Explorers (1985)

Director: Joe Dante
Writer: Eric Luke
Cast: Ethan Hawke, River PhoenixJason Presson, Amanda PetersonJames CromwellDana Ivey, Robert Picardo, Dick Miller
Part of: /slash Filmfestival

Ben (Ethan Hawke) dreams of a circuit board. He makes a drawing and gives it to his technologically well-versed friend Wolfgang (River Phoenix). They are joined by Darren (Jason Presson) and discover that Ben actually dreamt up a spaceship which they immediately start building, of course, and then even flying.

I never saw Explorers when I was a child (I wonder why? I saw so many Dante movies…) and I did feel that I was missing a certain nostalgic point of connection to really enjoy it. But it was a supercute adventure film with a sweet cast and I would watch it again.


Explorers shows that kind of adventurous childhood that I never had as a child but often wished I did. My adventures mostly happened in books. Anyway, I thought that this movie nicely captures that feeling of friendship and curiosity that the boys share and I wouldn’t be surprised if many kids start building spaceships after seeing this film. But since I saw it as an adult for the first time, I felt like I was completely missing that level of enjoyment, but that it was an essential level on which to enjoy it.

I did have fun. And the cast was really great – all three boys were really good (Joe Dante was there after the film and told us that Ethan Hawke actually didn’t want to audition but just came to support a friend. I wonder if that friendship survived him being cast…). And James Cromewell and Dana Ivey, as short as their appearances were, were great. [The Müller family was generally made of win.]


Towards the end though, when the kids [SPOILER] actually meet the aliens [/SPOILER] thinks get a little too absurd, too over-the-top and whacky for my taste. And I also didn’t care for the love story with Ben and Lori (Amanda Peterson) – it smacked too much of her being a reward for him for me to really cheer for them. [Which might also be due to the fact that according to Dante, they were forced to cut the editing process short and release the film early, which was a bit notable sometimes and maybe with a couple of nuances different, it would have changed those undertones.]

What I really wanted more of, though, was the amazing Starkiller. I laughed so much I cried during that segment.


Summarizing: Sweet.

1 thought on “Explorers (1985)

  1. Pingback: Aux yeux des vivants [Among the Living] (2014) | kalafudra's Stuff

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