The Black Hole (1979) was Disney's $20 million reply to Star Wars. In the 22nd century, the Earth exploration ship stumbles across the giant Cygnus, an Earth vessel missing and presumed destroyed for 20 years. The Cygnus orbits the massive black hole that gives the movie its title.
Not as bad as I remember. You can tell how out of touch 1979 Disney was, though, by the fact that the movie mostly emulates two 1950's sci-fi epics, their own 20,000 Leagues under the Sea and Forbidden Planet, rather than, you know, Star Wars. Except for the cute robots voiced by Roddy McDowell and Slim Pickens. Their big eyes and squat shape makes them look like South Park's Eric Cartman. How's that for a distraction?
Well, and the final 10 minutes turn into a weird Christian allegory version of the trippy visuals sequence at the end of 2001. So to emulate the success of Star Wars, the people at Disney cobbled together a movie from two 1950's sci-fi epics and a Stanley Kubrick movie. This helps to explain why people in the film industry thought Disney had become increasingly out-of-touch with its audience since Walt died in the mid-1960's.
Nonetheless, the visual effects are very good. And the score by John Barry is so good that I realized I'd been humming portions of it for 39 years without remembering the source.
But the best thing is that Ernest Borgnine plays a shifty reporter. Why an expedition of four people and an annoying robot also needs Ernest Borgnine along... your guess is as good as mine.
Maximilian Schell chews the scenery as Professor Morbius... um, Captain Nemo... um, Dr. Reinhart! Anthony Perkins is suitably squirmy as an easily dazzled scientist. Robert Forster as the Captain of the Palamino and Yvette Mimieux and Joseph Bottoms as the other crew members... well, they showed up and they got paid. There's not a lot for them to do. Lightly recommended.