One of the many sci-fi adventures in the '80s to pop up after the success of E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, Explorers is a pretty standard genre effort. Director Joe Dante (Gremlins) makes constant references to movies and TV shows with some comedic effectiveness. For all of his evident knowledge in pop culture, he misses an opportunity for a critique of it. The story remains a fun juvenile quest, while the kids find that the alien is as much a product of media-saturation as they are. Memorable as the debut of soon-to-be teen idols River Phoenix and Ethan Hawke in stereotyped roles of geeky social misfits, Explorers was quickly overshadowed by the superior fantasy-adventure film of the same year, Steven Spielberg's The Goonies.