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Fantastic, imaginative, entertaining--halfway through.
Michael_Reed7 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).

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Classic kids' adventure, hugely underrated
theojhyman6 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.
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I liked it better than E.T.
renaldo and clara3 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!
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Fun, imaginative romp
BadWebDiver4 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.
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Amazing in childhood, and amazing still now.
stoopidmac7 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.
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The biggest letdown in movie history
pathighgate13 September 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I seriously have to wonder about this movie. It had elements of genius in it before they met the aliens. I especially liked River Phoenix's (I didn't know who he was back then, and to this day it's s surprise he played the super dork scientist) German family of scientists who had the little kid who always showed up at the breakfast table wearing Halloween masks, despite it being nowhere near Halloween. There were some odd, quirky but fantastic minds behind that movie.

So why, oh why did they wreck it? I was 10 years old when that movie was released, and even at that early age I knew something was terribly wrong. Wait, What? All this build up so we can learn that the aliens are moronic kids who are obsessed with American Earth TV? At the start, this is an intelligent, wonderful film about a group of misfit kids, drawn together by a shared dream, who pull their talents and resources together to build a spaceship because they were contacted by some advanced alien intelligence. Inherent in the film was the idea of idealistic innocence culminating in the desire to explore, to discover and to see what was out there. All addressed in a mature, even thought provoking way. A rare feat even among the excess of quality kid's movies made in '85.

And then, KABLAMO! All that is thrown away. Even at 10 years old I personally felt my intelligence insulted. You're telling me that after all this build up, the first contact with Aliens these kids have is some big goofy looking Muppet that says "Hello, I'm Mr. Ed!??!?" "It's not fair!" I thought to myself. "How do they expect me to believe that these mentally challenged alien children were able to send interstellar messages containing highly technical schematics for building an airtight force field which could be piloted in any direction, even outer space? And for what? So they could impress the kids with their stupid imitations of American television pop-culture? NO. I WILL NOT ACCEPT THIS." At least The Goonies made 1985 worthwhile.
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A decent movie about the Sci-fi adventures of three boys.
VWBusMk215 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.
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80's hollywood fantasy at best
manuelvillalta6 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!.
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Seriously flawed, but still good
squeezebox28 January 2003
Warning: Spoilers
I have a soft spot in my heart for this underrated Joe Dante pic, though I'm the first to admit it has more than a few problems.

It starts out with a great concept. An outer space-obsessed kid (Ethan Hawke) starts having weird dreams which seem to be some sort of message from aliens. He confides in his computer geek friend (River Phoenix) who happens to be working on a concentrated force field that defies gravity and can move at incredible speeds. They talk about the possibility of actually being inside one of these force fields, thus giving them the ability to fly and travel incredible distances at amazing speeds.

Meanwhile, Hawke has struck up a friendship with school bad kid Jason Presson, and lets him in on Phoenix's new technology. They figure out how to control the field and decide that they should build a vehicle in which they can all fit. They find an old amusement park ride, and customize it into a spaceship they christen the Thunder Road. After a reckless test drive, the ship is taken over by aliens who bring it to their mother ship. It's here that the movie jumps its track.

The aliens turn out to be cartoonish buffoons that communicate by quoting old TV shows, due to the fact that they've learned English by watching TV signals picked up in space. Hawke is disheartened by their incoherence, but realizes that they're so confusing because human life makes no sense to them (e.g. war, violence, Hollywood's malignation of extraterrestrials).

The kids narrowly escape the ship when the aliens' Dad (!) returns, and rips them all a new one (the alien kids stole the Dad's "car"). Hawke, Phoenix and Presson return to Earth, but land in the lake and watch sadly as their ship sinks to the bottom. For some reason, the girl Hawke likes (Amanda Peterson) has some sort of psychic link to the guys and looks on as they walk away from their doomed spaceship. The next day, they all (including Peterson) have a shared dream of signals from the aliens, thus ending the movie on a resoundingly positive note.

