Newest Reviews
Whoopee Boys, The
Set, The
Cyrano de Bergerac
Death Walks in Laredo
Gemini Man
End of the Century
If Beale Street Could Talk
Raining in the Mountain
Day Shall Come, The
Race for Your Life, Charlie Brown
Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon, A
Sons of Denmark
Light of My Life
Umbrellas of Cherbourg, The
Jerky Boys, The
Chambre en Ville, Une
Mustang, The
Baie des Anges, La
Ready or Not
Seven Days in May
Hollywood Shuffle
Uncut Gems
Daniel Isn't Real
Presidio, The
Farewell, The
Challenge of the Tiger
Ad Astra
Winslow Boy, The
Pain and Glory
Judgment at Nuremberg
Rambo: Last Blood
Sansho the Bailiff
Newest Articles
Godzilla Goes to Hollywood
Demy-Wave: The Essential Jacques Demy on Blu-ray
The Makings of a Winner: Play It Cool! on Blu-ray
Sony Channel's Before They Were Famous: A Galaxy of Stars
Start Worrying and Hate the Bomb: Fail-Safe on Blu-ray
Completely Different: Monty Python's Flying Circus Series 2 on Blu-ray
Bash Street Kid: Cosh Boy on Blu-ray
Seeing is Believing: Being There on Blu-ray
Top Thirty Best (and Ten Worst) Films of the 2010s by Andrew Pragasam
Top of the Tens: The Best Films of the Decade by Graeme Clark
Terrorvision: A Ghost Story for Christmas in the 1970s
Memories Are Made of This: La Jetee and Sans Soleil on Blu-ray
Step Back in Time: The Amazing Mr. Blunden on Blu-ray
Crazy Cats and Kittens: What's New Pussycat on Blu-ray
No Place Like Home Guard: Dad's Army - The Lost Episodes on Blu-ray
A Real-Life Pixie: A Tribute to Michael J. Pollard in Four Roles
We're All In This Together: The Halfway House on Blu-ray
Please Yourselves: Frankie Howerd and The House in Nightmare Park on Blu-ray
Cleesed Off: Clockwise on Blu-ray
Sorry I Missed You: Les Demoiselles de Rochefort on Blu-ray
Silliest of the Silly: Monty Python's Flying Circus Series 1 on Blu-ray
Protest Songs: Hair on Blu-ray
Peak 80s Schwarzenegger: The Running Man and Red Heat
Rock On: That'll Be the Day and Stardust on Blu-ray
Growing Up in Public: 7-63 Up on Blu-ray
  Explorers Too Much TelevisionBuy this film here.
Year: 1985
Director: Joe Dante
Stars: Ethan Hawke, River Phoenix, Jason Presson, Amanda Peterson, Robert Picardo, Dick Miller, Leslie Rickert, James Cromwell, Dana Ivey, Taliesin Jaffe, Mary Kay Place, Bobby Fite, Brooke Bundy, John P. Navin Jr, Mary Hillstead, Meshach Taylor, Bradley Gregg
Genre: Science Fiction
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: It is the middle of the night and Ben Crandall (Ethan Hawke) has fallen asleep in his bedroom while watching a late showing of War of the Worlds on television. He has strange dreams as the TV set blares away, but could they be something more than inspired by his choice of viewing? He thinks he is receiving a message from somewhere beyond and when he wakes up he sketches the diagram he has seen in his dream, then uses his walkie talkie to contact his best friend Wolfgang (River Phoenix), a boy genius who is fascinated by science - but maybe not in the wee small hours of the morning...

Coming off the success of Gremlins the previous year, you might have thought that director Joe Dante would have been given carte blanche on his next project, but it was not to be. Explorers was never truly completed, with the studio releasing an edit of the footage Dante had shot up to the point they lost patience; not that it helped the film at the box office because it flopped. Part of the reason might have been that instead of a Spielberg sense of wonder for the finale, many felt the mood had been sabotaged by a contrary attitude towards its otherworldly entities.

There are three kids who play the title characters, with outsider Darren (Jason Presson) joining the other two when he saves Ben from a group of bullies. This trio might not be destitute, but they're having a hard time nonetheless with being incessantly picked on, parents who don't provide enough support and a general disappointment which is only leavened by the power of Ben's imagination. Oh, and Ben has an unrequited crush on Lori (Amanda Peterson), one of his classmates, as if all that wasn't enough.

The three of them represent a factor which will eventually propel them beyond the bounds of Earth, with Wolfgang the man of science, Darren the engineer, and Ben the visionary. Ben supplies the data from his dreams to Wolfgang and he proceeds to create a bubble of energy with his computer, a device he can barely control (oh, how this film loves casual destruction). They can make the bubble big enough to hold themselves, so Darren provides the parts for them to create their own junkyard spaceship that the bubble can contain. Working with the computer, they can now fly their makeshift ship, as they do on a test mission that makes it apparent that they are picking up signals from outer space.

As is often with Dante films, the plot, written by Eric Luke, owes a lot to the science fiction and pop culture of his childhood. Ben is a big fan of fifties sci-fi, but so is another character he is yet to meet, as we see in the final third. Perhaps the main sticking point with Explorers is that however inspired the conclusion is, it doesn't really solve the boys' problems; even Ben feels let down by what they find. If Dante had been offered more time to draw things to a more satisfying conclusion (it ends with on a fuzzy note of hope) the film would have appealed more, but as it is it puts across the notion that the comfort of imagination alone is no match for the big bad world of reality and all those TV shows and films Dante loves are a bad influence after all. The film may be sweet natured, but it's confused. Music by Jerry Goldsmith.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


This review has been viewed 3187 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film


Joe Dante  (1946 - )

American director of science fiction and horror, a former critic who got his big break from Roger Corman directing Hollywood Boulevard. Piranha was next, and he had big hits with The Howling and Gremlins. But his less successful films can be as interesting: Explorers didn't do as well as he had hoped, but illustrated the love of pop culture that is apparent in all his work.

Other films include flop sequel turned cult favourite Gremlins 2: The New Batch, Innerspace, the underrated The 'burbs, Matinee (a more obvious tribute to the movies of his youth), Small Soldiers, Looney Tunes: Back in Action, The Hole and Burying the Ex.

Review Comments (0)

Untitled 1

Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.

Latest Poll
Which star is the best at shouting?
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Brian Blessed
Tiffany Haddish
Steve Carell
Olivia Colman
Captain Caveman
Sylvester Stallone
Gerard Butler
Samuel L. Jackson
Bipasha Basu

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
  Butch Elliot
Andrew Pragasam
Darren Jones
  Rachel Franke
Enoch Sneed
Paul Smith
Paul Shrimpton


Last Updated: