Explorers - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Explorers Reviews

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November 19, 2017
If I'd seen this movie when I was a child I probably would rated it 5 stars. The first two thirds were really charming and nostalgic that I forgive the disappointing final act....
November 4, 2017
Ethan Hawke's high pitch "girly" voice truly becomes annoying in this disjointed film. River Phoenix and the rest of the cast's performance seem right out of a high school production. This has all the making of a low budget film. Everything about this film is amateurish. However, somehow it pulls off enough interesting moments to be watchable and modestly entertaining. Quirky alien characters are laughable, but somewhat entertaining. If you liked "Goonies", you may enjoy watching this cheesy B-flick. A hidden nugget from the 80s that may make the grade for a double-feature on family movie night. The title should have incorporated the word "space" in it to provide some relevance to the subject matter. One of the cheesiest endings I have ever seen, where the actors are clearly mimicking flying while laying on a floor superimposed by green screen onto a cloudy sky.
½ September 29, 2017
loved this as a kid and the cast is great
May 2, 2017
Very strange film, though can be appreciated.
½ April 22, 2017
Really fun movie ruined by the ending. First movie for Ethan Hawke and River Phoenix. I used to watch this on cable as a kid and then shut it off the moment they reached the alien ship.
March 20, 2017
The first half of the movie was all-right as far as an 80's film centred around kids goes. But when they got on the spaceship and met those aliens it took a tremendous nose-dive into just plain awful.
½ September 30, 2016
If only the promising first act had lead to something of equal interest later on. Once they're up in space the whole the gets very dull very quick.
September 24, 2016
A mostly forgotten 80s sci-fi movie from once popular creature director Joe Dante, Explorers is a perfect example of a movie that has some truly excellent buildup but ultimately falls short with an unbelievably nonsensical ending. Like with practically every 80s film, the chemistry of Explorers' three child actors is top notch and wonderfully natural. Young Ethan Hawke shows us that he had some tremendous acting chops, even back then. The enthusiasm and love of science among the three leads is also so infectious that it'll make you want to go outside and do some exploring of your own. In his heyday, Joe Dante managed to elicit strong feelings of nostalgia, innocence, tension, and childlike wonder into practically all of his works. This unfortunately makes the finished product all the more frustrating as the final third is hampered by some truly awkward looking and poorly made special effects and some clunky storytelling. Without giving anything away, let's just say that all of the questions and ideas raised throughout the film are not given any satisfying closure and we are capped off with what feels like a scene out of a Looney Tunes cartoon (and not in a good way). The underwhelming ending combined with some pointless subplots that go nowhere make for a movie that feels unfinished and thus unsatisfying. Still, there's enough good here to at least make it worth checking out at least once.
September 12, 2016
Muito divertido como só Joe Dante sabe fazer. É legal ver RIver Phoenix e Ethan Hawke crianças com excelentes atuações.
August 31, 2016
I tend to agree with the Critic's Consensus, where it praises it for wit, effects, and charm. It was fun seeing the kids "dream" without being so sugary sweet that I wanted to turn it off, and to not have to cover the eyes of little ones, even while watching so-called "kids" movies. It charmed me. No deep messages here except for one which does, in my opinion, deserve attention. No hard sells or repeated themes to nausea here, and enough to keep you watching without pain. Some better kid acting than most offerings on the Disney channel, too. (Go little Ethan!)
August 6, 2016
When I first saw this movie years ago, I watched in total fascination! Not bad for an unfinished movie.
½ June 12, 2016
Pas franchement passionnant, mais diablement sympathique et original, Explorers est un pur film des 80s, un film d'aventures enfantines mais pas infantiles, dirigé de main de maître par un Joe Dante rôdé à ce genre d'oeuvres. C'est un plaisir de découvrir les débuts d'Ethan Hawke, entouré de River Phoenix, Jason Presson et Robert Picardo avec des effets spéciaux parfaitement désuets mais qui devaient être novateurs pour l'époque. On ne peut alors que regretter que le film s'écroule dans son troisième acte, en manquant totalement son côté fantastique. Il n'empêche qu'Explorers reste une sympathique carte postale de son époque, à l'image des Goonies.
May 5, 2016
I would love to remake this movie.
½ April 30, 2016
solid adventure film. probably would have been one of my favorite movies if i saw it as a kid.
March 20, 2016
the kids are great, and the story is not bad, but when they finally reach the spaceship, the film completely loses me. i feel like this could have been a much better film with a better script, but the casual direction made it feel sloppy and thrown together. now i didn't grow up with this film, my husband has nostalgia goggles for it, but it's only ok for me.