Overall, Explorers is immensely entertaining, but also wildly uneven. There's an overwhelming sense of child-like wonder during the first half (and again at the finale), but the scenes in the alien ship are dreadfully out of place and hinder the movie's power. The alien sequence itself is often very funny (Dante regular Robert Picardo is terrific as the "brother" alien), but does not belong in this movie. It never quite regains its footing after that, though the final dream sequence is nicely uplifting.

Another problem is a subplot about a helicopter pilot (Dick Miller) who has always dreamed of going to outer space and discovering life. The movie goes to some trouble to set this up, then proceeds to do nothing with the character, who manages to find out what the kids are up to, and simply watches as they fly away to meet the aliens.

This movie has so much going for it--terrific performances, great special effects, wonderful music by Jerry Goldsmith--that it really is a shame when it falls apart. This could have been one of the great science fiction movies of the 80's; instead it's become little more than a curiosity (the movie flopped upon its initial release), showing up on cable TV here and there.

But I urge those who insist on defending other "bombs" like 1941 and ISHTAR to give this one another chance, if only to see future indie-grunge thespians Hawke and Phoenix as geeky junior high students. B-movie fans will get a kick out of the phony sci-fi movie playing at the drive-in, complete with bad dubbing and string-propelled spaceships.
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Delightful 80's teen movie
duffy04712 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.
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Classic 80's Flick
Quicksand21 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.
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quite a movie to explore
lee_eisenberg14 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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A sweet imaginative treat
sumerjoy17 November 1998
Explorers is the story of three young misfits who come together and share a trip to outer space. The film starts out sweet and energetic, watching the three outsiders come together and the process of building their unique space-travel machine is exciting, funny and imaginative. Ethan Hawke and River Phoenix make their film debuts in this one. Hawke is wide-eyed and full of hope. Phoenix, however, plays the highly intelligent and somewhat sardonic young scientist, Wolfgang. Both are impressive performances from preteens. Once the boys finally do enter space and encounter aliens, the film's energy takes a dip. However, the ending involves a slight, ironic twist. Overall, this film is worth watching if you catch it on TV.
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Great sci-fi for the family.
Aaron137510 February 2004
I had the pleasure of seeing this movie with my parents when I was ten and I really enjoyed it. In fact, whenever I see it on now I still enjoy it. This movie is a movie the whole family can get behind. This one is not about some obnoxious little brats outsmarting their parents or some other adults at every turn ala "Home Alone", this one is about kids doing something that all kids really enjoy exploring. Though they do their exploring at a very extreme level. It starts with a series of dreams that one friend tells another and pretty soon they make the device that was seen in the dreams. It apparently makes some strange spherical airtight shield. They decide to make a ship to put the device around and they put in some air tanks so they can breath. They then take their device for a rather humorous test drive, but near the end of their first run something seems to take control of their ship...they avoid disaster and then another dream shows them how to make a device that seems to provide air. The next time they try the ship they let the force take them to a spaceship far away. In it they meet up with some aliens. The movie goes at a rather good pace and is very funny. I really enjoyed it at the theater and so did my parents at the time. A few surprises are also included as well in this one.
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Three misfit little boys make a working spacecraft from a junkyard and set off for outer space
ma-cortes8 October 2012
This adventurous space tale stars River Phoenix as Ben whose dreams become a reality when along with two friends , River Phoenix , Jason Presson , create an interplanetary spacecraft in their makeshift laboratory to travel for other worlds . Ben Crandall is a young visionary who dreams of space travel while watching late-night B Sci-Fi movies , pouring over comic books, and playing computers games in the confines of his bedroom . Meantime, at college takes place the usual student problems , Bulies versus Neds and antics for the eggheads . The big time comes when they actually succeed in making a working spacecraft and set off for other planets .

