29 March 2006

Disappearing Ink #6 - The Black Cauldron

I first saw this movie in the theatre back in 1985, and have always remembered how "cool" it was. Watching it now I can't really remember what specifically was so cool about it though. While I doubt anyone would praise this as a great movie, it certainly does have some good parts. And I suppose to a kid, plot and character development are less important than cool designs and action. The Black Cauldron was Disney's attempt at something different. Unfortunately is was a bust. Sandwiched between the forgettable The Fox and the Hound and The Great Mouse Detective, Cauldron's take of about $21 was only half of either of those other two box office disappointments.

The story begins with our hero Taran, a pig-keeper, given the task of hiding a magical pig Henwen who holds the key to finding the titular cauldron. Now this isn't your typical pot for feeding large parties, this cauldron allows its owner to command an army of the dead. Unfortunately, that is just what the evil Horned King hopes to do. Now, if I were Taran, rather than hiding the pig, I would just kill him. Thus the secret would be safe and I would have me some delicious bacon. But, Taran decides differently and begins a quest in which he meets up with (you guessed it) a princess, an old man, and a wired furry creature. He also finds a magical sword that allows him to become a pretty decent warrior. But where is the Han Solo type? Maybe he is the pig?

Since this is Disney, you can count on a happy ending. But unlike most Disney movies, there are no songs, and this is also a bit more intense than usual, scoring Disney Animated's first PG rating. Although The Black Cauldron did not meet box office expectations, it certainly isn't the embarrassment that Disney has made it out to be (at one point Disney vowed not to release this film on video). For one, the horned king is one bad dude and one cool visual. Also, the furry little Gurgi is a neat little guy,although he reminds me a lot of Glomer from the animated Punky Brewster (please tell me I'm not the only one that remembers that show). Even Rotten Tomatoes certifies this movies as fresh, but just barely with a 60% fresh rating. Still, if you haven't seen it, its worth checking out, and while it may not be your favorite, i bet you won't hate it neither. And kids will always remember that it was cool, even if they can't explain why. Overall, Cauldron scores a C+.

Check out my past reviews:
Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within
Batman: Mask of the Phantasm
Grave of the Fireflies
The Iron Giant
Kaena: The Prophecy


j said...

I always thought it was strange that they chose to make the Black Cauldron into a movie as it was the 2nd book in the series. I guess the title was pretty cool. I'm trying to remember if seeing the movie is what inspired me to read the books or not. I'm pretty sure it did.

As for the Fox and the Hound, I can believe you labelled it as forgettable. We had the children's book w/ tape version of it and I always thought it was pretty tender.

And finally, Disney seems to have given up on songs these days, so maybe the Black Cauldron was just ahead of its time.

Chip Chief said...

I never read the Prydain Chronicles, I imagine some liberties were taken in this adaptation. I think the first book is called The Book of Three. The Black Caulron is a much better title for a movie.

As for the Fox and the Hound, I never said it was a bad movie. I am sure I will review it at some point, and I really need to rewatch it before saying too much about it. I just said it is forgettable. If you were to ask people their 10 favorite Disney films, I doubt anyone would say "Fox and the Hound." If you asked people if they liked the movie, they would probably say, "oh yeah, I did like that one." And if you go to Disneyland, I doubt their are many people trying to get the fox or the sounds autographs.

j said...

Ok, I guess it is forgettable, or at least unrememberable. And it certainly didn't spawn any rides/attraction/people dressed up them things at Disneyland.

As for the Prydain Chronicles I really enjoyed them as a kid and it was one of first series I remember finishing and being sad that there weren't any more to read -- a feeling I have experienced several times since. And yes The Black Cauldron does make a better title than The Book of Three, or Taran Wanderer, or any of the other titles minus "The High King" which was the last in the series.