The Black Hole Movie Poster Image

The Black Hole

Creepy robots and lukewarm ending haunt sci-fi classic.
  • 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.

Violence

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.

Sex

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

Language

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

Consumerism
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.

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?

QUALITY

Sci-fi fans will want to see this film for its cult appeal, trippy ending and all. 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 ending, however, offers a less than satisfying denouement.

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/Streaming 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

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

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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 Written byThe Fuzzy Dan May 31, 2016

Gothic sci-fi not afraid to take the time to set a mood

The Black Hole was one of my favorite films from childhood. While everyone else thought Star Wars was the pinnacle of science-fiction films at the time, I always went back to The Black Hole for its mysterious and chilling setting and its deliberate pacing not filled with wall-to-wall laser fights. In my opinion, this is what makes The Black Hole an enjoyable watch but may take some patience from modern children. I showed The Black Hole very recently to my two kids (7 and 9) and they both seemed to really enjoy it in the same manner I did when I was young. They were able to process the story, characters and plot easily and the violence was not beyond what they could handle. Disney wisely used no blood during the most grisly of the on-screen deaths and the reveal of the humaniod's zombie-like face did not upset either child. If there is any element of The Black Hole that should give parents any pause, it is the ending that sees the characters literally travel through Hell and Heaven as they are drawn into the black hole. My kids had many questions after seeing this and were a little bothered about the implications the ending alluded to. It would be up to the parents to decide if this is a line of discussion they wish to have with their children and when. All that said, I think The Black Hole is a good introduction to young children of science-fiction storytelling that doesn't have an action scene every ten minutes and relatively mild horror trappings and mood that more grown-up films (such as Alien) will contain.
Teen, 15 years old Written byPAYSTCHR April 22, 2016

A freaky and terrible movie!

Personally, I love reading about black holes. I think they are the most interesting thing in the universe. This film, is a terrible film, however. There is tons of violence, tons of intensity, and a plotline, that just doesn't work very well. When I saw it, I was scarred by the violence, and intensity, and people shouldn't ever see this movie. Like the scene where the bad guy falls in, and his soul is combined, and you see him burning in, well, you get the point. Tons of swearing, mature topics, It is not for younger kids. One of the most disappointing films I have ever seen.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking