- Movie Rating -

Explorers (1985)

| July 12, 1985

Explorers is a movie that stinks of having been much too inspired by the success of E.T. but trashed by the notion that kids can’t relate to anything they might not see on television.  It begins promisingly and then is trashed by a second act that seems like something out of a different movie.

The movie’s structure suggests that it might have been cranked out very fast but since E.T. was released three years ago, you can’t say that the filmmakers jumped on the bandwagon.  The results are a very strange mixture of the sublime and the ridiculous with the ridiculous sinking the film in the second half.

The movie features three boys of different molds, one kid Darren (Jason Presson) is a sullen loner, another named Wolfgang (River Phoenix) is a junior scientist, and the third, Ben (Ethan Hawke), is a wistful dreamer.  The movie begins when Ben wakes up from a dream and quickly draws a diagram before it leaves him.  He presents it to his buddies Wolfgang and Darren and they discover that the diagram is a map for interstellar travel.

Now, setting logic and common sense aside, let’s go with the fact that the kids go rummaging around in the local junkyard and come up with the pieces and parts that will allow them to build a ship that can travel through space.  Okay.  Let’s also reason that the ship is built out of an old Tilt-A-Whirl chair.  Alright, that’s kind of fun.

Now, up to this point, the movie is a fairly interesting story that one might find in an old children’s novel – the kind published by Yearling with print that’s as big as your fingernail.  The problem comes in the film’s second half when the kids do get into space and meet up with an alien spacecraft.  The aliens themselves look and sound like something out of a bad McDonald’s commercial.  They’re green with shimmering skins, pot bellies and prehensile eyes.  The female talks like Marilyn Monroe and the male has dialogue that is entirely made up of stuff he’s picked up from television.

Why?  Why take such an interesting idea and throw it away on such a stupid second half.  I won’t say that the movie was a masterpiece but I was caught in the story of these three starry-eyed dreamers and their wonder of what lies beyond.  Why did their discovery have to be a stand-up comedian replicating television?  I don’t understand that?  What happened?  Was there another production team that flew in to work on the second half?  What goes on here?  What a waste.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(1985) View IMDB Filed in: Sci-Fi/Fantasty