DIRECTOR: Gary Nelson
May contain spoilers!
I want to say that the effects where good for the time. I want to say the acting was acceptable. I want to say that the screenplay was more than a mediocre sci-fi script and that Anthony Perkins was not horribly miscast in this post Star Wars Disney movie.
As the for the acting, all I can say is that it was toss-up between Roddy McDowell’s dustbin shaped R2-D2 rip-off, V.I.C.E.N.T. and Ernest Borgnine. Maximilian Schell was just incredible, incredible that he felt no need to act in any way, just go off on one for 90 minutes! But any movie which has with McDowell and Ernest Borgnine as their best actors is as doomed as ludicrously sized greenhouse shaped spaceship lingering around the titular Black Hole!
Oh hang on…
So, the action was poor, the script was mediocre and the special effects were, well functional, though the black hole looked more like Roman candle from a cheep fireworks set. This was 1979, 11 years after 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), 2 years after Star Wars (1977) and Close Encounters Of Then Third Kind (1977) and the same year as Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979). There is no excuse for the cheap look of this film, except for the fact that is easy to forget that Disney was not the successful and iconic studio that it is today.
They had hit rough times and their output was poor and this poor man’s Star Wars is living proof of that. But one thing I will say for it, beside the amusement of how bad certain elements where, especially the casting of Anthony Perkins as a dubious but essentially “good” character, yes, they cast Psycho in a Disney film and portraying him in a similar light!, and that is the pacing as well as the late John Barry’s easy to enjoy score.
The plot is simple and ends up being a chase throughout the vast spacecraft, leading to several set pieces and this is where it works. It is entertaining, corny but fun and no matter how hard you try, you cannot help rooting for the them a little. But the bizarre Heaven and Hell ending with the dead villain and his equally dispatched sidekick robot Maximilian, is typical ’70’s nonsense and totally out-of-place in such a straight forward sci-fi action romp as this. This is where the film thinks that it 2001, but trust me, it most certainly is not!