Hey Guys! Gerawallstar here, and I am here to review the forgotten Disney film of all time. And that is the 25th Walt Disney film, The Black Cauldron, which was released in 1985. This film was one of the films that almost killed Disney animation company at the time, and here are a few reasons why: critics hated the film, it bombed hard at the box office, and while it was the most expensive Walt Disney film at the time, it was a commercial failure. To make matters worse: it did so bad that even The Care Bears movie beated this film in the box office. That was when you know Disney was in BIG trouble at the time. The result of all of this led to this film not being released until 1998 on home video. In my opinion, while this film is not the worst film, that a lot of people claimed it to be, it does have a lot of problems.
This film came out during the dark ages of Disney. The era after Walt Disney’s death. This was at the time when Walt Disney Company was not doing very well, with them producing bad to mediocre critical/financial films such as The Aristocats, Robin Hood, to average successes such as The Rescuers, and The Fox and the Hound. However, because of the success of both The Rescuers, and The Fox and the Hound, Disney wanted to return back to its glory days, by making a more darker, and mature film that was catered towards teenagers. And they did so by making The Black Cauldron, which was the first PG rated Disney film, the first film to be released widescreen since Sleeping Beauty, and the first film to have CGI.
The Black Cauldron was in production in 1973, when they finally obtained the rights to Lloyd Alexander’s novels. The new generation of workers were working on this film, since all of the nine old men, have officially retired from the company. They wanted to return back to the glory days of Snow White, so they went along with producing this novel into their movie. Because there was a lot of characters, and storylines in the book, they were working and producing the film throughout the 1970’s, and they wanted to release this film in 1980. However, because of the advancement of animating the human characters, just as Ron Miller stated, the release date was pushed back to 1984. This all came downhill from here afterwards. What was going on throughout the early 80s was that the movie had multiple delays, because the animators had their animation strike in 1982, Roy E Disney left CEO, and was replaced by Michael Eisner as CEO, along with Jeffery Katzenberg as the head of the Walt Disney flicks. When screening was finally released, it didn’t do so well with the audiences, because it was too scary for children, resulting parents leaving the theaters. Because of this, Eisner immediately wanted 12 minutes of the film, edited out when it was finally done in production, to make it less scary, and more friendly. This caused to delay the movie even more from December 1984 to July 1985.
The story is about an evil Honrned King who creates a magical Cauldron that will help him to rule the world, and it is up to Taran, Princess Eilonwy, Gurgi, and Fflwwedur Flan to stop him. The story of this film is a pretty mixed bag. My biggest problem of the story is the execution. You have way too many scenes coming at you all at once. This is a character driven movie, and the biggest problem is that these characters have nothing interesting to have in store for this film. We’ll get to the characters later. But in the story, you have scenes where the characters go to a big castle, they meet some fairies that you will never get to see after that, there are three witches that they encounter to give some advice, there are some moments where the characters argue at each other. Not a pretty image coming from Disney. Am I right? You have an action scene where someone has to sacrifice him or herself by getting into the cauldron, and then there’s an ending where a character gives up his sword to rescue a friend. See? That’s what’s makes the story uninteresting. There are a lot of moments where not only the story could have bad execution, but predictable moments, too. The only good thing I can say about the story is the action scene with Taran and the Horned King, and the sacrifice, as well. Oh, and the ending was kind of stupid, and pointless, as well.
This movie definitely has its flaws with the writing, but the animation however is really good. This was made by a new generation of animators at the time, after the nine old men retired from Disney. I liked that with the setting taking place in the medieval times, the designs, and the environment looks pretty creative. The characters, like the Horned King, and the fairies look pretty decent as well. The effects look stunning as well. Fun fact: This was the first Disney film to have CGI aspects, since most of the animation was designed on computers. There is some CGI moments with Hegwig the pig running, the cauldrons/objects moving around, and there are some orbs that are computer generated as well. The only problems that I have with the animation are the human characters still look stiffy, and the backgrounds are kind of dull.
Oh boy. Here we go with the characters. I really do not enjoy the characters in this movie at all. The characters are either bland, or pointless. Lets start with the protagonist: Taran is a teenager that dreams to be a Heroic Knight. The problem I have with this character is that not only he is very unlikeable, but he is also the one that caused a lot of problems in the main story in the first place. He irresponsibly loses his pet pig while he is supposed to take care of it, and he acts like he is the hero just because he had a sword, while in reality, the sword was the one that did all of the work. He is also very whiny. He barely did anything in the film!, but that’s in the end of the film. Princess Ellionwy is supposed to be the Princess of the movie. My problem with her is that she is very, very boring. The movie doesn’t even give her anything Princessy, like a castle, or a dress, or anything like that. Gurgi, who is the comic relief, is the most annoying characters I have ever seen in an Disney film. He is not funny, nor he is enjoyable. His voice is so annoying. Fflwwedur is another bland comic relief that breaks his harp, whenever he says something. That’s not just the main characters, but this also applies to the main villain. While the Horned King is very cool design wise, he unfortunately doesn’t do anything in the film, except laze around in his throne throughout the movie. He only gets involved in the film, in the end. Despite all of the problems I have with the characters, the voice actors are the saving grace of the film. John Hurt did a terrific Job voicing the Horned King. I even liked Gurgi’s sacrifice in the end, even though I dislike his character. I also liked one decent thing that Taran did in the end of the movie. And what he did was to sacrifice his sword for his friend Gurgi
I can see why this movie bombed, and almost killed Disney. The Black Cauldron is an average Disney film that while has great animation, but sadly has a lot of problems with the plot, and characters. The film did succeed with the darker tones in the film. And despite the film losing a lot of money, it gave Disney the opportunity to make another film that would help them save the company from Bankruptcy, and that film was The Great Mouse Detective.