It’s not easy being in a science-fiction movie.
Galactic space battles, terrifying alien invasions or even time-travel shenanigans leave characters in grave danger 24/7. Heck even the tagline for Ridley Scott’s Alien was "In space no one can hear you scream."
As a result, when you sit down to watch some sci-fi, seeing someone get killed is just par for the course. From classics like Metropolis and 2001: A Space Odyssey, to modern greats like Guardians Of The Galaxy and Arrival, death is almost a certainty.
Now we say almost because, believe it or not, there are actually a handful of science fiction flicks where no one kicks the bucket. That’s right. Every character, from the leads to the extras in the background, survives from the opening logos to the closing credits.
Proof then, that a happy ending does not make for a bad story and a gratuitous or emotional death does not necessarily make a better movie.
What’s more, some of these films are pretty damn good - a few even rank among the best the genre has to offer.
And if it wasn’t already clear by the title, spoilers lie ahead…
1985’s Explorers is remembered mostly for marking the film debuts of both Ethan Hawke and River Phoenix.
Directed by Joe Dante, of Gremlins fame, Explorers can be best described as a mesh of Space Camp, E.T. and Flight Of The Navigator. The plot follows the adventures of four teenagers who build their own spaceship to discover alien life.
While not considered ground-breaking or particularly brilliant upon its release, the film is still a charming and incredibly fun family adventure, that rides on the likability of its central child actors.
It’s a feel-good flick and as such it would have been rather strange had a character died during the film. Interestingly Dante doesn’t have such fond memories of Explorers. Thanks to the studio pushing forward its release date, production and post-production was incredibly rushed, and Dante claims the final product wasn’t exactly what he had intended. So who knows, maybe in his original draft things were a bit more sinister.
Unfortunately, the release date Explorers was moved to was just a week after Back To The Future's and, as a result, this ended up being a financial failure. However since then, the film has gained a significant cult following and ranks highly in the family sci-fi film genre.