Amusing family fare about three young boys who use a contraption from their homemade laboratory undergoing several adventures and it turns out to be a crossover between Sci-Fi adventure and a teenager angst movie . This entertaining film displays emotion , sense of irony , ordinary schoolroom antics , parental troubles , puppy love , rip-roaring adventure and results to be pretty funny . Good trio formed by young stars as Ethan Hawke , River Phoenix and Presson as misfit best friends . The likable trio of suburban kids seeking alien life , they have fun as the teenage astronauts . Nicely main cast and agreeable supporting cast with Dana Ivey , James Cromwell , Mary Kay Place , Danny Nucci , Robert Picardo and Dick Miller, a secondary actor usual of Roger Corman and Joe Dante, among others. Effects are top-notch, the puppets Aliens are well brought to life, they're made by I.L. M. , George Lucas' Industrial Light Magic and magnificent make-up by expert Rob Bottin . Primitive visual effects by means of ancient computer generators .Colorful and brilliant cinematography by John Hora . Special mention to musical score by great Jerry Goldsmith .

The motion picture was well told and imaginatively realized by director Joe Dante ; displaying his characteristic surreal wit and sense of amusement . Dante's most hits took place when found himself working alongside Steven Spielberg, John Landis and Australian director George Miller for the anthology movie ¨The Twilight Zone, The Movie¨ (1983) in which Dante directed the third segment .Steven Spielberg then hired him to work as director for ¨Gremlins¨ (1984) which was another box-office success. He directed some episodes for the Sci-Fi series "Amazing Stories" before directing his next Science Fiction feature which was ¨Innerspace¨ (1987) which, whilst critically well reviewed, was another box office failure. After directing five episodes of "Eerie, Indiana", Dante returned to the big-screen with the well-received ¨Matinee¨ (1993), an affectionate period satire set in 1962 against the background of the Cold War. Dante spent the next several years working for television and directed a satire on politics with ¨The Second Civil War¨ (1997). Dante's next two films, ¨Small Soldiers¨ (1998), and ¨Looney Toons: Back in Action¨ (2004) garnered good reviews but were not commercial hits. He was recruited by Mick Garris to direct two episodes of the anthology series "Masters of Horror" (2005 and 2006): "Homecoming" a biting political satire and the first American film to deal with the Iraq War.
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80% a great movie
Wizard-814 July 1999
I remember seeing this movie as a kid. It was great from the start, and I just _drank_ the whole movie in. It kept being great great great great - until they reached the spaceship. Leonard Maltin's description of this as "a disastrous wrong turn in space" is putting this mildly. I HATED this part of a movie, even as a kid.

Probably still worth watching - that is, if you prepare yourself for a climax that really sucks!
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A great movie... until the aliens show up to ruin it
Atreyu_II6 October 2011
Warning: Spoilers
It's really a shame that such a well conceived and thought movie ends like this. The first 2/3 is great, aside some minor details. During the 2/3, it is original, fresh, imaginative, creative, clever, very enjoyable and timeless. But once the aliens show up, it goes down the drain. Literally. If only the aliens were well made and likable, but they aren't. First, the aliens are green and look absolutely grotesque. Second, they are incredibly annoying, so annoying that you'd wish to squeeze their necks.

Before that, however, the movie is generally likable. It has that unique 80's atmosphere and environment, notorious even in slighest details. The special effects are great for a family-oriented sci-fi movie. It tells the interesting story of 3 friends (Ben, Wolfgang and Darren) with different interests but a dream in common. Ben is fascinated about space and often dreams he's flying in space. Wolfgang is a scientist, therefore the intellectual of the group. Darren is more reluctant and practical, he is the type of guy who prefers to "play it safe" but he still joins his friends in their adventure. The three build a homemade spacecraft with room for three and embark on their secret adventure to space.

The 3 friends are portrayed with excellency by the young actors: Ethan Hawke, River Phoenix and Jason Presson. In fact, this was the acting debut for Ethan Hawke and River Phoenix.

River Phoenix is unfortunately long gone, but he always proved to be a gifted actor.

