Explorers (1985) - Rotten Tomatoes

Explorers (1985)




Critic Consensus: With a terrific young cast (including Ethan Hawke and River Phoenix) and some typically energetic work from director Joe Dante, Explorers soars past its '80s kiddie flick competitors with wit, good-looking effects, and tons of charm.

Explorers Trailers & Photos

Movie Info

After seeing a series of diagrams in a recurring dream, a young boy and his two close friends build a homemade spaceship in their basement laboratory. This sci-fi adventure, which is tinged with moments of ironic comedy, follows the trio as they travel into the far reaches of outer space.more
Rating: PG
Genre: Drama, Kids & Family, Science Fiction & Fantasy
Directed By:
Written By: Eric Luke
In Theaters:
On DVD: Oct 19, 2004
Paramount Studios


Ethan Hawke
as Ben Crandall
River Phoenix
as Wolfgang Muller
Jason Presson
as Darren Woods
Amanda Peterson
as Lori Swenson
Bobby Fite
as Steve Jackson
Danny Nucci
as Nasty Kid at School
Dana Ivey
as Mrs. Muller
Taliesin Jaffe
as Ludwig Muller
James Cromwell
as Mr. Muller
Brooke Bundy
as Science Teacher
Mary Kay Place
as Mrs. Crandall
Dick Miller
as Charles Drake
Robert Picardo
as Starkiller/Wak/Fathe...
Meshach Taylor
as Gordon Miller
Mary Hillstead
as Couple at Drive-In
Bradley Gregg
as Steve Jackson's Gang
Georg Olden
as Steve Jackson's Gang
Chance Schwass
as Steve Jackson's Gang
Tricia Bartholome
as Girl in Classroom
Eric Luke
as Darren's Teacher
Karen Mayo-Chandler
as Starkiller's Girl Fr...
John P. Navin Jr.
as Couple at Drive-In
Robert F. Boyle
as Starkiller's Girl Fr...
Simone Blue
as Snack Bar Girl
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for Explorers

Critic Reviews for Explorers

All Critics (26) | Top Critics (4)

Explorers itself is bubble-thin, but it glides by gracefully on the charm of its three young heroes and their vividly envisioned adventure in space.

Full Review… | August 26, 2013
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic

It looks terrific, moves along at a gallop, and is marvellously good-natured.

Full Review… | January 26, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

Explorers,' which is lively but largely familiar until the point when it reaches its batty pinnacle, frequently shows off Mr. Dante's sense of humor to good advantage.

Full Review… | May 20, 2003
New York Times
Top Critic

Explorers remains a hopelessly schizophrenic film, obscenely eager to compromise its own originality.

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

A strange, wounded beast, filled with wonderful sequences and homemade charm, but also confused and anticlimactic.

Full Review… | January 8, 2014
The Dissolve

Their space trip may be familiar, but they make it fun.

Full Review… | August 26, 2013
People Magazine

Audience Reviews for Explorers

Ben Crandall: We come in peace.

"The adventure begins in your own back yard."

Explorers is a pretty good little sci-fi children's movie, and like most Joe Dante films; it has a feeling of nostalgia all over it. The movie has its problems, but nonetheless it was a nice little watch. Most of the problems come in the second part of the movie. The first half of the movie is great though. 

Three friends come together to try to create a spaceship after one of the boys has a crazy dream. They soon find out that the things from his dream works and that they have created a spaceship. After a test run where they take it out for a spin around town, they decide to work out the bugs and go looking for whatever it is that is relaying these ideas to them. The first half is mostly the kids figuring out how to make this thing work, and it's extremely well done. The second half is where they actually try to go into space, and this doesn't quite work as well as it needed to.

It's an interesting movie by all means, especially with young actors that would go onto do bigger and better things like Ethan Hawke and River Phoenix. Phoenix shows of his prodigy skills with a phenomenal performance, and the movie is worth a look if only for Phoenix himself. 

Explorers is one to watch when you want a movie that reminds you of being a kid. I didn't expect anything to spectacular as I've noticed that most of Dante's films are missing a key ingredient that would make them more than just slightly above average. In this one, that missing ingredient is the space sequence. The aliens were lame and overall the whole space sequence was just dull. Still, the first half and the cast more then make up for it.

Melvin White

Super Reviewer

Another classic kids flick from a time when imagination seemed to flow like a waterfall, made a year before 'Flight of the Navigator' and along the same kind of lines but much more wild with a stronger fantasy element. The direction from Dante is spot on giving this film a pure family feel which anyone can enjoy whilst the plot is simple yet also has some thought involved with the creation of the kids homemade ship and how they get it to fly.

Visuals for the time were slick and colourful with an air of mystic as allot of the action is during the night, the classic look and feel of the 80's gives this film such a charm much like many other fantasy films of the age, 'E.T.' being a good example. These days of course the effects do look dated but they still do their job and will thrill young viewers as I'm sure the wacky, zany aliens will too. Off the wall and a mix of 'Max Headroom' with 'Pee Wee Herman' and you have the fun creations in full bodysuits that are obvious yet at the same time great fun to watch (like many 'Star Wars' creatures).

Personally I always found 'Flight of the Navigator' more enjoyable than 'Explorers' as it was alittle more sensible in general and really did make me wanna travel in space as the navigator hehe. 'Explorers' was always great fun to watch as the plot builds but I was always kinda disappointed at how the aliens were handled, nice idea to make them kids but I thought they should of been more grounded to give the ending alittle more heart perhaps.

Think 'Goonies' in space ;)

Phil Hubbs

Super Reviewer

An extremely fun little movie, even it is hampered a bit by the knowledge of "what could have been." I personally would love to see Paramount do a branching version of the film on Blu-ray with all of the known versions of the film (US theatrical, UK theatrical, TV version, DVD version, VHS version), but one can only dream about that I suppose. I also wouldn't mind seeing some additional material to go with it, too.

Tim Salmons

Super Reviewer

Explorers Quotes

– Submitted by Adrian G (4 years ago)

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