Newest Reviews
Nest, The
Martin Eden
Halloween Kills
Sun Shines Bright, The
Last Thing Mary Saw, The
Mon Oncle d'Amerique
Wild Strawberries
Runner, The
Don't Look Up
Ghostbusters: Afterlife
Forever Purge, The
Venom: Let There Be Carnage
Legend of La Llorona, The
Perdita Durango
Commando, The
Woodlands Dark and Days Bewitched: A History of Folk Horror
Boiling Point
Deadly Games
Voyeurs, The
Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes
In the Earth
Hiroshima Mon Amour
Hotel Poseidon
No Time to Die
Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey
Power of the Dog, The
Voyage of Time: An IMAX Documentary
Newest Articles
Super Sammo: Warriors Two and The Prodigal Son on Blu-ray
Sex vs Violence: In the Realm of the Senses on Blu-ray
What's So Funny About Brit Horror? Vampira and Bloodbath at the House of Death on Arrow
Keeping the Beatles Alive: Get Back
The Punk Rock Movie: Out of the Blue on Blu-ray
Yeah, Too Quiet: The Great Silence on Blu-ray
Vestron Double Bill: Dementia 13 and The Wraith
Farewell Dean Stockwell: His Years of Weirdness
Kung Fu Craft: Cinematic Vengeance! on Blu-ray
999 Letsbe Avenue: Gideon's Way on Blu-ray
Hungary for Cartoons: Hungarian Animations on MUBI
You Have No Choice: Invasion of the Body Snatchers on Blu-ray
You Can't Tame What's Meant to Be Wild: The Howling on Blu-ray
Commendably Brief: Short Sharp Shocks Vol. 2 on Blu-ray
Super Silents: Early Universal Vol. 2 on Blu-ray
Fable Fear: The Singing Ringing Tree on Blu-ray
Gunsight Eyes: The Sabata Trilogy on Blu-ray
Bloody Bastard Baby: The Monster/I Don't Want to Be Born on Blu-ray
Night of the Animated Dead: Director Jason Axinn Interview
The ParaPod: A Very British Ghost Hunt - Interview with Director/Star Ian Boldsworth
On the Right Track: Best of British Transport Films Vol. 2
The Guns of Nutty Joan: Johnny Guitar on Blu-ray
Intercourse Between Two Worlds: Twin Peaks Fire Walk with Me/The Missing Pieces on Blu-ray
Enjoy the Silents: Early Universal Vol. 1 on Blu-ray
Masterful: The Servant on Blu-ray
  Explorers Too Much Television
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 FictionBuy from Amazon
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 3934 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 probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Andrew Pragasam
Darren Jones
Jason Cook
Enoch Sneed
  Desbris M
  Paul Tuersley
  Chris Garbutt


Last Updated: