This movie is bound to warm the hearts of most folks who (like myself) make up the tippy top of the Gen Y iceberg. It has memorable lil fuzzy Disney characters, and the villain reminds me a bit of a fellow you may recall from Castle Grayskull??
Great Stuff :)
Damian M. (ratchet) Reviewed on 3/11/2009...
What a piece of poop. Some good animation, but other so stupid. I want to see the stuff that was cut out that allegedly could have made this a PG-13 or even an R-rated Disney cartoon! There was one scene where one of the old witch's top started to come off and there was potential for boobage, but it was cut right there. Also, other cuts are evident by the jumps in the soundtrack.
1 of 6 member(s) found this review helpful.
The Lost Disney Animated Movie...
E. D. Garcia | San Francisco, CA | 06/08/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Not too many remember when this movie was released... it BOMBED in theatres. Why? For starters, no one was ready for a PG rated Disney cartoon... especially one that IS NOT a musical. I think it lasted about two weeks in the theaters, then Disney pulled it.
(Something else people might not realize is that, while a failure in theaters, The Black Cauldron was modified and ported over into TV. It became one of Disney's most successful animated TV series: The Gummy Bears. While Taran, Eilonwy, and Creeper are renamed and not the main characters, they are in there!)
Left in the Disney vaults until 1998, this now restored full-length animated feature is a gem, if not a bit rough around the edges. Without your standard "filler" material of songs and silly dancing, The Black Cauldron uses dialog, stunning animation, and action to keep it moving.
The movie is dark, foreboding, and just plain creepy. It is rated PG, and I DO NOT recommend letting your kids sit in front of this one alone!
But for all its good points, The Black Cauldron strays far from Lloyd Alexander's books, too much is left unexplained, and you never get the chance to really care for any of the characters. Compared to other Disney movies, this is a major change as we're always drawn in and quickly bond with the lead characters.
Oh, and contrary to what other reviewers have said, this was NOT Disney's first PG rated movie. That honor goes to The Black Hole (1979).
While this movie is a must for Disney collectors, the rest of us could pass it up and not miss much."
One of Disney's most enchanting (and unappriciated) classics
Jake Stitch | USA | 01/22/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Being an avid Disney video collector, I of course saw trailers for this release hitched onto other 1998 tapes, and was genuinely amazed with them alone. Needless to say I ran out to the store August 4 of that year to buy my copy of this never-before-released-on-video animated Disney flick and popped it into the VCR as soon as I got home. I honestly do not understand why so many people who have reviewed this movie have called it bad. Sure, it's different, and yes, it did recieve a PG rating, but those are not nessesarily bad things. And, yes, appearently it IS different from the book, but, putting all of that aside, it is a WONDERFUL movie, and, unlike some reviewers, I'm very glad that they let it out of the vaults.Taran, dreams of being an incridible warrior, but soon finds himself reduced to searching for Hen Wen, a young pig he tends to that has run away. This eventually leads to his embarking on a quest to find the mythical Black Cauldron, which gives the one who bears it ultumate power, before the evil Horned King. Aside from the adventurous, dark mood, the movie carries other strengths, too. First off, the characters are amazing and can be related to. I too have dreams and fears just like Taran (in fact quite simmilar in one perspective), and he is like a welcome friend to me. Gurgi is cute and funny and is this movie's classic Disney sidekick; there's one in every classic, you know. Second, there's the annimation - it's amazingly mood-setting and obviously helped the animators learn a great viriaty of skills they would use in later films. Finally, there's the film's tear-jerking (yes, I did say "tear-jerking" in regard to Disney's "The Black Cauldron," folks) ending and the timeless moral that is illustrated within it -- I won't say what it is; you have to go rent (or better yet buy) this too-often-ignored Disney gem to find that part out. To top it all off, the original 1998 release has a very cool-looking cover, supposedly "FX packaging" according to some old TV spots; the Gold reissue has a wonderful (different) logo and cover image too.All in all, I can't find a negative thing to say about it. The DVD supposedly has it in widescreen, which I'd love to see - and the Gold Collection issue (in both VHS and DVD formats) has "Trick or Treat," a classic Donald Duck short. I don't know why I don't have this on DVD yet! It's something you and I should both make a point to get. Amazing! ***** 5/5"
Not a Disney "classic", but an interesting experience.
Jonathon Turner | Highland Park, NJ USA | 04/15/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"In 1985, Disney attempted to do a PG-rated swords-and-sorcery animated tale based on a good source material--Lloyd Alexander's CHRONICLES OF PRYDAIN. The resulting movie had a lot of winning things going for it--for one, the animation was impressive for its time, showcasing an early mixture of CG effects. A massive underscore by Elmer Bernstein (which remains one of the best for a Disney movie) substitutes singing characters here. In addtion, there are at least some well-defined (and created) characters, notably the young, inexperienced "pig-boy" Taran, the terrifying Horned King (voiced superbly by John Hurt) and of course the two "comic" characters, Gurgi (a Gollum-like character with a childlike innocence and more loyalty--and an equally cuddly voice) and Creeper (a great baddie sidekick for a villain).
