I had alway read that The Black Cauldron was one of the worst movies Disney has made. If you limit the comparisons to those 50 (well, 51 now) films, then yes, it is lower tier Disney. But when compared to the whole non-anime animation spectrum, then it is actually not that bad as it does have some pretty great things going for it. But the thing is, it could have been great all around, but it suffers from what I like to call Lazy-Filmmaking syndrome.
First the good things, chief among them, the story. Yes, all in all the filmmakers butchered it, but its greatness still shines through. It is Disney’s darkest story, and their only take on this type of fantasy, and I was pretty much wrapped in it. Its character, or at least some, got me emotionally invested, and some of the situation they got into are rather thrilling. Also, the animation, is actually pretty good. It still leaves plenty to be desired, but it has the best mis-en-scene since Sleeping Beauty (mind you, I’m not counting those that came after).
But everything else is just lazy. The voice performances were pretty boring. The interaction between the characters is poorly written. In fact, the only characters I cared for were Fflewddur and Gurgi. The villain could have been great, but while it is scary in the scenes he is in, his threat is not felt throughout the whole movie as it should. And this brings me to the lazy filmmaking. Like with The Rescuers and The Fox and the Hound, it seems like things just happen without any sort of anticipation. It’s just like they want to move on as fast as they can and put it out. For example (Spoiler alert!), the scene where Gurgi is going to sacrifice himself to stop the cauldron, there is not buildup to that and it is not as heartfelt a scene as we expected. It actually feels like he is committing suicide instead of being brave.
The whole movie is like this, but since the story got me so involved I actually enjoyed it.