Let’s go back in time a bit for movie #26 in the Disney Animated Marathon!
Story By: Ted Berman, Vance Gerry, Joe Hale, David Jonas, Roy Morita, Richard Rich, Art Stevens, Al Wilson & Peter Young
Directed By: Ted Berman & Richard Rich
Roger Ebert says that The Black Cauldron is a quest film, and I agree. Where I differ from Mr. Ebert is that the quest didn’t engage me on the same level as it did him. In his well written, like usual, review he raved about the characters and how they drew him into the story. I wish I could say the same, but truth to be told I know that come a month or so from now I won’t be able to tell you a single thing about any of the characters in The Black Cauldron. This is the very definition of a fun film with no lasting impact, and that sucks because it is the type of film I wish would have a lasting impact on me and everyone else who watches it.
Don’t let the opening paragraph fool you, I did have fun with The Black Cauldron. It is a fun little jaunt full of the sword and sorcery adventures that I am a big fan of. The Black Cauldron flies by, it certainly doesn’t waste any of its time getting to where it wants to and while not full of much depth the Horned King is a groovy looking villain. The animation is also in that interesting place of trying to hearken back to Disney classics of old while looking to the future. It isn’t as spectacular as the animation that is to come, but you can see how the groundwork is being laid for the next era of Disney animation that is about to start.
Okay, halt the presses, my girlfriend just told me that Gurgi was adorable, and yes, he was in fact adorable. The more I think about it, the more I realize that Gurgi is a character that will stay with me and I was shortchanging his character in my opening paragraph. He did remind me a lot of Gollum from Peter Jackson’s The Lord Of The Rings films, so much so that it struck me at one point that maybe Jackson took some of Gollum’s funnier traits from Gurgi. Maybe not, but it is a thought that crossed into my mind.
Speaking of references to other films, that is something I couldn’t quite shake from The Black Cauldron. The underwater faerie type creatures were too derivative of the dwarfs from Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs. Other parts of the film reminded me of The Sword In The Stone, and still others appeared to be homages to films like The Adventures Of Robin Hood. Homages and callbacks to previous films are not always a bad thing, but they did stick out a bit too much for my liking in The Black Cauldron.
Fun, but forgettable, well maybe not Gurgi, is what you get with The Black Cauldron. It certainly isn’t the pinnacle of Disney animation, but it’s still a fun film to watch that will keep you satisfied enough as it rolls along. I know a certain little lady was hoping I would love it, but I only ended up liking it. Still, your mileage may vary, I am after all a man who quite often holds some wacky film views. Either way, love it or like it, The Black Cauldron is a fun movie, one that is worth checking out and then forgetting about a month later.