In the wake of Steven Spielberg's wildly successful E.T., there was a cottage industry in 80s genre films, pairing young boys with aliens. In the worst instances, they were simple rip-offs, like the French/Spanish Los neuvos extraterrestres (known to MST3K fans as Pod People) or the lamentable Mac & Me; at best, they were flawed but lovable sense-of-wonder stories like Explorers.
After the similarly successful Gremlins, Joe Dante chose to make this tale of three high schoolers who find themselves receiving the plans for a homemade spaceship in their dreams. The gathering together of the components against all odds (and common sense) form the major, most entertaining part of the movie - sadly, it's after the kids blast off that the picture starts running into trouble. As in another movie of this kind, Flight of the Navigator, the build-up of the first two acts is undercut by the "zany" nature of the third act. It is simply more fun to be mystified and intrigued than to have the mystery solved in a manner far less grandiose - or satisfying - than one had hoped, or expected.
The video transfer is very nice (it's good to finally be able to see this movie in the correct aspect ratio at home!). There are some spots where the edge enhancement is noticible, but nothing to wreck your appreciation. Paramount also did a nice job on the 5.1 soundtrack remix.
And how about these new clamshell cases with the two additional tabs that hold the case shut? Did you, like me, almost break the damn thing before noticing the tabs?
Tales of studio interference have always hung heavily around the reputation of Explorers, but this isn't the edition that's going to answer any questions we might have. For extras, we have two "additional scenes", which, if I'm not mistaken, were in the theatrical version but not the original video release (this was a very long time ago, you understand). I'm unsure since Explorers has been through a lot of revisions.
But that's it. No commentary, no featurettes, not even a trailer. The price is certainly affordable... but I'm afraid we're going to have to wait for Dante to have another box office smash before movies like this get the truly special editions they deserve.
Dr. Freex, 1/6/2005