And yet the movie is considered Disney's greatest failure. It is understandable to see why: for one, the movie flopped at the box office (in fact, it took more than 10 years after its theatrical debut to finally arrive on home video). Second, in trying to compress the five-volume "Chronicles of Prydain" into one movie, the story comes across as a little too overplotted and frustratingly leaves questions one is likely to have about its characters (and magic rules) unanswered. The third reason is that aside from the aforementioned quartet of Taran, the Horned King, Gurgi, and Creeper, the characters aren't as well defined or memorable as they could be. In particular, Princess Eilonwy (whose bitchiness from the novels has been noticeably toned down for the film) comes across as an underdeveloped heroine--her abrupt shift from berating Taran's boasting about who got them out of trouble to a quasi-romantic love interest felt jarring to me. The same, frustratingly, feels true for many of the other characters, even if some of them (Fflewdurr Flamm, an elderly minstrel whose harpstrings happen to snap every time he lies) are actually quite likeable and/or interesting (a trio of batty witches who hold the titular object).
But even with its flaws, THE BLACK CAULDRON is by no means Disney's worst animated feature (that prestigious title belongs to HERCULES and probably HOME ON THE RANGE). True, it is problematic, but I nonetheless enjoyed the movie and applaud the animators for painting a grim, gothic fantasy setting through art. If only the plotting and characters were better developed, it would've been a classic. I would definitely recommend reading the books to get a full experience on the universe Disney was struggling to portray but by all means try out the movie as well. It has a lot of high points and there are some great animation effects (notably when an army of skeleton warriors comes alive), even though it probably isn't one of Disney's best.
A word of caution to parents: this is probably not a good film for children to watch. THE BLACK CAULDRON was clearly rated PG for a reason--not anything in the way of graphic violence or profanity, but there are lots of scenes which do come across as nightmarish, especially those involving the Horned King.
As far as the DVD release goes, it's a bit sparse on the extras, but the slide-show feature on its production origins and spin-offs warrants the purchase alone. The visual transfer is well done (aside from a few film scratches and one period of dirt filter) and it sure beats watching a pan-and-scan version. The real star of the DVD, though is the Dolby Digital 5.1 sound mix. THE BLACK CAULDRON was originally mixed for six-track Dolby Surround, and the music by Elmer Bernstein comes across as brilliant and the dialogue separation is impeccable.
So there you have it, my impressions of this flawed yet grossly undervalued entry to the Disney animation cannon. True, it's far from perfect, but as long as you don't compare it to the books (and acknowledge that it was created at a time when the studio was in something of a slump), THE BLACK CAULDRON is enjoyable and leaps and bounds above the weakest animated films ever made."
The Black Cauldron Gold Collection DVD
dvdcollector18 | USA | 11/14/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a fantastic action adventure story, that gave a much needed break to Disney's wonderful musical. Not one song is in this film, and that gives it a major benifit becuase it kept the film very serious and dark. A lot of the past reviewers have said that the animation is not very good. Aside from one scene, I strongly disagree with this. The animation is not extraordinary, but it does succeed in making the atmospheric mood a very dark one.Besides, animation is not what carries this film, it's it's characters. Starting foremost, with the Horned King, a villian that goes beyond any bad guy before him using the Cauldron's magic to resurrect his army of skeletons. This provides one of the movie's most intense and dramatic sequences. The comedic relief in this film belong to Creeper, the king's goblin creature and Gurgi, a cowardly creature who redeems himself later in the film. Both do well in making us laugh, but not going too far to avoid taking the film's dark feel. Taran is the main character, but aside from knowing that he wants to be a hero, not much is known of him.This film is greatly underappreciated, mostly becuase it was a severe economical failure. What Disney lost in $, they gained in creative expansion, beginning to be able to tackle many different subject matters for different audiences.The Gold Collection DVD, includes "Trick or Treat", a classic Donald vs his nephews cartoon."
This is GREAT animation!
dvdcollector18 | 10/03/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Of all the animated films Walt Disney Pictures has produced over the last 60+ years, "The Black Cauldron" is perhaps the least well-known. Upon initial release it was a commercial disaster, and was greeted with a cool reception by critics. That was July of 1985. It is hard to decipher, however, why the film has been Disney's "black sheep" aside from its non-performance at the turnstiles. Viewed on its own terms, it is a marvelous animated film, kept too long from its potential admirers. It is for one thing based on Lloyd Alexander's masterful pentology "The Chronicles of Prydain". Those who crave a great Arthurian legend (and in this age of Harry Potter mythology seems to be the greatest fad ever wrought upon mankind) this film should not be missed. It is admittedly not of the calibre of the books upon which it is based- the main action of the animated feature borrows sequences and characters from the stories which were never directly associated with one another- this is the film's most noteworthy fallacy. Also, it is not-repeat NOT- a musical, one of the very few Disney films driven by action instead of music. I'd be wanton to consider this a fault. Charming as Disney tunes are, there ought to be exceptions, and this is one example of an exception to the rule unfairly judged. The characters themselves are quite enjoyable- Taran is a bit bland, but Eilonwy, Gurgi, Fflewdur Fflam and Creeper are first rate animated heroes. The Horned King is voiced and depicted expertly and arouses genuine terror. This movie is quite distinct from the earlier Arthurian legend animated by Disney ("The Sword In The Stone") but it is clearly related to Disney's first television success, "The Gummi Bears" likewise set in similar times and with the same characters under different guises (Cavin IS Taran, Calla IS Eilonwy, and Toadie is most definitely Creeper!) This film will be enjoyed by many generations of children and adults- thankfully Disney has decided to make it available at last to its future audience."