THE BLACK HOLE -- AMC Academy 6, Jefferson, K-B Cinema 7, Landover, Springfield Cinema, Uptown, White Flint.
There is nothing mysterious about the future: Science-ficton films have an amazing unanimity about it, in contrast to historians, who keep arguing about the past.
Colorless, unisex, jumpsuited people; robots contrastingly loaded with personality; and the blinking lights of spaceship panels against a black landscape dotted by tiny twinkles are what we can expect to see. What we can expect to hear is a lot of gibberish about "ultimate knowledge" and the values of humanity vs. those of technology.
So anyone who sees more than one example of this begins to get interested in the smallest variation to details, as one does when hearing another performance of Beethoven's Ninth or seeing another production of Swan Lake.
The newest future film is Walt Disney's "The Black Hole," and its variations from the previous such movies are minute.
Stylistically, it has a few moments, such as the sudden turning on of lights in a huge lost spaceship, as if Fifth Avenue had reappeared after a blackout. It's interesting that the captain chooses, for his private quaters, a traditional look complete with crystal chandelier. Robots are programmed different accents -- one American robot sounding British and the other Texan.
Philosophically, the film purports to stand for human values, but makes it obvious that "human" is defined as a kind of cuddliness that a robot can have to an overwhelming degree, while a human being, especially one with a German accent, can be devoid of it. The major character conflict is between a lovable robot that looks like a beach toy and an unlovable one that looks like a walking Swiss army knife.
For all the supposed commitment to space exploration, there is actually a heavy bias against "science," except when it's defined to include extrasensory perception. The evil mad scientist is the villain, and any approach to the unknown is regarded as blasphemous. The Black Hole itself is intended to represent Heaven and Hell, and is better left alone, although a good person inadvertently summoned to it will find his reward, while a bad one deliberately seeking it will get his comeuppance.
But, then, the future itself is evidently not a place any sensible person would rush to visit.