Ethan Hawke... it's a surprise to see him so young. He looked cute here, he had that floppy 80's hair, a childish face and still possessed the voice of an early adolescent. Today he looks very slim, awfully tired and very old for his age.

As for Jason Presson, he never had the fame of Ethan and River, but that's not to say he was any inferior to them, he wasn't. He also didn't have a career as big, but he starred in the drama "The Stone Boy" before this.

This movie is considered unfinished even by its director, Joe Dante. Apparently he had a deadline and was pressed by the studios to launch it as fast as possible and leave it as it was, not giving him enough time to finish it properly. The result of this is quite clear: that ending is a disaster.

Even Ethan Hawke didn't look happy with that ending. He tried to hide that with cheerful smiles, but I can tell that he looked sad in the aliens's part and that he was nowhere near as bright as he was until the aliens showed up. I can't blame him, that ending was a mess. Even the other 2 boys were probably disappointed with it, although they don't show that as much as Ethan.

James Cromwell has a small role as Wolfgang's father. It's a surprise to see him younger. He looked so different than in "Babe".

This film didn't do very well at the box office back in 1985 and that also upset Ethan, so much that he didn't recommend anyone at that age to act and didn't return to acting until 4 years later in "Dead Poets Society".

But, back to the other subject, I think they shouldn't press directors like that. They should let them do the movies the way they want and give them time. When pressed like that, final results can't be good. Look at "Close Encounters of the Third Kind", for instance. Steven Spielberg wasn't entirely satisfied with it and asked some more time to finish it, but they wouldn't listen to him. Later, he finished it the way he wanted - as a result, it improved considerably. Nobody is gonna die just because a movie takes a little longer to arrive. And not only nobody is gonna die, but that can very well compensate and be worth the wait.

Still, since Joe Dante was pressed of time, he could have done like Spielberg: finish the movie later as he wanted. That could have improved the movie a lot. Maybe there still exists some footage from the movie that wasn't included and could be restored and put in the movie and relaunch it in a special-edition DVD or something.

That ending is really the only I'd change. I wouldn't change much from the rest of it. It's only that ending that desperately cries to be remade. If I was involved in the movie's production, I wouldn't have allowed that ending, I would have told them to do it all again, from scratch.
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Watch Flight of the Navigator instead.
markaocon24 September 2010
I've read so many comments about this movie, and sure it does start out well and it's good to spot a young Ethan Hawke with really bad yellow teeth. The problem is the aliens are sooo unbelievably bad. The other problem is that Disney's Flight of the Navigator totally eclipses it in special effects and story. Try watching Flight of the Navigator next to Explorers and you will see what I mean. There are some good moments and for a children's film it's great to see this effort, but as I say it's totally blown out of the water, and left for dust by Flight of the Navigator.

I was never a big fan of Disney during the 80's due to Walt's right wing views. Remember the voices of all dem crows in his early movies? You couldn't get away with stuff like that now... Jah Jah Binks anyone? What was George Lucas thinking?
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God Dam it 6.6 ?
vamplad7916 November 2018
Has to be one of the most under-rated 80's film ever. Perfect 1985 vibe and story. Why on earth it has a 6.6 review at the time of my post is disgraceful. A VERY young Ethan Hawke and a VERY young River (god bless his god dam soul) Phoenix. I'm disgusted that my generation has allowed this at 6.6. Very heavily criticised for it last third but i loved it. In a world where Stranger Things and IT (2017) get a go, i highly recommend that those that haven't seen this hunt it down and see it. It is so 80's, so fun and so under appreciated - you will have a hard time finding it but it is a gem. For the love of god release this on bluray or 4k. So 3 kids get a signal and travel to it, build a starship, errr, well, a shield that protects a junk pile they build to take them to outer space. It's 80's, it's 'Classic' VHS 80's. 6.6 guys ? Come on...vote it up !
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Good-natured kid's flick
Leofwine_draca23 July 2014
I'm a big fan of Joe Dante's oeuvre, although I'm more disposed towards his adult audience films (like PIRANHA and THE HOWLING) over his out-and-out kid's flicks. Saying that, EXPLORERS is still a decent kid's movie that manages to successfully capture that magical feel of danger and exploration of the best genre films. In many ways it's similar in feel to THE GOONIES, made on a lower budget perhaps but without the cloying sentimentality that Spielberg brought to GOONIES.

