment on muppets but somehow I lost it somewhere since I watched muppets review from another link, if you see my post please return my baby!!!!!  :P

  • James Elfers

    As a time capsule Black Hole is priceless. No other film gives such a complete view of what the Disney studios were like at the time and  how, in general, all other studios had such a hard time understanding and replicating the success of Star Wars. The period between the release of Star Wars  in 1977 and the Release of the Empire Strikes in 1980 back was one of the bleakest ever in terms of quality, intelligent science fiction movies. Arguably the best film released during that period was Close Encounters of the Third Kind (In my opinion one of the stupidest movies ever made but considered by most a classic) Everything else was mostly really really bad.  Damnation Alley anyone? Judged solely on the era in which it was produced, it is amazing how watchable and ALMOST good  Black Hole is. SOME of the Acting is great. SOME of the special effects are superior to just about anything else produced at the time. It strives for big ideas and a 2001 a Space Odyssey ending.  Unfortunately it bites off far more than it can chew. One is left wondering what a more confident studio or more innovative director could have done with the same elements. Now THERE is a movie I would love to see! 

  • JamSanJose

    The final request review? You’re still denying I sent you $25 for your new laptop. Do the math on what you received. Sorry I can’t prove it, but how many people are actually faking requests? Just review Excalibur please. Other wise good luck with your show, but I’m not going to watch anymore, unless you do my review. Also I was 8 when The Black Hole came out and I loved it.

  • Halosoulfire

    What killed the movie for me as a child was the fact that the ending did not make sense, and left me wondering “what happens next?”, which in my point of view is a cardinal sin.  The movie felt incomplete and there was a certain icky factor toward the end that as a child I didn’t understand but as a man I want to ram my head into the nearest wall out of sheer frustration.

    There were a few positives, the robots were memorable, there were a few very comical scenes, and the air of mystery that was honestly there made most parts of the movie very enjoyable even with age.

  • I still enjoy the Black Hole. Ironically, it’s very atmospheric(get it? huh huh), the music is incredible, the movie is kind of like a haunted house film. The elements are with few exceptions very neat practical effects(I’ve always loved the robots, especially V.I.N.Cent), it’s just a wild ride from an era where Science fiction movies were just starting to become a visceral and intense experience. 

  • James Stover

    The Black Hole was in development years before Star Wars. It’s a common misconception that it was ordered up because of the success of the Lucas film. It definitely shows that some elements from the Star Wars success were shoehorned in late in the game, but the majority of the film was in the works long before anyone knew of a galaxy far, far away….

  • danbreunig

    Look, I know you’re tired of me coming back favorably to this movie, but I just had to stop by once more to pay tribute to one of my two favorite Maximilians of The Black Hole fame. I’ve just learned of Maximilian Schell’s recent passing, and say what you want about TBH, I’m glad to have known him in his otherwise obscure role as Dr. Hans Reinhardt. And he had the badest Disney robot henchman in the other Maximillian. Sail on and beyond, Herr Schell; I’ll play John Barry’s Overture tonight.