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Explorers (1985)


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

Critics 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.

No Top Critics Tomatometer score yet...

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


Average Rating: 3.4/5
User Ratings: 13,972



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.

Drama , Kids & Family , Science Fiction & Fantasy
Directed By:
Written By:
Eric Luke
In Theaters:
Oct 19, 2004
Paramount Studios


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Critic Reviews for Explorers

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.

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

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

Full Review… | August 26, 2013
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.

Full Review… | July 3, 2010
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

The birth of fanboy culture?

Full Review… | January 27, 2009

A terrific little kid flick

Full Review… | October 23, 2004

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.

Full Review… | May 24, 2003

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.

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!

Anthony Lawrie

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

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

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