Sci-fi fan Ben (Hawke) has a dream in which he sees a giant circuit board, so along with pal and young wannabe scientist Wolfgang (Phoenix) he miraculously builds a sphere of energy that can travel through space (it seems aliens have sent the blueprints telepathically). Teaming up with loner Darren (Jason Presson), they’re soon zapping around above their town, until the aforementioned aliens whisk them up into space for a meeting.
Directed by B-movie fan Joe Dante (who often alludes to the kitsch fifties films he loves, in movies like Gremlins and his segment of Twilight Zone: The Movie), this was a flop at the box office, perhaps because it was quite quirky (the aliens have learnt everything about earth from TV, so greet the kids by saying ‘What’s up, Doc?’) and never lives up to the fun of the first hour (before the kids are on the ship). Nonetheless, it’s his most kiddie-friendly film (no scares here) and while kids can identify with the boys’ dreams of space travel, grown-ups can catch fifteen-year-old Hawke in his first screen performance.
Is Explorers suitable for kids? Here are our parents’ notes...