Movie Review: The Black Hole (1979)

by StevenHelmer

A review of the science fiction movie starring Maximilian Schell and Anthony Perkins.

Synopsis: A team of scientists flying in a vessel deep in space come across a giant black hole. Upon further investigation, they discover a long-lost space ship hovering above the black hole unaffected by its immense gravity. The ship, they learn, is commanded by Dr. Hans Reinhardt and controlled by a series of androids he says he created after his crew abandoned ship 20 years earlier. His goal is to pilot the spaceship through the black hole but the visiting team believes there is something he is hiding from them.

Review

My oldest daughter recently did a school report on black holes and, because I figured it would be a nice way to reward her for the good job she did, I figured I would find a copy of this 1970s Disney film. However, after watching it with her this past weekend, I can understand why it is a movie you don’t see re-released on a regular basis.

Overall, I thought the main plot of the movie wasn’t terrible. I liked the idea of a mystery about a ship that was defying the laws of physics and the whereabouts of its crew. And, while somewhat weak, the special effects weren’t awful.

The biggest problem with this movie is it is predictable and dull. It’s not overly difficult to figure out what really happened to the crew and, once that big mystery is solved, the rest of the movie falls into a somewhat predictable format. Probably the most exciting thing about this was the various robot battles. But, even those get old after a while.

I think one thing this movie was missing was a back story. We heard bits and pieces about Reinhardt (Schell) but not a lot of detail about his background as a scientist. Considering he was able to stop his ship from falling into a black hole AND construct an army of androids by himself, it wouldn’t have hurt to tell us more about his education level.

It also would have been nice to know more about the crew of the other ship, why they were chosen for their mission (to find new life) and their own educational backgrounds. In fact, probably the only thing we really knew about any of them was Kate (Mimieux) was psychic and Harry (Borgnine) was a coward.

My daughter and I also weren’t huge fans of the ending. Granted, it wasn’t quite as predictable as the rest of the movie. But, that’s only because it was a really big mess with a variety of scenes (taking place inside the black hole) that were confusing the point we couldn’t figure out what exactly was supposed to be happening. I had hoped, after being bored watching the rest of the film, the ending would at least be memorable. But, it just wasn’t all that good.

The Black Hole

The U.S.S. Cygnus is perched precariously at the edge of a black hole -- the vast, empty nothingness where space and time end. Anything that crosses its border enters a universe...

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Final Opinion

I had hoped this film would turn out to be a forgotten gem. Instead, it was a movie I should never have wasted time watching with my daughter. The film, again, had plenty of potential. But, it just fails to live up to it on every level.

My Grade: F

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Updated: 06/29/2015, StevenHelmer
 
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