Plot: What’s it about?
Two years after the first Star Wars movie, visual effects were becoming more important and more competitive. That year was the only year five films were competing in the category. They were Steven Spielberg’s 1941, Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Moonraker, Alien and the very first PG Disney film combining some computer images with a robot and the sensibility of a fifties science fiction film. That entry was Gary Nelson’s “The Black Hole”.
The exploring ship Palomino explores the greater regions into outer space until the crew encounter a Black Hole. As they get closer they encounter a ship known as the U.S.S. Cygnus that has stranded in space for quite some time. The ship’s master, Captain Hans Reinhart (Maximillian Schell), invites the crew onto its ship and proposes to go on a greater mission. His mission is to go into the Black Hole and back, but the crew of the Palomino start to realize there is more to Captain Reinhart than his impossible mission.
The story is an amusing one, but one that is of no great shakes. That is not to say that the film lacks fun. The supporting cast includes some wonderful actors of longevity like Robert Forster, Ernest Borgnine and Yvette Mimieux as well as the great voicework of both Roddy McDowall as the robot V.I.N.C.E.N.T and Slim Pickens as the veteran robot B.O.B. The film is amusing, funny, visually striking, entertaining and has the mood of making a movie for the fun of it. The shot of the big fireball rolling in the Cygnus is always one that has stuck with me for a while and even though Apocalypse Now and Alien ended up victorious in their appropriate categories that the Black Hole was nominated for, it is a movie that is worthy of being in that good company. remains a great guilty pleasure that never loses it’s sense of fun from one viewing to the next.
Video: How does it look?
The Black Hole is filmed in Technovision and the DVD retains it’s 2.35:1 aspect ratio. With the exception of one grainy shadow shot of the Cygnus, the print remains clean and the transfer is free of most dirt or print flaws. The special effects luckily don’t look obviously matted, like the early video releases of the “Star Wars” films and the transfer keeps the source materials looking the best it’s ever looked on any release. Nice job.
Audio: How does it sound?
The 5.1 Dolby Digital mix has it’s limits when it comes to the 70’s sound source material, but the track expands a little more past the beautiful John Barry score and the dialogue. The laser guns during the shooting gallery with the robots is a treat for the ears on the front channels with the balance of dialogue throughout. A good track. The disc also has an inferior full-frame version on the other side and an overture on the widescreen side only.
Supplements: What are the extras?
The only supplements on the Black Hole DVD are a still gallery, the aformentioned overture on the widescreen side and a theatrical trailer.