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Topic: The Black Hole - Thoughts? Post Reply | Post New Topic
Ed Aycock
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Joined: 05 May 2004
Location: United States
Posts: 1004
Posted: 27 November 2018 at 9:55am | IP Logged | 1 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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Joined: 16 April 2004
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Posted: 27 November 2018 at 12:58pm | IP Logged | 2 post reply

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

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Peter Martin
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Joined: 17 March 2008
Location: Canada
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Posted: 27 November 2018 at 4:38pm | IP Logged | 3 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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Location: United States
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Posted: 27 November 2018 at 7:26pm | IP Logged | 4 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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Joined: 07 July 2006
Location: United States
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Posted: 28 November 2018 at 11:58am | IP Logged | 5 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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Joined: 09 June 2004
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Posted: 29 November 2018 at 3:52pm | IP Logged | 6 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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Joined: 25 March 2009
Location: United States
Posts: 8363
Posted: 15 December 2018 at 3:52pm | IP Logged | 7 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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Andrew Bitner
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Joined: 01 June 2004
Location: United States
Posts: 5962
Posted: 17 December 2018 at 2:11pm | IP Logged | 8 post reply

What would a good remake look like?

If you wanted to make a new, spacegoing version of The Tempest, which is what this seemed most like to me-- then dispense with the black hole itself and pursue a more basic adaptation. A space mission discovers a lost derelict on the edge of known space, where an infamous scientist has made alien technology (or biology) serve his ends-- and vengeance has fallen into his lap.

If you want to make a story around the idea of perching at the edge of a black hole, then infuse it with some human drama: a scientist desperate to prove a theory, a crewman obsessed with the idea that this is a gateway to Heaven or Hell or whatever, a team that is slowly fraying under the stress of the horrifying gravity well just outside the window...

Really, there are ways to go. What would you do if Disney hired you to remake this movie, starting from scratch?
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Dave Kopperman
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Joined: 27 December 2004
Location: United States
Posts: 1977
Posted: 17 December 2018 at 10:23pm | IP Logged | 9 post reply

Some of the comments here about how to 'fix' The Black Hole remind me of a drummer acquaintance of mine who maintained that "Dark Side of the Moon" would be a perfect record if, instead of Nick Mason on drums, Keith Moon were playing.

Thing is, it's the weird flaws that make TBH work as it does.  Some of the fixes here would basically make it into 'Event Horizon,' or some other space horror thing.  The tension between the cutesy and creepy are woven into Disney DNA, and that's what makes TBH such a fascinating film.  Yes, it's a failure as a science-fiction movie.  But as the last gasp of 1950's style Hollywood prestige sci-fi, it's a beautiful-looking, sumptuously scored bit of popcorn pseudo-profundity.  And I wouldn't have it any other way (giant flaming ball of paraffin and all). 
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Brian Hague
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Joined: 14 November 2006
Posts: 8515
Posted: 18 December 2018 at 2:39am | IP Logged | 10 post reply

The ball of paraffin makes you wax nostalgic, does it? :-)

But I agree. One thing lost in the rush to remake is the unique tone so many of these pictures create for themselves. The new Clash of the Titans isn't a patch on the original despite all of the "improvements" made. And a "better," more consistent Black Hole wouldn't be as effective in the moments when, say, Maximillian kills Durant or Reinhardt finds himself imprisoned within his enforcer. Those beats stand out in part because of how strange they are in context with the rest of the movie and would likely be less effective otherwise.

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Brian Rhodes
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Joined: 19 April 2004
Location: United States
Posts: 3168
Posted: 18 December 2018 at 11:23am | IP Logged | 11 post reply

Some of the comments here about how to 'fix' The Black Hole remind me of a drummer acquaintance of mine who maintained that "Dark Side of the Moon" would be a perfect record if, instead of Nick Mason on drums, Keith Moon were playing.

I'm not a drummer. Not even a musician. But I like rock music and have heard DSOTM and enough of the Who's music that preceded it that I'd have to say that's a bad match. Moon's wild energy and power fit well with the Who's bombast. Pink Floyd seemed to be going for something more...I don't want to use the wrong word...precise? Sublime?  Either you make him conform to that style or you let him Moon or the other suffers for it. 

If you get a deadly serious, slick CGI remake of THE BLACK HOLE, then you lose the vibe of the original. 

Edited by Brian Rhodes on 18 December 2018 at 11:26am
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Steven Myers
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Joined: 10 June 2004
Location: United States
Posts: 5346
Posted: 18 December 2018 at 8:17pm | IP Logged | 12 post reply

My cousin took me and my siblings to see this. Basically it was this or Star Trek:TMP. I think this was the better film. But all I really liked was the lasers and robot fights. I did buy some toys and the 3-pack of comics. I've read that there is a 4th issue that was printed in much smaller numbers.
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