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Explorers (1985)



Average Rating: 6/10
Reviews Counted: 26
Fresh: 20 | Rotten: 6

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.

No Score Yet...

Average Rating: N/A
Critic Reviews: 4
Fresh: 3 | Rotten: 1

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.



liked it
Average Rating: 3.4/5
User Ratings: 13,960

My Rating

Movie Info

Explorers turns out to be much ado about nothing, but it's so sublimely assembled we're willing to overlook the sappy climax. Young sci-fi geek Ben Crandall (Ethan Hawke) (could he possibly be based on director Joe Dante?) would give anything to travel in space. Thanks to his computer-happy pal Wolfgang Muller (River Phoenix), Ben gets his wish, together with best bud Darren Woods (Jason Presson). In the Great Beyond, the boys encounter an extraterrestrial (Robert Picardo), whose knowledge of


Drama, Kids & Family, Science Fiction & Fantasy

Eric Luke

Oct 19, 2004

Paramount Studios

Watch It Now


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Paramount Planning an Explorers Remake
Sending kids back into space.


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All Critics (26) | Top Critics (4) | Fresh (20) | Rotten (6) | DVD (11)

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.

August 26, 2013 Full Review Source: Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

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

January 26, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop 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.

May 20, 2003 Full Review Source: New York Times
New York Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

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

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

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

January 8, 2014 Full Review Source: The Dissolve
The Dissolve

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

August 26, 2013 Full Review Source: People Magazine
People Magazine

Without an interesting story or characters, special effects aren't enough to sustain a feature film.

August 26, 2013 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

The offbeat teen comedy gets off to a good start, but when it takes off in space the spoof becomes too alien to be anything more nourishing than junk food for the soul.

July 3, 2010 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

The birth of fanboy culture?

January 27, 2009 Full Review Source: LarsenOnFilm

A terrific little kid flick

October 23, 2004 Full Review Source:

The one that started it all! Started what? No idea!

January 21, 2004
New Times

A family feature on Acid. What a strange, strange film.

October 8, 2003
Juicy Cerebellum

An enjoyable, quintessentially 1980s science-fiction adventure, full of wit and crafty pop culture references.

May 24, 2003 Full Review Source: Film4

After so much build-up, the ending's a bit of a letdown, but as a kids flick, this is way above average.

May 7, 2003
New Times

Hardly out of this world, but a pleasing spinkle of space dust

September 17, 2002

A fun-time nostalgic trip into outer space.

July 25, 2002

The movie's pleasures are obvious and considerable.

March 7, 2002
New Times

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.
June 15, 2013
Melvin White

Super Reviewer

An 80's kids classic that seems to have totally passed me by. Was this even released in the UK? Released in the summer of 85, it had some pretty tough competition. It starts so well, it has all the ingredients of a classic kids 80's film until it gets to the end and then it gets spectacularly bad. Reading up on the history of the project, it seems the producers got tired of it or scared and rushed it out without it being finished - which could be blamed for it being awful but it's still no excuse for those aliens. It's the only film I can think of where I loved the first half and absolutely hated the second. It's Bizarre. Maybe forgivable if I'd seen it as a child but in 1985 there where some pretty good films out, so I still think it wouldn't have been a favourite of mine then. Producers eh!
February 20, 2012

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 ;)
June 28, 2011

Super Reviewer

    1. Ben Crandall: If this is all a dream, what's gonna happen when we wake up?
    2. Wolfgang Muller: I don't know, but I can't wait to find out.
    – Submitted by Adrian G (2 years ago)
View all quotes (1)

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