Here it is, folks - our first movie critique of 2011, and our blog's new format. Please give us some feedback and tell us what you think! I'll dispense with further commentary. Rave on, Ravers!
The Black Hole (1979): Directed by Gary Nelson. Starring: Anthony Perkins, Maxmillian Schell, Ernest Borgnine, Robert Forrester, Yvette Mimieux, Roddy McDowell and Slim Pickens (both uncredited).
The Skinny: On the return leg of a deep-space mission in the year 2130, a group of scientists discover a long-missing vessel somehow maintaining orbit around the biggest goddamn black hole anyone has ever seen. As they investigate further, they are pulled into the machinations of a madman who has converted his entire crew into robots, and has plans to fly his decrepit-ass ship into the black hole.
The Real Deal: This movie was made in 1979, at a time when outer space was never more popular thanks to a silly little flick we like to call "Star Wars." Eager to capitalize on the trend, the Disney Company (what?! Disney wants more money? Surely you jest!) tucked in and made their first-ever film to feature both bad language and evisceration. Granted, the "bad language" was "damn" and "hell" and the evisceration was about as bloody as a wart removal, but hey! Progress! With a $20 million budget, it was also the most expensive project the studio that brought you "Herbie the Love Bug" and its various permutations had ever produced at the time (a righteous gamble, since it brought back $36 million, which when adjusted from 1979 dollars equals a fucking bucketload).
There's a lot to dissect about this film - and by dissect, I mean rip it to bloody shreds, cover said shreds in gasoline, and dance around the flames guzzling Everclear - but I'll leave a lot of that shit alone so's I can jump right to the meat of my criticism, which may just forever emasculate me and seal my fate as a dickless, geeky wonder.
Now, I'm not an ubernerd by any means of the word - and that's not to imply that there aren't a dozen boxes of comics and a shelf full of Spawn toys in the next room (because there are). No, I mean that I am usually not the guy who usually says things like, "In reality there's be no fireball when the Death Star explodes because there is no oxygen in the vacuum of space to fuel it." In fact, I'd usually kick that fucker's ass right out of the theater and into the street to be struck by the first bread truck that comes along. But in this movie, there is just one ridiculously obvious mistake that just about anyone should be capable of pointing out. And that is, you cannot fly into a black fucking hole. You can possibly orbit the hole's event horizon, which is the space surrounding the event that is basically a mathematical barrier between the pull of gravity and the "point of no return." But if you actually fly into the damn thing, science tells us you will be stretched into nothingness for an eternity. Your agony will never to cease as time itself becomes trapped within its irresistable pull. Kind of like when you get caught up in looking at tranny porn online for six hours. No, I ain't linking to that reference - look it up yourself, you pervs.
No, any asshole who has stumbled drunkenly across 30 goddamn seconds of "Deep Space Nine" at three o'clock in the morning after gorging on Four Loko all night could tell you that what they actually found was an unstable wormhole. When the ships enter the hole, they both emerge at different locations instead of being crushed or, as I previously mentioned, stretched into neurons for all time. As far as their final destinations are concerned, all I can say is ... WTF. At the end of this wretched mess of physics, when the ships both fly into the center of the swirling vortex, the bad guy merges with his evil robot and we see them lording over a seething, flaming pit of hell (complete with the tortured souls), while the good guys sail down a long-assed crystal cathedral to emerge somewhere in regular space and approaching a planet. There's also a semi-psychedelic episode of spinning faces and echoing voices but Christ, let's not get into that now. Let's just say that the writers knew about as much about rudimentary astro-physics as the native peoples of New Guinea, and leave it at that.
Is it Worth my Time: For a movie with some pretty cool looking effects (it was nominated for an Academy Award in that category) and some reasonably big-name - if not a little past-their-time - actors, it just fails to impact on any emotional level. It has that whole mise-en-sense feel, like it's technically the next (or in this case, final) episode of some shitty sci-fi series. That worked fine for "Star Wars," thanks to George Lucas' incredible script that gave us characters who were both instantly likable and mysterious at the same time. It also tries to capitalize on the lovable robot trend, but these garbage cans with jet packs cannot match the inherent cuteness of another, more popular garbage can with legs. And at NINETY EIGHT MINUTES, this fucker has the pacing of a state funeral, I expected to see that it was over two hours when I checked Wikipedia. Nope - ninety-eight minutes. That makes the movie itself a Black Hole, where time itself cannot escape and our agony is eternal. What was that tranny porn link again?
Best Scene Ever: The final moments, with the swirling and echoing and the craziness. And even though it's head-scratchingly annoying, the scene where Schell and his evil robot Max merge and stand on top of a mountain observing their own personal hell is pretty cool looking.
Quotable Stuff: "It's about time people learned about their failures and my successes!" Dr. Hans Reinhardt.