Double Feature Theme: child-centric eighties space adventure
Films: Explorers/Flight of the Navigator
Directors: Joe Dante/Randal Kleiser
Release dates: 1985/1986
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Midnight Double Feature #5: Explorers & Flight of the Navigator
I’m in the mood for some eighties science-fiction this week. When I say eighties science-fiction I don’t mean the horror shows of John Carpenter and James Cameron, I’m talking about the innocent romanticism of space seen in child-centric films such as The Last Starfighter, E.T., and Battle Beyond the Stars. For tonight’s Midnight Double Feature we are going to close the curtains and settle down to a double bill of kids heading into the stars. My choices for tonight are Joe Dante’s Explorers and Randal Kleiser’s Flight of the Navigator.
In Dante’s Explorers, which is brilliant until the crappy ending where the scriptwriters obviously ran out of ideas (or simply had no ending in mind for their ace premise), teenagers Ethan Hawke, River Phoenix and Jason Presson build a spaceship out of a fairground ride after having otherworldly visions. This part coming of age, part buddy science-fiction movie features Dante’s typically dry brand of humour and wonderful sense of adventure.
Likewise, Flight of the Navigator features another very young actor who would become a major star in adult life. In one of those roles “you didn’t know she was in” Sex and the City star Sarah Jessica Parker helps Joey Cramer escape NASA’s clutches and board a spaceship which whisks him away to safety. The gleefully uplifting ending makes Flight of the Navigator worth returning to.
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