Though Steven Spielberg's name is nowhere to be found in EXPLORERS, all the familiar Spielbergian motifs of smart children, lovable space aliens, 1950s television shows, and topnotch special effects are firmly in place, propping up a shallow and creatively bankrupt film. The story opens
with a computerized animation sequence, which, it turns out, is the dream of modern-age child Ethan Hawke. He quickly wakes up, then sketches out some of his dream's hardware. Using a walkie-talkie, Hawke contacts his sleeping pal River Phoenix, giving him the details. Phoenix, a pint-sized
computer genius, suspects this dream is yet another in a series of mysterious signals from unknown beings. Using the symbols from Hawke's dreams, as well as his sophisticated computer setup, Phoenix creates a perfect sphere of light for a power source for their own spaceship, which takes them for
an encounter with the mysterious source of Hawke's dream signals. Industrial Light & Magic, George Lucas' special effects company, is responsible for the visual extravaganzas in this orgy of special effects, and as usual, its work is superb. The alien costumes are clever and show some real
imagination in their design. Yet the filmmakers have forgotten a key element. Without an interesting story or characters, special effects aren't enough to sustain a feature film.
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