The Black Cauldron - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Black Cauldron Reviews

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½ July 16, 2017
There are still those (Unfortunate) times where our beloved studios fall downward financially and critically. A lot of people would say that this is the film that did that for Disney. While I tend to think that there are worse films out there that Disney has produced (Such as Chicken Little, Home on the Range, etc.), The Black Cauldron was a big disappointment in terms of ambition. That being said, it's still a good film nonetheless. It gave me some nostalgia from the Disney films of the Golden Age (Particularly Snow White, and Sleeping Beauty). And it is one of the most visually outstanding pieces of art that Disney has produced. Is it overall a perfect film by Disney? Of course not. But it will still please fans to an extent. Though it may be too dark and frightening for younger viewers.
July 15, 2017
It definitely tried to be a big step for Disney into the realm of dark medieval epics, and it may still have aesthetic value for fans of The Lord of the Rings and even The Legend of Zelda, but the fact remains that this film has shallow, and sometimes pointless, characters and a broken, confused plot.
½ June 24, 2017
This film is a cult classic? Why, because it is "dark"? Has forgettable and useless characters with poor voice acting and a thin plot that is covered with a coat of spooky animation that a little scratch will remove and expose the flawed storytelling beneath. Its completely understandable how this is a forgotten Disney film, there is nothing here to recommend it after all, other than a villain that will no doubt scare young children but for everyone else will just be a generic baddie doing baddie things.
June 6, 2017
Its kind of hard to say if this is a good movie or not. Its dark, imaginative, and ambitious which might be the reason why it has developed a cult following. Its got multiple flaws, mostly with its main heroes, but.....I do kind of appreciate this film and I can see why its gotten a lot of respect in recent years.
May 23, 2017
This was a movie made by disney during a time when they were trying to appeal to a growing audience. Not recommended for small children but it isn't a bad movie. Even though it isn't a popular opinion it was one of my favorite Disney movies.
May 3, 2017
My favorite animated Disney movie. The Horned King was never really given much depth, though...
March 29, 2017
Even though I am now an adult, the Horned King is still one scary mo fo!
½ March 26, 2017
There are many things that work against this film. Comparing this to the book isn't even worth the time as it fails to be a faithful adaptation. The characters are very cliched and one-dimensional, and at times even annoying. The tone is very confusing as the film can't seem to decide whether or not it wants to be edgier and darker, or childlike adventurous. And by the end of it all, the film never feels as though it's accomplished any great climax or conclusion (it just stops...). However despite all that, while it is a very flawed film, I can't help but love this film. The story is still enjoyable and interesting, the mixed tone (despite its inability to chose one) is still somewhat refreshing and fun to watch, and the characters can still have entertaining moments. The film still manages to deliver a few very entertaining scenes, and combined with a fabulous animation, this is still a fun film. Just go in with lowered expectations perhaps. Do I find the critics have been harsh on this film? Yes, but that doesn't mean I can't tell that this movie does have problems (even major problems). I say see for yourself, give it a chance, and then make your decision. As for me, I love it.
March 14, 2017
Painful adaptation for anyone a fan of the rich books. Since it's a Disney animated film, it attempts a light cuteness that doesn't match the weight needed to convey the material.
December 21, 2016
Despite a cool villain, neat animation, and a darker tone, the story is bland and not action-packed enough, and the characters aren't very likable at all. Recommended for those who are especially curious about Disney animation during the 1980s.
½ November 14, 2016
One of the most infamous features in the Disney canon, "The Black Cauldron" is a gallant, adventurous, and often terrifying adaptation of The Chronicles of Prydain.
November 11, 2016
A different Disney film, but that is what makes it feel fresh. It is scary, but beautifully animated and has great characters.
August 29, 2016
I heard that The Black Cauldron wasn't a good film, but I wanted to check it out for myself. So I bought it at my local thrift store, popped it in my VCR, and...the criticisms against it are completely right. I did not like this film. But before I tear it apart, I'll briefly address the positive elements. The animation is good of course. The villain, the Horned King, is actually pretty cool. I also did like the fact that Disney was trying to do something different, something a bit darker. In fact this was the first animated feature from Disney to be rated PG. That's it for the good things. On to the negatives. First, the characters. These characters are some of the most bland characters ever put in Disney. Taran, the main character, isn't very interesting, developed, or memorable. I didn't care much about him. Princess Eilonwy is even more bland. What I don't understand is....why is she a princess anyway?. There is nothing that indicates that she is a princess except the title. Gurgi was a tad irritating, but on the bright side, I did like it when he sacrificed himself to save everyone. That old guy who tags along on the journey is completely forgettable. And all of the other side characters are forgettable as well. The only character I felt a little emotion for was Hen Wen. She's such a cute little piggy. After I watched the film, I just felt empty. In my opinion, The Black Cauldron is a waste of time. It's dull, it's bland, the characters are forgettable, the story is uninteresting, and there's no emotional intrigue. Heck, on it's opening weekend, it lost to The Care Bears Movie. The Care Bears Movie! Heck, I actually prefer watching The Care Bears Movie over this. Is it the worst Disney film? No, but I definitely think its one of the weaker ones. I know this film has a bit of a cult following and if you're part of it, that's wonderful. Go ahead and love it as much as you want. It is a bit creative and it's animated well, but there are other Disney films that are more worth my time.
August 20, 2016
The best Disney movie of all time. Very, very underrated to the bone. Still no Blu-Ray.
½ August 15, 2016
The Black Cauldron had potential to work as a dark film, but it felt lacking with both the story and characters.
½ August 14, 2016
A new team of younger animators worked on The Black Cauldron, and it just didn't stand up to the films the previous animators had made. The characters are bland and the film is too dark for little kids, who the main target audience is supposed to be for. However, the end sequence with the cauldron is impressive in its visuals, as this was the first sequence with the use of cgi in a Disney film.
August 12, 2016
Probably the most surprising film in the Disney arsenal, The Black Cauldron boasts some technical flair with an entertaining plot to match. One of those transitional films in an era where the studio was undergoing some personnel changes, the films experiments with some elements that set it apart from its predecessors. The movie was a box-office failure at the time of its release, mostly due to its frightening and dark content that earned Disney its first PG rating. But today, it's not hard to appreciate the wicked imagery they created, from the Horned King's castle illuminated by lightning to the uprising of the dead soldiers around the oozing cauldron. The animations also utilized 3D-generated animation for the first time in the Disney studio, which gave it an even more impressive look. You can tell they struggled to compact the original books into the movie; at times the plot seemed befuddled and the characters felt undeveloped. Nevertheless, the world is still enchanting and it has the makeup of a great fantasy-adventure.
½ August 8, 2016
A film with reasonable potential but very poor execution that ultimately results in an uninteresting jumbled mess.
½ August 4, 2016
Legend has it, in the mystic land of Prydain, there is once a king so cruel and so evil, that even the Gods feared him. Since no prison could hold him, he was thrown alive into a crucible of molten iron. There his demonic spirit was captured in the form of a great, Black Cauldron. For uncounted centuries, the Black Cauldron lay hidden, waiting, while evil men searched for it, knowing whoever possessed it would have the power to resurrect an army of deathless warriors... and with them, rule the world...


