The Black Hole



Creepy robots and lukewarm ending haunt sci-fi classic.
  • Review Date: December 10, 2005
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Science Fiction
  • Release Year: 1979
  • Running Time: 97 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Crew models cooperation as the best plan for problem solving.


Shoot-outs between bots and numerous explosions, but no blood or gore. Maximilian the robot shreds a crew member with his whirly appendages, but the scene is implied and not seen.


Kate is the only female on the voyage, and the lecherous Dr. Reinhardt wants to keep her for his own.


The word "hell" is used as an explicative and as a description. Harry uses the word "damn" when he suffers a fall.

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that some scenes with robots and humanoids may be frightening for younger viewers; there are shoot-outs and explosions but no gore. Maximilian the robot is a threatening presence, and the robot "goons," as one character calls them, are sinister en masse. This is good fun for sci-fi buffs who want to see Disney's attempt at Star Wars.

Kids say

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What's the story?

The crew of the Palomino is innocently going about its mission in the year 2130, when suddenly their course is re-routed and heading toward a black hole. Even more cause for concern: when they approach an abandoned U.S. space station lost 20 years ago, they find it's still inhabited by a lone mad scientist and his robotic companions.

Is it any good?


Released in an era when robots like R2-D2 were all the rage, Disney's 1979 answer was V.I.N.CENT, a friendly, philosophical robot who plays a main role in THE BLACK HOLE. The silent, malevolent Maximilian, however, steals the show, with his ultra creepy red eye, bass-heavy sound effects and his whirling appendages that can shred sheet metal. Tweens might enjoy watching the robots engage in battle with one another.

Set as an epic science-fiction journey into the deepest corner of space, The Black Hole attempted to marry grandiose visions of life among the stars with cutting-edge effects. It succeeded in the effects department (for 1979) but the movie loses steam as it progresses to a lukewarm ending. Anthony Perkins as the malleable Alex, and Maximillian Schell as the mad genius Dr. Reinhardt score points for their intelligent portrayals of scientists. The trippy ending, however, offers a less than satisfying denouement. Sci-fi fans will want to see this film for its cult appeal, nonetheless.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about what could be frightening about the unexplainable forces in our universe. In this film, the black hole presents a hellish gaping opening to the unknown. Is this accurate? How do concepts of heaven and hell feature in the movie? Do any of the ideas match your beliefs or not?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:August 4, 1979
DVD release date:August 3, 2004
Cast:Anthony Perkins, Ernest Borgnine, Maximillian Schell
Director:Gary Nelson
Studio:Walt Disney Pictures
Genre:Science Fiction
Topics:Adventures, Space and aliens
Run time:97 minutes
MPAA rating:PG

This review of The Black Hole was written by

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Parent Written byEliza17 May 22, 2015

Psychologically disturbing for sensitive kids

Unlike Star Wars, this movie is equal parts Horror and Sci-Fi. Maximillian, the blood red murderous robot, is both violent and extremely creepy. I recommend reading reviews on a few other sites- the official Common Sense Media review underplays the violence and creepiness in my opinion. Here is a quote from another review: "... Max [the robot] has the special distinction of being the first character in a Disney movie ever to eviscerate another character on-screen when he killed Anthony Perkins's Dr. Alex Durant with those spinning food-processor blades he had instead of hands. "
What other families should know
Too much violence
Parent of a 8 year old Written byALAW August 10, 2009

Way creepier than I remember

Teamwork is the positive message, but creepy robots for sure, zombie-like crew and implied goring (no blood) by Maximillian the robot make for a dark ride into the black hole.
What other families should know
Too much violence


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