BADass SINema Unearthed - Blu-ray Review

Explorers: Collector's Edition (1985) - Blu-ray Review

Explorers (1985)

Freedom! Adventure!  Flying like Peter Pan across . . . a circuit board?!  Damn straight!  Forget about Neverland, folks!  Back when Explorers was originally made, it was the digital age that we were venturing into and, with an opening flying montage as Ethan Hawke bursts through heavy clouds in a dream that is shared by the boys at the center of this heartfelt tale of space adventure, all the feels return!  

"be prepared to get blown away once you hit play."


The excitement!  The thrill of NASA during the early ‘80s!  SPACE CAMP!  It all becomes present again. Explorers is back, my friends!  And, along with it, everything RIGHT about the 1980s. So what if there really is no third act?!  The alien stand-up routine sort of predicts our meme-obsessed culture of today!

Written by Eric Luke and directed by the one and only Joe Dante, Explorers (both Theatrical and Video Editions) finally lands on blu-ray with SPLENDID results.  This cult classic is one of my favorite films from my childhood and, as it stars Ethan Hawke, River Phoenix, and Jason Presson, it holds a very niche spot in my heart.  I am personalizing this review because I guess I wasn’t prepared for the HD results that Shout! Select has lovingly provided with their NEW transfer.  Go in and be prepared to get blown away once you hit play.

From Jerry Goldmith’s on-point score to the STILL solid visuals from ILM which feature a cool (and trippy) flyover of what looks like a large circuit board, Explorers hits all the right notes as one boy, Ben Crandall (Hawke, Reality Bites, The Purge) obsessed with cheesy ‘50s science fiction flicks, and his two friends, the science-obsessed Wolfgang Muller (Phoenix, Sneakers, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade) and the outcast Darren Woods (Presson, Saturday the 14th) pool their talents together and take to the skies in the search of intelligent life . . . somewhere out there, not back home in Davanna County.Explorers (1985)

Ahead of its time with its meme-obsessed aliens and so many easter eggs, Explorers might have been rushed by Paramount, but the film still feels fresh and worthy of its great Dick Miller cameo who, in this film, plays a police helicopter pilot who ends up championing a group of alien-obsessed kids.  It might be goofy and lacking of the Capra-esque character which previously filled the streets in Gremlins, the film Dante did previous to this one, but all of that can be overlooked once these three boys turn a tilt-a-whirl cart into a spaceship and tear through a drive-in theater screen one night. 

But it is what happens the next night that matters as they take the spaceship, now called ‘Thunder Road’ after the Bruce Springsteen song, up to the very tippy-top of the earth and wind up getting quasar-yanked by the goofy alien Wat (voiced by Robert Picardo) and his sister, Neek.  They are curious about humans and, well, you’ll see . . . or you remember what happens to the boys who are, ultimately, returned safely back home with a small gift from the aliens.

It’s the stuff dreams are made out of.  That’s the territory of Explorers, a film that might not have a solid third act but remains a classic flick for anyone who came of age during the 1980s. Co-starring the late Amanda Peterson (Can’t Buy Me Love), as the school girl Ben is crushing hardcore on, and Meshach Taylor (Mannequin) as the helicopter co-pilot, Explorers remains muddled and rushed and it will never be the movie it was intended to be, BUT what remains is a CULT CLASSIC that continues to grow its audience.

Because you don’t need a driver’s license to reach the stars!  Explorers is now on blu-ray thanks to Shout! Select.

4/5 beers

 

Explorers (1985)

Blu-ray Details

Home Video Distributor: Shout! Factory
Available on Blu-ray
- May 25, 2021
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
Subtitles
: English SDH
Audio:
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; Two-disc set
Region Encoding: Locked to Region A

The visionary dreams of three curious and adventuresome young boys become an exciting reality in Explorers, the action-fantasy from acclaimed director Joe Dante (Gremlins), who combines keen humor, warmth and fantasy with unexpected twists. In their makeshift laboratory, the boys use an amazing discovery and their ingenuity to build their own spaceship and launch themselves on a fantastic interplanetary journey. A galaxy of adventure for the whole family, Explorers stars a young River Phoenix (Stand By Me, Sneakers) and Ethan Hawke (Training Day, Reality Bites).

Video:

The NEW scan of the original film is crisp and bright, adding a lot of pop to the special effects, the tilt-a-whirl cart, and interior locations used in this space minded story. Colors absolutely pop. Locales, both at night and during the day in the town, are vibrant. The alien ship is full of depth and well-defined shadows and the costumes look great. Black levels are solid and deep. Presented in the original 1.85:1 aspect ratio, the 1080 transfer looks great.

Audio:

The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is a surprise!  There is Goldsmith’s great score and tons of atmospheric noises which come through, too.  It’s a solid mix which really adds to the film’s appeal!

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • None

Special Features:

Fans of Explorers are in for a treat with the NEW special features included with this release!

  • Includes The Home Video & Theatrical Cuts Of The Film
  • NEW "A Science Fiction Fairy Tale: The Story Of Explorers" – Featuring New Interviews With Director Joe Dante, Screenwriter Eric Luke, Star Ethan Hawke, And More! (65 min.)
  • NEW Deleted Scenes With Optional Commentary By Joe Dante
  • NEW Interviews With Cinematographer John Hora And Editor Tina Hirsch
  • Theatrical Trailer

Blu-ray Rating

  Movie 4/5 stars
  Video  4/5 stars
  Audio 4/5 stars
  Extras 4/5 stars

Composite Blu-ray Grade

4/5 stars


Film Details

Explorers (1985)

MPAA Rating: PG for some mild language and action, and a brief scene involving beer.
Runtime:
94 mins
Director
: Joe Dante
Writer:
Eric Luke
Cast:
Ethan Hawke, River Phoenix, Jason Presson
Genre
: Adventure
Tagline:
You don't need a driver's license to reach the stars.
Memorable Movie Quote: "It's asking for coordinates on x-, y- and z-axes to locate a point in space relative to its terminal. How did you dream this?"
Theatrical Distributor:
Paramount Pictures
Official Site:
Release Date:
July 12, 1985
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
May 25, 2021.
Synopsis: The visionary dreams of three curious and adventuresome young boys become an exciting reality in Explorers, the action-fantasy from acclaimed director Joe Dante (Gremlins), who combines keen humor, warmth and fantasy with unexpected twists. In their makeshift laboratory, the boys use an amazing discovery and their ingenuity to build their own spaceship and launch themselves on a fantastic interplanetary journey. A galaxy of adventure for the whole family, Explorers stars a young River Phoenix (Stand By Me, Sneakers) and Ethan Hawke (Training Day, Reality Bites)..

Art

Explorers (1985)

 

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