The Black Cauldron is well known to be a box office failure as for as Disney's concern. The only thing I have it is that I hate box office failures, it's just not good as a movie even for Disney. On the bright side it gained a cult following and it's good to see people really liking the movies that are box office bombs that gained cult followings.

My friends really loves this movie because years ago my best friend Liam Fleming heard me quoting the lines when I was in the front of the taxi.

He heard me quoting:

I shall send of your dastardly deed.
I'm Fflewddur Fflam, minstrel of minstrels! Balladeer to the grandest courts in all the land!
And I, uh, eh? Eh, well, have you forgotten? I have sung in some of the finest courts...
Well, I'm only waiting for an invitation.
Oh, shush. Why do you have to judge every word I say?
(gasps) (whispers) What's that? (screams) HHHHHEEEEEEEEEEELLLLLLLLLLLLPPPPP!!!


Me and my two friends joined in and we both have fun together. Jacob Dimmock recorded me quoting what Fflewddur fflam says. Too bad the characters are bland and forgetable even Taran who looks like Wart from The Sword in the Stone. But The Horned King is so horrifying and he's voiced by John Hurt. Nothing too bad about The Black Cauldron, it's just forgetable.
August 1, 2016
Said to be one of the darker films from the Disney filmography, The Black Cauldron sounded like an innovative animated feature.

