ByJames M. Tate, writer at
Top Shark Cinema Writer at and Now a Movie Pilot Remora...
James M. Tate

After the release and success of the original STAR WARS, Disney, who now owns the franchise, jumped on the laser beam bandwagon…

Attempting classic science fiction with an abundance of fantastical elements, combining your typical mad scientist motif and a neat dash of heroic peril, THE BLACK HOLE is a flawed yet fun cerebral space venture starring the recently departed Maximillian Schell as Dr. Hans Reinhardt, a rogue scientist commanding a humongous ghost ship aimed straight for – while being invisibly anchored down at the foot of – a nightmarishly palpable black hole… His mission: to study the vortex from the inside!

The crew of an American exploratory ship the U.S.S. Palamino, led by Robert Forster’s stalwart Captain Dan Holland, winds up aboard Reinhardt’s enigmatic vessel wherein the most intriguing scenes occur as the crew's "welcomed" by Reinhardt and his formidable levitating robot Maximillian, a maroon, metal-plated demon with “hands” made of twirling blades: The ominous Max provides an essentially suspenseful element… that anything can happen at any time, and most likely it won’t be good for our heroes, especially the crew’s vulnerable Science Officer Dr. Alex Durant, played by Anthony Perkins, wooed by the brilliant and famous galactic pioneer.

Meanwhile the Doubting Thomas reporter and most earthy character, Harry Booth, wielding caustic humor (speaking for the audience) throughout, had, years earlier, conducted Reinhardt’s last interview before he took off from Earth and never returned: In this scene-stealing role, veteran actor Ernest Borgnine's Booth doesn't hold back while the gallant Forster and his more faithful compatriots, including love interest Yvette Mimieux as Dr. Kate McCrea and token youth Joseph Bottoms as the endearing Lt. Charlie Pizar, remain on cautious alert through Reinhardt’s monologue-spouting seduction.

Then, like the results of an actual Event Horizon, possibly forcing the giant ship into its inevitably sinister clutches, a sci-fi tale that neatly builds momentum winds up a standard free-for-all action fare with a soundtrack much too blaring and triumphant.

Although John Barry’s swirling opening track INTO THE HOLE is poignant and spooky, the victorious MAIN THEME, playing during the last act as our surviving heroes run throughout the ship's haul, being torn apart by flaming meteors, is simply begging for the story to end… Leading to a 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY style ambiguous finale that happens too soon, not allowing Maximillian Schell enough time as the underlined, subliminal menace wherein his best moments occur during the build-up…

But that big evil robot Max, eventually butting metal heads with V.I.N.C.E.N.T, a floating, telepathic and endearing sidekick ala R2D2, winds up stealing a movie that causes science fiction fanatics to smile while occasionally scratching their heads in euphoric disbelief.

By James M. Tate

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