½ March 17, 2016
One of the things I miss most about my childhood was the way my mind could so easily wander. During the day's most banal hours, I could escape into my own head, devise fantasy scenarios in which I could escape. An avid reader of the "Harry Potter," "Spiderwick Chronicles," and "Septimus Heap" franchises, I spent my afternoons drawing otherworldly beasts on notebook paper with Ticonderogas and Crayolas and writing mini-pieces of crappy fantasy fiction during recess in the library. At eight, I even penned a story about a group of preteens who gained magical abilities through an ancient book of spells, only to be sucked into a faraway land where they were enlisted to destroy an evil sorcerer. It was sixty-four pages long, and I sent it to Scholastic for possible publishing. They said no, which upset me then but tickles me now. What audacity I had as a kid, thinking I could be a boy genius of an author.
1985's "Explorers," Joe Dante's follow-up to 1984's esteemed "Gremlins," is a cinematic embodiment of all those high-strung, imaginative jolts I had a decade ago, jolts I'm sure most of the population experienced during their youngest years. Only "Explorers" goes further than purely focusing on kiddos with wild imaginations - they live out their innermost fantasies, and the film's buoyant sense of humor and copacetic wonder are contagious, quick to turn us back into the children that we once were.
Among "Explorers's" best features is its young cast, who sidestep kid actor adorability and really and truly play their roles with the conviction of professionals twice their age. A surprise that two of them became big names? Not a bit. It stars a fourteen-year-old Ethan Hawke as Ben Crandall, a gifted middle schooler who dreams of someday visiting outer space - in love with films like "The War of the Worlds" and "The Day the Earth Stood Still," he's less concerned with becoming the next Buzz Aldrin and more so with discovering alien life and exploring distant planets. Currently, his hopes and wishes don't seem to be so far off; recurring is a dream that finds him flying above a city that resembles a circuit board, which he considers to be a sign of something greater than simple imagination.
Scribbling his visual recollections down on a piece of paper repetitively, he soon takes his findings to Wolfgang (River Phoenix), his best friend who also happens to be a scientific prodigy. As expected, Ben's drawings do mean something - Wolfgang is quickly able to concoct a microchip based on the concepts presented to him. Not long after do the boys begin working on a spaceship, whose power is mighty thanks to Wolfgang's many creations. Days pass and ideas are refined; the friends very well could be the first set of youths ever to man a mission to outer space.
"Explorers's" premise is far-fetched to say the least, but our own doubts are not much of a concern when pitted against its innovations and overall good nature. It is, as mentioned before, the cinematic representation of a child's playtime adventures becoming as real as the back of one's hand, and there's something extraordinarily endearing about that. A shame Dante, one of the great sci-fi/B-movie directors of the 1970s and '80s, was not able to present the film as he wanted; convinced it could be a summertime hit, studio heads rushed its production so harshly that they dropped it into theaters before it was completely finished.
Even then, "Explorers" is a sweet, clever, and heartily unique family movie that makes the most of its premise and makes the most of its young leads, whose talent is even more prominent knowing of where their careers would soon take them. Dante will forever be a filmmaker whose fanbase is cult at best, and "Explorers" is among the most underrated moments of his fascinating career.
January 20, 2016
Featuring the debuts of both River Phoenix and Ethan Hawke, Explorers sounded like a fun front for some young talent.

Explorers is an example of one of those films which tries to get young viewers interested in science. But the script itself is a little off in doing so. The scientific language enters the film without hesitation and viewers are given no time to adjust to expecting it, rather just getting it thrown at them. And as well as that, the screenplay is full of popular culture references which are more adult-oriented since children are likely to be too young to understand much of the humour. Some of the jokes such as when Ben Crandall exclaims "This is like 'Journey to the Center of the Earth' or something" are obvious but not funny. Many of them will just go over the heads of viewers, but I got most of them without finding a lot of amusement. There is a natural sense of energy in Explorers, but the jokes themselves manage to achieve only sporadic success.
Also, Explorers is a film all about concept but short on content. If one actually considers what happens within the story they can easily come to the realization that almost nothing actually occurs. It is merely a matter of how that nothing serves to keep viewers caught up in stylish appeal of the film.
