I have always loved most of the animated movies from Walt Disney Animation Studios. Ever since I was younger, I indulged myself on Disney classics and their fun animated stories. From classic animated fairy tales to stories with a little hint of fantasy elements, I couldn't resist watching a good Disney animated film. To this day, I have seen and loved most of the animated films that came out of the studio. Though one film I didn't watch from them until recently was their infamous film from 1985, "The Black Cauldron". For those that don't know, the film is infamous for getting Disney Animation kicked out of their old headquarters, nearly getting the company shut down, not making half of its $44 million budget at the box office, and even being beaten out at the box office by "The Care Bears Movie". Although I did read about its very troubled production and even saw some scenes from it, I never watched it completely until now. After watching this film fully for the first time ever, I was left in such a shock and a bad state of mind. In fact, this film was so unpleasant and so messy that I decided to watch the studios follow up film "The Great Mouse Detective" again after the movie to wash the bad taste of it out of my mouth. This is easily one of the worst Disney animated films I have seen to date so far and that is really saying a lot.
In the kingdom of Prydain, a young pig keeper named Taran (Grant Bardsley) dreams of being a warrior and fighting the wars against the evil Horned King (John Hurt). When Taran's oracular pig named Henwen shows the future and how the dreaded Horned King wants the pig to find the dreaded Black Cauldron which can create an unstoppable army of the dead, Taran sets out on a grand adventure to help fight against the evil king. Along the way he comes across a man-beast named Gurgi (John Byner), a princess named Eilonwy (Susan Sheridan), and a self-styled bard named Fflewddur Fflam (Nigel Hawthorne) and together all four set off on a grand adventure to stop the Horned King and put an end to the dreaded Black Cauldron. That's essentially what the movie is kind of about.
This movie really is a mess. I knew going in that the film was going to be a mess due to having learned about its troubled production, but even then I didn't expect it to be this unpleasant and this messy. The film's problems in its production include not allowing the new creative staff to show off their potential, to Jeffery Katzenberg making some abrupt edits in certain scenes because he didn't like how dark and unpleasant it was. Even then, if the edits were still in this movie I don't think I would still like it. The story really is uninteresting and messy. The film sometimes jumps from scene to scene with no reason at all and doesn't exactly have a continuous flow to it. Even certain characters disappear and reappear out of nowhere. Not only that, the films source material wasn't the right material for Disney. I feel that "The Chronicles of Prydain" novels written by Lloyd Alexander could've worked had they had someone like Don Bluth directing them, but I feel they were all wrong for Disney. I wish they had adapted "The Little Broomstick" by Mary Stewart instead, it might've been a better fit for the studio. The animation is also very sloppy as well. Although the backgrounds are very nicely done and the film has some good character animation, the cel layout done for the film is incredibly sloppy. Throughout most of the film, the characters didn't fit with the backgrounds and rather looked like animation cels on top of backgrounds which really did break the illusion in a sense. Not only that, I picked up on a lot of animation errors including strange outlines around the character and even some hideous multiplane camera shots where it really looked like animation cels put on top of each other. As for the characters, none of them are really interesting. Both Taran and Gurgi are incredibly annoying with the former praising himself and whining a lot and the latter having an irritating voice, Eilonwy is a very bland character who is mainly just nice with a small tough side to her, Fflewddur Fflam is honestly forgettable, and the Horned King is a lazy excuse for a villain. For most of the film, he just sits in his throne and broods as well as occasionally strangles his minion. Also, his design felt a little more silly than threatening. If there are some praiseworthy, I will say the voice actors like John Hurt and Nigel Hawthorne tried their best with the material they were given as well as most of the animators involved with the project. Luckily, the animators and other artists involved went off to do better movies so I'll say that.
There's a reason Disney Animation isn't exactly comfortable talking about "The Black Cauldron" and having finally seen it, I can see why. The story is a mess and didn't feel right for Disney, the animation was sloppy with a poor blending of character animation and backgrounds, and the characters are extremely boring and bland. If there's anything I can say this movie did for me, is that it gave me much more respect to "The Great Mouse Detective". I already loved that film as is, but seeing how much more care and effort went into it compared to this movie is honestly shocking. So unless you're a diehard Disney fan or are legitimately curious about their animation history, I will say to skip this movie if you can. It's not exactly fun.