The Black Cauldron - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Black Cauldron Reviews

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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.
½ July 30, 2016
A very bad movie, but the animation is good...
½ June 19, 2016
Not quite on par with my favorites, but certainly in the right vein for my tastes. The Black Cauldron suffers from some underdeveloped characters and the question of how much the cut 12 minutes of footage could have helped the film. Outside of that there are plenty of creepy visuals and memorable moments to make it worth a watch.
June 7, 2016
One of the best Disney films I've ever seen and I highly recommend it
½ May 25, 2016
Dark and mysterious, The Black Cauldron ruins itself with an incoherent story, and bland characters
½ May 6, 2016
Not perfect but still worth watching.
April 19, 2016
There are some good visuals, but the story is just a big fat rip off of 'Lord of the Rings' and, overall, the animation isn't that great.
March 25, 2016
Lo único que se puede decir de ella es lo "poco recordada" que es, algo inexplicable, es realmente buena y de lo mejor de Disney - que es bastante que decir- y si, poco recordada, pero los que la conocemos, no sólo la recordamos sino la apreciamos y admiramos mucho. Very good!
March 4, 2016
Slower and darker than most Disney animated movies, The Black Cauldron is known as Disney's biggest financial failure. It wasn't as bad as some of the other Disney movies, but it was kind of forgettable. The characters weren't appealing, the dark atmosphere may be scary for young kids, and the story was pretty generic. I found some of the voices kind of annoying too. However, I do respect it for its innovative animation. It's forgettable and somewhat boring but not awful.
½ March 3, 2016
The Black Cauldron is inherently flawed in its weaker characterization and some plot shortcomings, but the film is so incredibly dark and mature with such a menacing villain, striking imagery, powerful score, ambitious storytelling and many memorable scenes that it deserves respect as it is the darkest and most different of any Disney movies. It is a flawed, but solid film that is one of the most underrated animated films in my opinion.
February 2, 2016
Say a classic song: don't forget to remember... YOU!!! in my memory, with a yes, and perfect score.
½ January 31, 2016
Not my favourite doesn't seem to know what it wants to be...dark and sinister or light and fluffy. Hasn't stood the test of time unfortunately.
½ January 24, 2016
½ January 16, 2016
It was dark, mystical, and stylistic, but lacking. It would have been a success if it wasn't as thin or forgettable. The protagonists sucked and so did the voice acting. Sorry Disney, you failed. 5.5/10
January 9, 2016
Dark and mature, this is one of Disney's Greatest Movies.
Damn you critics, haters, and book purists.
December 13, 2015
Defiantly and underrated Disney film, now I'm not saying this is a masterpiece or one of the greatest animated but I still really like the film. I grew up watching this film and loved it as a child and now that I'm older. Now although the film has some problems it's still a good film that I have always enjoyed.
November 4, 2015
Quite dark for a Disney film, but decent too. Edges towards a Lord Of The Rings mood.
½ November 4, 2015
Definitely one of the worst Walt Disney animated films ever created. It was basic and gave me a sense of deja vu, this is not a Disney classic because it lacks creativity and there aren't any memorable songs.
½ October 18, 2015
Terrified me as a child, still terrifies me as an adult!
October 17, 2015
There's a pretty good reason why this is one of Disney's least talked about animated features - it's mostly terrible.
The list of things flat out wrong with this flick are numerous but among the biggest complaints I had were shoddy animation work, characters and plot lines that serve little purpose to the story, and an abundance of plot holes.
Two stars though for the scene in which the old man/frog gets lost in the witch's cleavage.
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