The fun really takes off when the visual effects begin to take place and the titular characters go on an exploration of the world through a journey of flight. Explorers stops pretending that its characters matter or that there is any depth or innovation in the story and becomes focused on captrivating viewers through production values, and Joe Dante manages to shine in this area. His artistic sense in handling the production values manage to compensate for the shortcomings of the narrative for a fair amount of the time which means that the feature is fueled with the appeal of both imagery and a fitting musical score, but ultimately the insistance on fretting over a story which offers nothing outside of nostalgic value and occasional cheap laughs effectively render Explorers a rather dull experience which definetely stretches on for far longer than it needs to.
Attempts for there to be anything more within the story prove to go nowhere. For one thing it is said that the character Charlie Drake was supposed to return in the third act. Since all he does is appear briefly and foreshadow a mystery which is not explored, his lack of return leaves the story in Explorers leaves an all new level of frustration for viewers to cope with. However, the fault of this lies in the hands of studio interference which left about an hour and a half of footage and subplots on the cutting room floor. Who knows what kind of story is buried within the unused footage of Explorers, but studio interference ultimately left Explorers with a plot significantly more simple than it could have been and a rushed release. Since lacklustre box-office returns left Explorers as a failure upon its original release, there is at least some satisfaction that comes from knowing that nothing was accomplished by studio interference.
The story eventually takes off and progresses to a point where the main characters reach their destination. They go on an exploration of a science fiction set which is clearly constructed and filmed to maintain the same kind of image as the science fiction serials that dominated the market during the 1950's. The aliens themselves are designed in a similar manner, and though some contemporary viewers may not appreciate that as much as audiences actually familiar with what the film is referencing, the stylish appeal of Explorers cannot be denied. As well as serving as a fun throwback to the 1950's, the genuine 80's feel of everything merges into the equation for a fairly effective comic benefit. The sense of humour in the film and its genuine fun nature serve as a distraction for viewers which works most of time to divert their attention away from the thin nature of the premise for at least some of the time.
And I will also admit that the charms of the young cast in Explorers bring some further prominence to the experience.
River Phoenix gives it a decent effort. The actor who went on to be frequently compared to James Dean and nominated for an Academy Award is seen in a way different light than ever in Explorers, being a chubby young fellow with a bowl cut and glasses. It is a role that pins him with cheesy material and demand he flex his comedic muscles as a result, achieving mostly effective results. Occasionally you can see that the hammy nature of some of the dialogue is forcing him to churn out a character who is very far from who he actually is, and his greater talents would later prove to lie in more dramatic material than anything. Still, he manages to work the script into creating a legitimate sense of intelligence out of Wolfgang Muller while maintaining a friendly nature and a juvenile sense of adventure to match it. River Phoenix makes the material in Explorers work for him easily, proving just how much he can work his natural talents into creating making it his own.
Ethan Hawke is an interesting face in Explorers. While I couldn't forget for a second that River Phoenix was in the film, Ethan Hawke's debut performance is so far from any other notorious performance he has ever given that it is easy to forget that it is the same multiple Academy Award nominee from films such as Dead Poet's Society (1989) and Training Day (2001).
Jason Presson also tags along to deliver his own solid effort.

So despite Joe Dante's stylish direction giving Explorers an edge of 80's charm and visual appeal, Explorers is an overlong film with the pretentious shell of a story and far few laughs to sustain it all.
January 5, 2016
it pains me to write a negative review since I generally really like Joe Dante, and this got generally good reviews, but I just didn't get this movie, the attitudes/behavior of the kids was weird and often changed, Ethan Hawke's obsession with the girl is straight up creepy, a subplot with Dick Miller's character is introduced and then just abandoned, and the scenes on the alien ship just go on and drag, and I guess the final reveal was clever, but the aliens were pretty gross looking tbh, wevs it still has some funny moments, and a good premise, but just didnt deliver
½ November 16, 2015
Ethan Hawke and River Phoenix were fun to watch in this 80's family movie, but overall the film could of used a little more. The story told is of a group of friends who somehow find a floating alien object, then magically figure out a way to control it with a computer and build a ship to fly into outer space. Parts of the film are just outlandish but it is fun to watch the kids figure everything out and plan their trip. It is very corny at times and when they do encounter the aliens, things kind of took a nosedive for me. There was one scene in particular, a dancing-singing segment that was just pointless and I could barely watch it. The conclusion was decent and left some imagination in the minds of the viewer. Explorers could be fun for kids to watch but there are so many other 80's fantasy/adventure films out there that are much more entertaining then this one.
Super Reviewer
September 20, 2015
There are glimpses of what could have been, but as it is it remains a cautionary tale of what can happen when a studio interferes with production.
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