There's plenty to like in EXPLORERS, not least the spirit of inventiveness and invention that allows the kids to build their own spaceship using trash and one of the most dated computers you'll see on screen (128k of memory? Wow!). Dante did well to cast Ethan Hawke and River Phoenix in the main roles, as both show off the talent that would make them successful later on in their careers. Plus there's a decent-sized cameo from Dick Miller and James Cromwell cast against type as a mad inventor.

Although I never watched this film all the way through as a kid, I remember being put off by what I saw of the rubbery aliens. Even now they disappoint, although I understand that they're included as a sort of satire of American TV and culture, but they take the film towards GREMLINS territory rather than a kid's 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY. Sadly, it's the budget deficit that prevents EXPLORERS from being a true genre classic, but you can still rely on Dante to deliver an entertaining movie for the most part.
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The Vidiot Reviews
capone6663 February 2014

Sending children into outer space is a great idea because it gets them off of Earth.

However, if the kids are as intelligent as the ones in this sci-fi movie then they can stay.

Inspired by a dream he had of a computer circuit that would enable space flight, Ben (Ethan Hawke) approaches his whiz kid pal Wolfgang (River Phoenix) to help build a replica.

Eventually, the pair creates an airtight force field capable of flight and protecting them from the harsh elements of space.

Employing another friend (Jason Presson) to construct a spacecraft, the trio treks into the unknown universe, discovering some harsh truths along the way.

An obvious product of its 1985 environment, this lesser known teenager space adventure has enough pseudo science, subversive sexuality and absurdity to deserve cult status.

What's more, since there is no night or day in space, child labour laws do not apply.

Yellow Light

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Classic Music
redbeard_nv20 August 2001
For all the other commentary, from the great acting ensemble to the sheer joy of the story, my favorite part is the music. The haunting mix of orchestra and synthesizer which is Jerry Goldsmith's trademark abounds in the eerie and the uplifting strains from the first dream to the final credits. From the adventurous thrum to the absurd march, this is one disc you'll want for your collection (Varese Sarabande-VSD-5261)
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Such a great start and such a lousy finish
travisgentry-21 May 2005
This movie starts out SO great, really nailing the fun and excitement of being a kid and wanting to build and explore with your friends. The first half of this movie is fantastic, especially when they decide to build a ship to put into the force field they've managed to create. They get bits and pieces from a junk yard to create the ship and outfit it with gear and provisions. They then do test runs like any good scientists would before they decide it's ready for a much bigger journey. It's every kid's dream, a ship that can take them anywhere they want to go. It's such a great build-up to an exciting adventure...

but once they end up taking the ship into space you might at as well turn it off. A complete shift in tone and intelligence. The final act of this movie is an enormous let down. Still the first half is great fun. Watching it again on DVD reminded me of why I loved and hated it so much as a kid.
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Good But Could Have Been One of the Greats
utgard147 December 2013
Three kids (River Phoenix, Ethan Hawke, Jason Presson) build a spaceship from designs they get in their dreams. Then they launch it into space and meet some bizarre aliens. Like many other reviewers, I have mixed feelings about Explorers. Everything up to when the kids meet the aliens is excellent. Well-written, imaginative, exciting, beautiful film that could stand on par with anything Spielberg has done. Then the aliens. What's there to say? I've read a lot of breakdowns of it where people try to explain what Dante was "trying to say" and such. But, at the end of the day, these feel like excuses for why a great movie turns into a big joke. Still, the ending is nice and ultimately it's an uplifting, fun movie. Even the alien parts are watchable. Though admittedly more watchable for me after repeated viewings than the first. Give it a shot and judge for yourself.
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