Picks and Pans Review: The Black Cauldron

updated 08/05/1985 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 08/05/1985 01:00AM

From Snow White to The Fox and the Hound, the best thing about the Disney animated features has been their profound sense of heart. What film introduces love better than Bambi? This is the 25th full-length Disney cartoon, and it too is most affecting when it evokes affection among its characters. Its hero and heroine, Taran and Eilonwy, are a boy and girl, 14 or so, who are out to destroy a cauldron that contains a mysterious evil force. (Taken from Lloyd Alexander's The Chronicles of Prydain, the plot is close to the 1963 Disney film The Sword in the Stone.) En route they encounter the wicked Horned King, a furry creature called Gurgi (a cross between an Ewok and a cocker spaniel), a delightfully ruthless trio of witches and the usual gnomes and fairies. Children may feel disappointed that events get taken out of Taran's and Eilonwy's hands at the end. But the animation, computer enhanced for the first time in a Disney cartoon, is impressive. In one scene a group of shimmering fairies materializes, lighting up the screen as well as the faces in the audience. And when Gurgi realizes at last that he has been accepted as a friend, it is the best kind of Disney magic. (PG)

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