Monday, September 16, 2019

The Black Hole (1979)

2001: A Space Odyssey was a great movie about a ship sent to check on another ship.  The Black Hole isn’t that movie.  It’s not even the knockoff written by some nobody with a $50 budget.  It’s more like the foreign version where someone got a few pages of the script, the actors adlibbed the rest and the whole thing was mistranslated back into English.  Honestly, I have no idea if it was supposed to be this bad or if several key crewmembers walked out before shooting began.  And the amazing thing is that this was distributed by Disney.

The story begins with The Palomino returning to Earth after a long mission when they find the Cygnus near a black hole, hence the title.  The Cygnus appears to not be moving, so the Palomino moves in to investigate.  As they approach, the crew discuses how the Palomino was ordered back to Earth, but the order was disregarded.  For all they know, the Palomino’s crew is dead.

When they board, they find only one survivor:  Dr. Reinhardt.  He has some sort of gravitational shielding that allows him to be so close to a singularity without being crushed.  Reinhardt has spent the intervening two decades perfecting  his equations so that he can take the entire ship through the black hole.  Why?  To see what’s on the other side, of course.

Reinhardt is just about ready, but not quite.  He needs just enough time to allow the crew of the Cygnus to walk around the huge ship and make some horrifying discoveries.  Like, they have to get off the ship as soon as possible.  Reinhardt has gone crazy over the years.

The captain, first officer, doctor and robot run back to the ship only to have the one guy onboard launch without them.  No matter.  Reinhardt destroys the ship, so it kind of works out.  There is a probe ship they can use, but they have to run all the way across the huge ship to get to it.  Unfortunately, the ship programmed to go through the black hole.  I say unfortunately not because the ship is crushed.  I say unfortunately because it’s not crushed.  We’re treated to a montage of images not unlike the final scenes of 2001, except that we have some idea of what’s going on, but not really.

I suspect that the science advisor was the first to walk out.  Whoever wrote the script had no idea how a black hole actually works.  All three ships should have had some ill effects, such as stress on the hull and warping of time and space.  Even with the shielding, the probe ship should have been crushed.  There’s no way anyone should have made it through.

I’m actually surprised that a major studio had anything to do with this.  You might think that it’s a horrible or silly idea that was made workable.  This was a workable movie that was made horrible and silly.  Maybe, with the right people behind it, it could have worked.  In fact, I do recall some movies with a similar plot that seemed better.

I have to wonder if this movie was rushed to production.  I noticed a change in image quality depending on whether or not there’s a window in the background.  Granted, this could be because the movie has been remastered.  However, it doesn’t bode well that the effects are cheesy all around.  I’d say that the movie disregards science or quality standards, but the truth is that it disregards anything that might make a movie good.

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