1 The Mickey Mindset: Disney Animation Reviews #25 - The Black Cauldron

Monday, April 28, 2014

Disney Animation Reviews #25 - The Black Cauldron

Disney Movie Review: 25/53 - The Black Cauldron

Ryan Dosier - Word of warning, The Black Cauldron (1985) is the only Disney animated feature I completely despise. It is the weakest film of the Disney canon by far and easily the most forgettable. It is no wonder that it is hidden away and one of the few Disney animated features that has little to no representation in the Disney family.

Before I start my harsh rant on the film, I will mention its one redeeming quality: the background layouts. There are some really striking and beautiful layouts in the film, especially in the Horned King’s castle. It’s a pity that the animation in front of the backgrounds is so poor and the story so dull.

The film’s animation is shockingly weak for Disney standards. The beautiful standards of Disney films prior to this are lost in The Black Cauldron. The film was notoriously over-budget, and the animation clearly suffered because of it. The lifelike realism of previous Disney characters is gone on the forgettable, uninteresting Black Cauldron characters.

These characters are so forgettable, in fact, that I cannot remember any of their names. The names are so complicated and most of them sound like mumbles. These characters are so weak, so humorless, and so lame throughout the entire film. Nothing about any of them is appealing or interesting. They have no quirks, no sense of humor, and no bravery... By far the worst of the Disney protagonists is Taran, the main character, who is not heroic, just lucky.

The only somewhat memorable character in the film is Gurgi. The little furry weirdo is slightly entertaining from time to time. He notably sacrifices his life for the other characters at the climax, but this moment is not earned by any means. We have no reason to care for Gurgi since he is just a constant annoyance. He has a few funny moments, but Gurgi is just as weak as the other characters.

The Black Cauldron's story is ridiculously dense, complicated, and confusing. The first act (a term I use very loosely) is jam-packed with a magic pig, a horned king, evil minions, dragons, and Gurgi. Everything is rushed and nothing is given time for exposition. Characters fly in and out of this film for no reason. The whole thing is exceptionally dark—and not in a good way. It is violent, scary, and just depressing. There is no humor, no heart, and no Disney magic in The Black Cauldron.

The film tries to be action-packed and exciting, but it never succeeds. For every striking sword fight, there is an overly long scene of sitting and talking with no humor and forced character development that does not work. The Black Cauldron is riddled with crappy dialogue, a comatose story, and characters that have no purpose, no drive, and no reason to be cared about.

None of the story points are earned in this film because none of the characters are sympathetic. We are given no reason to care for any of them; they just exist (barely). Even the villain, the Horned King, is nothing but a scary design. He is just evil without the enjoyable character traits of the good Disney villains.

I cannot stand The Black Cauldron. Disney tried, I suppose, but they failed miserably with this mess of a film. It is far and away my least favorite Disney animated feature. It lacks everything that makes Disney animation great and it holds no entertainment value. I can’t even come up with a handful of redeeming qualities for the film. I would be happy to just forget The Black Cauldron completely.

.5/5 Oracle Pigs


  1. Out of curiousty, Ryan, I was wonder if you played the old graphic text adventure game based on the film by Sierra-Online (which also did one based on "The Dark Crystal") and what you though of that?

    1. Hi Nic! Thanks for the question. I never played the game, unfortunately. I attempt to stay away from all-things Black Cauldron so I've honestly never even heard of it.

  2. In Defense of "The Black Cauldron": I do think this movie gets a lot of slack and really it did do its job even if its quite different in some ways from the books they're based on. Gurgi, Eilowyny (the most underrated princess in any Disney movie) and the witches are spot on and, while it doesn't go into the warlord concepts that the book series has due to the combining of two books, it did its job even if the Horned King is the source of most of the problems. While the animation really isn't up to the level of the Renaissance, there are sparks here that will carry on to the next couple movies before "The Little Mermaid" becomes the breakthrough. It took me forever to finally get my hands on seeing this movie but I don't really regret it honestly and definitely do like it even if its a flawed classic.