Explorers Poster

Explorers (1985)

Adventure | Family  | SciFi
IMDB Rayting:   6.6/10
Country: USA
Language: English | German

A boy obsessed with 50s sci fi movies about aliens has a recurring dream about a blueprint of some kind, which he draws for his inventor friend. With the help of a third kid, they follow it and build themselves a spaceship. Now what?

Director: Joe Dante Writer:

Stars: Ethan Hawke, River Phoenix and Jason Presson

 
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User Reviews

Michael_Reed 7 June 2005

Watching Explorers as a kid, sparked all the things I loved about freedom, and adventure. I was always into space, sci-fi, computers, and aliens even at a young age, and this film does a great job geeking any kid out when it comes to science, space, and adventure. I love how one of the kids had a dream about designing a circuit board, and after creating it realizes it creates a spherical force field that has virtually no speed limit, and is impossible to slow down (blasting through an entire stack of books with ease, leaving a perfect hole).

Although, once the kids get through the testing phase of the force field, and build the ship from old carnival rides (tea-cup thingie)--the movie takes another turn. Although still fun, the writer and/or director seem to lose track of the original flare, and the movie begins to wander off into a more childish, meaningless Hollywood push-out.

Over all, the film is very entertaining. I just Netflixed it so that my girlfriend could see it, and I could reminisce. It is one of my favorite childhood movies (along side the original Neverending Story).

--MR

theojhyman 6 November 2003

All kids should watch this - between the ages of 6 and 13. I saw this when it came out on video - I was 8 - don't know how I missed it at the cinema - it couldn't have had a big release in the UK. I loved the detail and imagination within this movie - like the one dream that the three boys all share, the sphere they create from their computer, the guard dog they give bubble gum to, the amusement ride seat they turn into their spaceship, with windows made from the fronts of washing-machines and TVs. And our three heroes make a great team. They are all very different in character, yet share that same dream of escape and adventure. Ethan Hawke is the main hero - the one that most viewers will relate to - the average 80's kid hooked on television, daydreaming during school lessons and a huge crush on the girl next door. River Phoenix is his nerdy computer-whiz friend with an Einstein-like crazy father (played by James Cromwell) and Jason Presson is the mature, yet weird kid with a troubled home-life. The magic of this movie is in its innocence and the dreams that the kids are able to turn into reality. The first half is pure 80's kids' adventure movie. The second half becomes pure "Dante", as it dives into 50's-style B-movie sci-fi - exactly what Dante is referencing and sending up, yet paying homage to at the same time. What our heroes find out in space is certainly not what they expect or what we expect. They feel let down by their discovery and in some way, we do too. But there are so many great scenes in this film - the chemistry between the 3 main actors is great - they really bond well together and we get drawn into the film because of Dante's attention to detail in these characters. It's a funny combination of child adventure and B-movie sci-fi but kids will love it, and as you grow up, you learn to see (like many great kids' films) many new details that pass you by as a kid but keep you entertained all over again from a different perspective. A highly overlooked 80's adventure movie, almost as good as The Goonies, but far less commercial, due to Dante's unique approach. Go and see it now, or see it again or watch it with your kids - you will all love it.

renaldo and clara 3 September 2002

This film really has nothing to do with E.T...people seem to think it was a 'reaction' to it...I say that maybe it made a wonderful film gem like this, a sci-fi for and starring kids, possible.

Funny and inspiring. Probably the first film I ever saw with both of these qualities. I was 6 when it came out, and though it stars 3 boys, the tomboy in me came out...even as an adult (I watched it recently again) I become awed by the scenes of the boys constructing the 'scapeship'. The writer and Dante were good about packing in little extra details, like the "talking" mouse, Wolfgang's strange family, the kids using walkie-talkies, the dog who chews gum, the drive-in movie, Ben writing a will, one of the kids living in a trailer, etc. Without being hokey, these tidbits add more depth and charm to a story that could've been called a Mickey Mouse approach to E.T. These kids are older than Elliott and smarter and the film doesn't go for tearjerking scenes; EVER. Some of the direction reminds me of Spielberg, **however... instead of this film being a kid's approach to space-travel, it's a space-travel approach to a kid's film.

Then there are the aliens. Well, we feel the way the kids do about them; disappointed. But that is the point. What would you expect to see? It is kind of like the mataphorical satire of the grass being greener on the other side.

I tried not to get too emotional when reading the viewer comments on this film. I do not consider myself a Yank-I like to use the term American-but being 1st generation -born here, I still consider myself part-European, and the fact that the film did better in Europe than in the States, and from what I hear- Joe Dante's apology for the film- makes me sad. This film started my fascination toward the unknown and the general sciences. I happen to be one "Yank" who really enjoyed this movie!

BadWebDiver 4 May 2002

This is a fun little story about a group of kids who are inspired by alien transmissions to build a spaceship from old junk parts. It features some of the early performances by Ethan Hawke and River Phoenix, back when they were young and enthusiastic performers. I'm actually totally green with envy at River Phoenix's role; it's the sort I always imagined playing as a kid.

The climax is very similar to a classic Star Trek episode called 'The Squire of Gothos', and the effects and showmanship of this story is very cool. A great piece of entertainment.