Disney films are a kind rooted very much in a formula. They rely on cutesy characters and catchy songs as their main staple. With The Black Cauldron, the film breaks away from its generic conventions for a far more simplistic story. The story is so simplistic that hardly anything actually happens in the film. During the majority of the first half of the film, I felt like much of the time I was just watching a feature-length adaptation of the video game Dragon's Lair (1983) as it just follows a young boy's journey to the castle of the villain and his following escape. After that there is some generic conversation of mythology about the titular Black Cauldron before the heroes confront the villain and end the movie. The story is ridiculously simple in The Black Cauldron, and there is nothing to distract viewers from this. A lot of Disney films do have simple stories, but there is frequently something to disguise this for viewers. This is the area where The Black Cauldron really comes up short.
The darker ambitions of The Black Cauldron didn't live up to what I was expecting. Anything that would be considered frightening is featured sporadically throughout the story, Rather than exploring the underside of the fantasy mythology in the story, the "darker" nature of The Black Cauldron simply comes from its lack of cheesiness. The story takes itself very seriously with a distinctive absence of anything much that is lighthearted. Yet rather than taking this to the extent of its potential and embracing a more gothic nature of storytelling, all it really does is prevent the film from having any real humour. There is an intention to take the story seriously even though there is really no story there and nothing to hide this all beneath.
There is no character development either. Aside from the design of the story's villain who goes by the name of The Horned King, there are no characters in The Black Cauldron that are really all that memorable. There is a half-assed attempt to make a cutesy character out of the little furball named Gurgi, but in actuality he is just a rather annoying character who speaks in a repetitive lingo with a manner of speaking that is difficult to understand. He essentially follows a similar tone of voice to Golem from the Lord of the Rings Trilogy (2001-2003) but attempts to be cute in the process, and it just doesn't work. On top of that, the hero is seemingly one rewritten from the young male protagonist of every animated Disney movie ever; an archetype given a coat of whiteout but ultimately not offered anything distinctive. Frankly, The Black Cauldron is just another example of a film which took a loose concept from another text which turns into a story that has no relevance to its source material. And without the stereotypical Disney charms that fans have come to love, there is no narrative achievement in The Black Cauldron. The film has no story, no interesting characters and no mythology which comes with any intrigue. The voice cast hardly helps out by delivering a series of underdeveloped performances with the slight exception of John Hurt whose booming voice proves an ideal fit for the villain.
All in all, the only area of success in The Black Cauldron is its technical achievement. Luckily enough the animation is really beautiful. Given that The Black Cauldron boasted the largest budget for any animated film up until that point as well as the first animated film to feature computer-generated imagery, its no surprise that the imagery is so attractive. But what's mainly appealing about it is the actual colour palette used in the film. Rather than the stereotypically bright colours used in the more lighthearted Disney films, The Dark Cauldron plays with a creative experimentation of darker colours and shadows for its setting. The entire film has the feeling of a grand classical animation, but the fact that much of the animation depicts the images of witchcraft imagery with spells, fires and skeletons as the most memorable of the lot really gives The Black Cauldron the ability to stand out. It's a shame that the story doesn't spend too much time exploring the darker mythology of the universe because the imagery that the film procures is truly impressive in its colourful detail. The fact that The Black Cauldron mixes traditional animation with CGI presents an innovative step forward in the world of animation, and even though it is implemented it at a sporadic rate it is nevertheless creative enough to make an impression.
And as well as that, the musical score is truly marvellous. The experience proves to be a very atmospheric one at the right moments depending on how key the music is to the scene, and the work of Elmer Bernstein is consistently spectacular. The man captures an atmosphere of real fantasy adventure with a dark edge to it, and its very appropriate to the intended mood of the experience even if the narrative doesn't reach the ambitious extent of the composer. The sound editing might not necessarily be spectacular because the limited amount of actual sound effects used in The Black Cauldron comes off as feeling very slack, but during the more intense moments of the film Elmer Bernstein is present to support the film with a musical score which has been declared to be one of the best scores to ever grace an animated Disney film. For a film with no songs to it, The Black Cauldron is one which maintains a very memorable soundtrack.

The Dark Cauldron offers enough grace with its detailed animation and sweeping musical score to boast a stylish distraction for the least demanding viewers, but the unmemorable characters and lack of story combined with the absence of traditional Disney charm or ambition to explore the darker territory that it presents makes for an extremely empty experience.
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