Time for another Disney post. Even though I was taking a bit of a post break to clear my head and allow me to cope a bit better with the job insecurity, there are few things better than a Disney animated movie to help with getting out of a funk. Well, maybe not this one.
For anyone who knows a bit about animated movies, The Black Cauldron is fairly infamous. In a period where Disney had a streak of okay to mediocre films, this almost made them consider closing down their animated features department. Not only was it critically maligned at the time (with no real retrospective love coming its way), but it was also a massive commercial loss.
Here’s the thing though. Despite the poor execution, it’s incredibly clear to see what Disney was trying to do. Their current tactics were no longer working, so they decided to change it up. The Black Cauldron was the first Disney animated feature to receive a PG rating, something that came about as they were trying to make a film that would appeal to a slightly older demographic whilst still remaining broadly family friendly.
Also, The Black Cauldron was their first feature to use CGI effects. This would go a long way to explain how this was the most expensive film the Disney animation department ever produced, and how deeply it was felt that they didn’t even made half of their $44 million budget back on initial release.
The overall question is, however, does The Black Cauldron actually deserve it’s reputation? Yes. Yes it does. It’s to Disney what Tales from Earthsea is for Studio Ghibli. It’s dull, somehow overlong at 80 minutes and the voice-acting of the lead just is not up to scratch. It’s almost as bad as the multiple Warts in The Sword in the Stone, but at least then that film has the flimsy excuse of having to swap out voice actors.
Storywise it’s a mess, but it also shows the continued improvement that was being made to the art style – something that will continue with the next film in the canon. Really not too much more to say about this – I’m just looking forward to The Great Mouse Detective as a bit of a palate cleanser.