Last Week's: Munir's Disney Retrospective -- Animated Classic #24: The Fox and the Hound (1981)
Here's a film that has the words "wasted potential" all over it. The Black Cauldron was a movie intended for a more mature audience, as Disney felt they needed to do something for teens instead of little children, without realizing that was Walt did was entertainment for everyone and for all ages. The Disney team wanted to create a "darker movie" and Lloyd Alexander's "Prydain Chronicles" seemed like the perfect choice on paper. Unfortunately, the final product is a bloated mixture of half-baked ideas and underdeveloped characters. The story of Taran and his quest to reach the mythical Black Cauldron and save humanity before The Evil Horned King takes it and rules over the world seems like a great adventure story, but the Disney animators created a painfully slow and unfunny film that really wastes any potential of becoming something better by giving Taran the personality of a potato. Yep, Taran is one of the most bland and contradictory characters ever created for a Disney film and, as heroes go, he's one of the worst. Alongside a slate of horrible supporting characters (just look at Gurgi, one of the most annoying creatures I've ever encountered in a film) he drags the whole picture down; the film is a nearly complete disaster from beginning to end. What saves it from being a compete waste is some inspired backgrounds and The Horned King, who is a menacing villain with a great design. But, aside from that, The Black Cauldron is the main reason why this was a dark time for Disney Animation. It didn't help that Jeffrey Katzenberg, the newly appointed head of the department, demanded many cuts in the final sequences that were too "dark" for the audience. When the film premiered, audiences turned their back on this "ambitious" project and Cauldron plummeted at the box office, becoming an epic disaster and threatening the very existence of the studio. Fortunately, that wasn't quite the case and since the movie's disastrous premiere it has achieved some sort of "cult status" among some circles. But I must say that The Black Cauldron remains one of the worst and most boring pictures the famous studio have ever created. Rating: 2/5.
Next Week: Animated Classic #26 Review: The Great Mouse Detective (1986)