VWBusMk2 15 July 1999

This Sci-fi adventure movie has a strikingly similar plot and theme to a movie which came out the same year, The Goonies. But Explorers lacks The Goonies popularity. Explorers is about a group of three misfit boys who build a homemade spaceship and travel into space. Although very far-fetched, the movie does bring out the sense of childhood adventure. This can best be seen when the main character (Played by Ethan Hawk) tries to persuade his two friends to explore the unknown. Sci-fi buffs should be sure to take note of the various scenes in which footage from the 1953 Science Fiction Classic, the War Of The Worlds, is shown. I think anyone who loves The Goonies will like this movie.

stoopidmac 7 January 2003

wow. i love this film. i saw it when i was pretty young and absolutely loved it, as i do much of Dante's flicks from this time - The Burbs, Gremlins, InnerSpace - and i still love it to this very day. in fact, i understand the ending a little better now. i remember the ending being quite disappointing in some senses - the aliens just dont live up to the majesty that proceeds them - but this is exactly how the main character played by Ethan Hawke feels. So in some senses this could be seen as truly amazing film-making. But maybe i am being a little silly through my love of the film, which also i must add, has one of the best themes. A theme which only arrives half way through the film, when their craft is almost finished in its building. I love this film, but i can understand that some people may not enjoy it or even find it to be that good a film. I of course dont agree with this in any way - and less than 6/10? Outrageous. it deserves at least 7 anyway. But nevertheless, people have their opinions, and in mine i shall give it 8.5/10.

manuelvillalta 6 April 2001

i watched this movie yesterday because i'm a good fan of Joe Dante and i had not seen this flick yet, and i loved it. it projects the same feelings that E.T. and The Goonies gave me, that's one thing i love about 80's movies they use to have new and exciting stories of materials used or nor used before with a unique style, the kids were wonderful in the movie and special effects very good for the time it was made, i love how River Phoenix refers to Poltergeist when he imitates the little girl by saying.."They're Here"...just rent it and you'll see for yourself what i mean when i say 80's hollywood fantasy at best!.

duffy047 12 June 2007

The idea of watching this movie came after seeing "Stand By Me" and learning more about River Phoenix' accomplishments.

Being born in the 80's myself and interested in the teen/adventure movies like "Stand By Me" and "The Goonies", I learned about "Explorers" which also featured the late River Phoenix. So last night I eventually got to watch "Explorers".

The movies introduces the three main characters very well; each having their own background with their own unique capabilities. Wolfgang Müller (River Phoenix) is the intelligent creator of complex things, Ben Crandall (Ethan Hawke) is the dreamer but his intelligence is not to be underestimated and Darren Woods (Jason Presson) is a normal, but a bit lonely, kid who happened to stumble into Ben's life and sees the opportunity to 'escape' from or rather to forget his problems at home for a while.

As the movie continues, the plot evolves very well. The switching between excitement and adventure leaves the watcher wanting for more. Up until 20 minutes or so before the end I thought the movie was 'perfect'.

The part following in which the aliens are introduced did not contribute much. I think this is mainly because the movie ended right after that part. If the writers had wrote a better ending, giving a meaning to the whole scene of meeting the aliens, then I think the movie would have lasted for about 10-15 more minutes.

But then again, the movie is about 3 teenagers having their dreams come true and not so much about meeting aliens.

For me it was the first time I saw Ethan Hawke play as young as that age (15). He was fairly easy to recognize and despite his age he did a very good performance. The same goes for Jason Presson and the late River Phoenix, who was barely recognizable. His character was something totally different than he would play in future films.

Also barely recognizable was Robert Picardo as Wak, Wak's Father and Starkiller. Knowing him mostly from his role in "Star Trek: Voyager" (bald) and (his voice) from "Totall Recall" I had difficulties actually recognizing him.

To conclude: "Explorers" is a delightful, heartwarming teen/adventure film about 3 teenagers having their dreams come true. All of the 3 main actors, and all supporting actors, did a superb job. I think this movie is highly underrated and that not many people know it exists.

I hope to see more films like this in the future. But nowadays, teen/adventure movies are either complete nonsense or Disney movies for children. Oh well, I think times just have changed... a lot.

My score is 7 out of 10 for great acting, a good story but a bit of a let down ending.

Quicksand 21 August 2005

A great movie, the sci-fi Goonies, if you will. Maybe it's because "Explorers" only sports three main characters, and "The Goonies" has seven (plus Sloth) ... but I'd hold this movie up with that one any day.

The humor comes from strange places, and truly lands in bizarro world during the last act, but it captured my imagination seamlessly when I first saw it at the age of eleven. I'm older now, so maybe it's just nostalgia, but if you're into the whole 1980's retro thing, this belongs in your collection with the rest of the Disney-ish buddy movies. Clever idea, and one of the last good movies Joe Dante made. Having a cast like that, though, sure doesn't hurt.

lee_eisenberg 14 July 2005

The '80s yielded a number of movies about kids going on adventures, but "Explorers" was something else. On the surface, it seems like any other movie, but the aliens aren't what anyone is expecting. Mostly, the movie is about Ben Crandall (Ethan Hawke), Wolfgang Muller (River Phoenix) and Darren Woods (Jason Presson), and their fantasies.

And then there are director Joe Dante's touches. Dick Miller - whom Dante always casts - plays a cop who discovers the boys' spaceship. Robert Picardo (another frequent Dante player) voices one of the aliens. And of course Dante has many allusions to '50s B-movies. Maybe "Explorers" isn't anything special, but it's still pretty fascinating.

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