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Explorers (1985)

A boy obsessed with 50s sci-fi movies about aliens has a recurring dream about a blueprint of some kind, which he draws for his inventor friend. With the help of a third kid, they follow it and build themselves a spaceship. Now what?


Joe Dante


Eric Luke
3,390 ( 976)

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1 win & 5 nominations. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Ethan Hawke ... Ben Crandall
River Phoenix ... Wolfgang Müller
Jason Presson ... Darren Woods
Bradley Gregg ... Steve Jackson's Gang
Georg Olden Georg Olden ... Steve Jackson's Gang
Chance Schwass Chance Schwass ... Steve Jackson's Gang
Amanda Peterson ... Lori Swenson
Danny Nucci ... Nasty Kid at School
Dana Ivey ... Mrs. Müller
Taliesin Jaffe ... Ludwig Müller
James Cromwell ... Mr. Müller
Brooke Bundy ... Science Teacher
Tricia Bartholome Tricia Bartholome ... Girl in Classroom
Eric Luke ... Darren's Teacher
Robert Picardo ... Starkiller / Wak / Wak and Neek's Father


Ben Crandall, an alien-obsessed kid, dreams one night of a circuit board. Drawing out the circuit, he and his friends Wolfgang and Darren set it up, and discover they have been given the basis for a starship. Setting off in the ThunderRoad, as they name their ship, they find the aliens Ben hopes they would find... but are they what they seem? Written by Liz Jordan <c9310494@alinga.newcastle.edu.au>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

alien | boy | spaceship | teenager | dog | See All (27) »


The adventure begins in your own back yard. See more »

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG for some mild language and action, and a brief scene involving beer | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »





English | German

Release Date:

12 July 1985 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Istraživači See more »


Box Office


$25,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$3,607,340, 14 July 1985

Gross USA:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Paramount Pictures See more »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

70 mm 6-Track (70 mm prints)| Dolby (35 mm prints)


Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


During the children's flight over the circuit board at the end of the film, some of the camera angles and moves are meant to mimic the flight to Neverland from Disney's Peter Pan (1953). See more »


When Ben and Darren walk over to Wolfgang's house, Ben is wearing brown corduroy pants. Then when they go down to the basement, he's wearing blue jeans for a few shots. And then he's back to wearing his brown corduroys for the rest of the scene. See more »


[last lines in the film]
Ben Crandall: If this is all a dream, what's gonna happen when we wake up?
Wolfgang Müller: I don't know, but I can't wait to find out.
See more »


References Forbidden Planet (1956) See more »


All Around the World
by Robert 'Bumps' Blackwell (as R. Blackwell) and Monica Millet (as M. Millet)
Performed by Little Richard
Courtesy of Speciality Records, Inc.
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Delightful 80's teen movie
12 June 2007 | by duffy047See all my reviews

The idea of watching this movie came after seeing "Stand By Me" and learning more about River Phoenix' accomplishments.

Being born in the 80's myself and interested in the teen/adventure movies like "Stand By Me" and "The Goonies", I learned about "Explorers" which also featured the late River Phoenix. So last night I eventually got to watch "Explorers".

The movies introduces the three main characters very well; each having their own background with their own unique capabilities. Wolfgang Müller (River Phoenix) is the intelligent creator of complex things, Ben Crandall (Ethan Hawke) is the dreamer but his intelligence is not to be underestimated and Darren Woods (Jason Presson) is a normal, but a bit lonely, kid who happened to stumble into Ben's life and sees the opportunity to 'escape' from or rather to forget his problems at home for a while.

As the movie continues, the plot evolves very well. The switching between excitement and adventure leaves the watcher wanting for more. Up until 20 minutes or so before the end I thought the movie was 'perfect'.

The part following in which the aliens are introduced did not contribute much. I think this is mainly because the movie ended right after that part. If the writers had wrote a better ending, giving a meaning to the whole scene of meeting the aliens, then I think the movie would have lasted for about 10-15 more minutes.

But then again, the movie is about 3 teenagers having their dreams come true and not so much about meeting aliens.

For me it was the first time I saw Ethan Hawke play as young as that age (15). He was fairly easy to recognize and despite his age he did a very good performance. The same goes for Jason Presson and the late River Phoenix, who was barely recognizable. His character was something totally different than he would play in future films.

Also barely recognizable was Robert Picardo as Wak, Wak's Father and Starkiller. Knowing him mostly from his role in "Star Trek: Voyager" (bald) and (his voice) from "Totall Recall" I had difficulties actually recognizing him.

To conclude: "Explorers" is a delightful, heartwarming teen/adventure film about 3 teenagers having their dreams come true. All of the 3 main actors, and all supporting actors, did a superb job. I think this movie is highly underrated and that not many people know it exists.

I hope to see more films like this in the future. But nowadays, teen/adventure movies are either complete nonsense or Disney movies for children. Oh well, I think times just have changed... a lot.

My score is 7 out of 10 for great acting, a good story but a bit of a let down ending.

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