The Black Hole

I think the black hole has an infection.
"You can't escape the most powerful force in the universe."

Except when you can, and everyone literally spends the entire movie doing that, but I guess in this circumstance that's sort of splitting hairs. Anyway welcome to a new week at the Tagline, and today I'll be launching into the deepest, most boring portions of space, to talk about the 1979 Disney film The Black Hole, a movie which actually has very little to do with a black hole, it just sort of takes place near one, and I guess they go into it at some point or whatever. For the most part the black hole serves as backdrop for crazy scientist theater (and not the funny Mystery Science Theater kind). This will hopefully become a monthly tradition here at the Tagline (shitty ass movies on Tuesday) but for now let's just enjoy this really execrable instance of vintage science fiction. Released shortly after Star Wars made a big splash and brought science fiction to the forefront of popularity, the Disney goons decided it was high time to try and get a slice of that pie. This movie is significant (especially in light of Disney's mighty empire today) in that it represented the first Disney production that didn't receive an all ages rating, due to some mild portrayals of death, and some profanity. I find it rather hilarious that now, over 30 years later, Disney actually OWNS Star Wars. Anyway, let's go back in time to when Disney kind of sucked, and talk about this real piece of work. 

Behold the USS Snooze Cruiser
The Black Hole focuses on a crew of explorers aboard the really stupid looking space ship the USS Palomino on their way back from a long mission presumably. The crew consists of the captain, Dan, first officer Charlie, a journalist named Harry Booth (played by Ernest Borgnine) a scientist who has ESP but for some reason mostly only in relation to a robot (which frankly doesn't make a ton of sense but okay that's the thing I guess) named Kate McCrae,  a civilian doctor named Alex and a robot named Vincent or VINCENT which is an acronym for something intensely stupid. Despite his dumb name, Vincent is probably the most competent and heroic character in the movie, so keep that in mind as I go on. The Palomino and her crew discover a black hole on their way home, with a ship parked next to it, seemingly immune to the immense gravitational pull. They identify this ship as the Cygnus, a missing expedition ship that Kate's father was on-board. Curious about the status of the Cygnus, and confused by it being anchored against the Black Hole, the Palomino crew boards to investigate. This turns out to predictably not be an awesome idea, as they are swiftly disarmed like the pack of incompetents they are. Vincent is made out of laser guns, so he is again better than the rest of the team and retains his weapons. The team is then ushered by a bunch of strange robotic black clad soldiers to the bridge of the Cygnus where they meet the obviously nutsy-coocoobar scientist Dr. Hans Reinhardt, who fills them in on the details of his crazy plan, to go into a black hole. He also has a really dickish robot named Maximillian, incidentally also the name of the actor who plays Dr. Reinhardt.

Dr. Spooky Space-Dracula.
The crew, despite being extremely thick, can still manage to tell that something is not quite right with this intensely weird dude who is somehow the only person left on a ship full of hostile or impassive robots. His story, that everyone left and he doesn't know what happened, is perhaps the most obviously untrue thing anyone has ever suggested but by the time everyone starts to figure that out they are already unarmed and surrounded by robo-soldiers. What follows is the predictably violent dissolution of the tentative relations between the doctor and the crew of the Palomino. 

I think she took that from Star Lord.
Now this movie, like so many more before it, accomplishes the spectacular task of totally missing the point of what made Star Wars fun. They see a movie about space ships and laser guns and what they take away is that space is awesome no matter what you're doing in it. So they somehow manage to make a film which makes space adventure the most boring thing imaginable. We are treated to ten minute long scenes of people floating in space saying pointless things to each other, of old guys talking about science inside boring looking rooms, and generally just a load of nonsense. Neil Degrasse Tyson is on record as referring to this movie as the most scientifically inaccurate film of all time, and I find that absolutely credible, though I'd say it is also generally idiotic besides that fact. Another detail I found stunning was the really inappropriate background "action" theme, that clearly wanted to be like the Star Wars theme but again had no idea why that theme was good, and appropriate for a scene of laser battle. You get instead a track that would be more appropriate in the background while you took a carriage ride or something.

The best characters in the movie.
It of course wouldn't be a movie from the 70s though if it didn't include a weird trippy scene with freaky heaven and hell imagery, and we get that right around then end. Thank goodness, I was really starting to worry! What I took away from the movie was that we were really lucky science fiction didn't end up being about boring characters saying dumb things at each other, while floating in space, with occasional explosions (okay so I guess Gravity happened). Close call. That's it for today! Join me again on Thursday when I go all in on jokes about balls.

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