The Black Hole (1979)

Article 4929 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 9-16-2015
Directed by Gary Nelson
Featuring Maximilian Schell, Anthony Perkins, Robert Forster
Country: USA
What it is: Science fiction epic

An exploratory spaceship has to make repairs aboard a long-missing spaceship that is near the edge of a black hole in space. There, the crew meets a brilliant scientist (the only survivor of the original crew) and an assortment of robots. The scientist plans to make a journey into the black hole… but has he been totally truthful to the visitors?

I’ve never seen this movie before, but I have heard about it, and what I heard was not good. I’ve heard that it makes no sense, but that’s only the ending; most of the movie is pretty easy to suss out, as it’s your typical “mad genius” movie (think 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA or MASTER OF THE WORLD, and you’ll be within striking range) who has an obsession that may kill everyone involved. There’s an army of robots with blasters, a super-robot with a will of its own, and a pair of cute robots. How cute are they? Well, much as I like Slim Pickens as an actor, to let him voice a robot is just too painful, and the other robot (voiced by Roddy McDowall) speaks in aphorisms; they’re not near as cute as the movie wants them to be. It mostly plays out like an action thriller, but the script is pretty clumsy, and I sometimes sense the actors don’t quite know what to do with it. The ending is largely this movie’s attempt to emulate the star gate sequence of 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY, but directed without Kubrick’s sense of style and with no real point or purpose; I’d say that there is less here than meets the eye, but that would imply that what meets the eye is absorbing. The special effects are impressive, but it’s one of those movies that feels more like it was made to try to cash in on a craze than because it had any point of its own. All in all, my reaction to this one was on the level of a puzzled shrug.


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