Daring, bold and oddly different..
..but that does not necessarily make it a good movie.
The Black Cauldron is one of Disney's most obscure movies, and for good reason, too. With this movie, they were aiming for both teenagers and children at the same time. Therefore, there is too much "cutesy" stuff for teenagers to fully get into it or admit to liking it, but it's far too dark and horrifying for it to be appropriate for children.
But that's a minor problem compared to the film's major issue: the writing. The writing is just plain bad. As much as the fine animation and detailed backgrounds try to save this movie face, the writing inevitably pulls it down. None of the characters gets any development and it's very hard to actually feel invested in any of 'em. It just sort of falls flat. There's scenes where you can sense that the movie wants you to be sad, or happy, but I mostly feel utter indifference. If the plot at least gave these characters more to do than walk around, create failure after failure and rely on chance, I would be less harsh. But as is, it doesn't. The characters are pinballed around and pull many an Indy Ploy
, none of them actually making sense or delivering the intended result.
That being said, I would like to add the filmmakers got the tone and stylistic feel of the movie down spot on. The world of Prydain is perfectly realized, with a touch of the hauntingly scary and a touch of wonder and magic. If only it was filled with stronger characters, or a better structured plot: it would receive my highest recommendation, and could have come out an excellent animated fantasy film.
Hopefully somewhere in the future, the Chronicles of Prydain will be adapted properly, be it through animation or live-action. The source material deserves as much, and anyone interested in such a project could take inspiration from Disney's (respectable, but ultimately lacking) attempt.