Solarbabies (1986)

solarbabies poster 1986 movie
4.5 Overall Score
Story: 4/10
Acting: 6/10
Visuals: 4/10

Over-the-top acting with fun '80s so-bad-it-is-good movie

Probably only enjoyable to those who watched as a kid

Movie Info

Movie Name:   Solarbabies

Studio:   Brooksfilms

Genre(s):   Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Action/Adventure

Release Date(s):   November 26, 1986

MPAA Rating:   PG-13

solarbabies sport cast review

Wait…are we doing Starlight Express or Xanadu?

The future is bleak.  Water is being controlled and there are hundreds of orphaned children throughout the dry, arid land.  Terra (Jami Gertz), Jason (Jason Patric), Tug (Peter DeLuise), Metron (James LeGross), and Rabbit (Claude Brooks), and their mascot Daniel (Lukas Haas) are a team called the Solarbabies, but when Daniel discovers a strange sentient glowing sphere named Bodai, Bodai reveals strange powers.  Unfortunately, another orphan named Darstar (Adrian Pasdar) steals Bodai and the Solarbabies set out to rescue Bodai…and the future could be ready for a change!

Directed by Alan Johnson, Solarbabies is a teen sci-fi action-adventure film.  The movie was widely panned upon its release but did better on VHS and cable reruns gaining a small cult audience.

Solarbabies is bad…but so bad it is good.  I remember renting Solarbabies multiple times, realizing it was bad even as a kid, but still liking it.  I hadn’t seen the movie in years…and still had the same result.  It is ’80s kid entertainment and bad ’80s kid entertainment, but I could watch it over and over again.

solarbabies cast jami gertz jason patric lukas haas peter deluise claude brooks james le gros

Our lives are going to be governed by a glowing ball?

The story for Solarbabies is a hodgepodge of sci-fi clichés.  The movie plotlines feel not only like Dune but also steals from other post-apocalyptic films like Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (Tire Town?) while trying to create a Red Dawn feel that never exists.  The movie ends as you’d expect it to end with the bad guys going down and water being free again…maybe the bad guys were controlling the water in a conservation method to keep it from being lost forever?  Maybe the flood of water killed and washed away Terra’s people since it looks like they lived in a valley near the water control building.  Fortunately, the Solarbabies all learned how to swim pretty quickly.

The cast is very, very ’80s.  Jami Gertz and Jason Patric reteamed for The Lost Boys in 1987, and Lukas Haas was just coming off of Witness…plus, if it is an ’80s movie, you have to have a DeLuise (Peter gets this one).  The heavy-handed-villain Richard Jordan was also in Dune as Duncan Idaho and it was unfortunate that the movie introduces Superman II’s Sarah Douglas too late because she could have been fun.  The movie was Adrian Pasdar’s first big role before Near Dark the next year and Terrence Mann was just starting the Critters series.  Charles Durning character feels like it should have had a bigger role or at least returned at the end since he was the only “good guy” adult.

solarbabies grock daniel bodai richard jordan lukas haas

Bad touch! Bad Touch!

Visually, the movie is pretty poor as well.  The characters look like they are putting on a version of Andrew Rice Weber’s Starlight Express in leftover sets from the Mad Max films.  The movie could have been aided by mutants or something because Bodai just doesn’t cut is as the fantasy aspect of the movie.

Solarbabies is a movie that will probably be dismissed if you never grew-up with it.  If you did grow-up with it, it is bad, but it as schmaltzy type of bad movie that is fun because you can remember sitting on the couch and popping the VHS into the VCR (after sitting a couple minutes after you realize you didn’t rewind it).  The movie was produced by Mel Brooks who ended up making his money back from it after a few years on tape, but I don’t think we’ll see a relaunch or remake of this movie anytime soon.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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