Retro-Review: SOLARBABIES (1986)

I was a child of the 80s and I spent most of my time watching movies. One that missed me was Solarbabies, which I recently discovered in a random 80s list.

It’s weird how some sci-fi movies missed me, I hadn’t heard of The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension until last year, and this Solarbabies never heard of it until recently. It must have been a UK thing, with some movies just not getting a UK release.

The story of Solarbabies is:

In a post-apocalyptic future ruled by the military, a group of renegade teenage orphans find a legendary orb, Bohdai, that can supposedly bring the rain back to dried up Earth.

The movie stars Jason Patrick, Jami Gertz, Richard Jordan, Lucas Hass, Sarah Douglas, Adrian Pasdar, Alexei Sayle, Bruce Payne, and Charles Durning. Now, I will admit, one of the reasons I wanted to watch this was because of Gertz, since I had such a crush on her, back in the day.

The story starts off in an orphanage, where kids are forced into work and made to play a roller staking game, which often ends in fighting. The Solarbabies, which is the worst name to call your team, is up against another of the teams, basically, the bad guys.

Daniel, played by Haas, is deaf, which wasn’t explained at all, but ends up finding a glowing orb, which seems to be some kind of creature/living being, which he calls Bohdai. When he finds it, it seems to cure his deafness.

Bohdai can make it rain indoors, something the team has never seen before since the earth is scorched. Another of the orphans steals Bohdai and heads off, hoping it can help him out, so the team goes after him.

The E-Police are sent out to recapture the kids and put them back in the orphanage, but they learn about Bohdai and want to destroy it, not sure why. The team learns about this and goes and saves it. Yeah, a bunch of kids on roller skates infiltrate a heavily fortified fortress, and guess what? They save the day.

The main story of the movie kind of had possibilities, but the execution is bad. All of the bad guys are so typically bad, they didn’t really have to act much, they were literally phoning it in.

The main cast is all pretty good, Patrick is the leader, young Haas does a fine job and Gertz looks hot all the way through. There is a scene where she seems to be wearing a top that is see-through, but I couldn’t tell. After an hour of pausing the movie, I decided it I couldn’t quite and I had to carry on coz the wife was due home any minute.

Nearly, but not quite.

I loved how the movie is set in the desert, but there always seem to be roads and flat surfaces that the kids could use to roller skate on since skates aren’t very good on sand.

Near the end, the bad guys bring in a killer robot, which is literally a killer robot, it’s been designed to find its target weakness and exploit it. It’s also been programmed to enjoy itself when it’s doing it because a killer robot is better at what it does when it’s happy.

Weirdly, the movie was executively produced by Mel Brooks, who invested $1.5 mill of his own money into making the movie. It was going to be shot in Spain, where they had the scorched earth look, but the production was constantly held up because of rain.

The actual production is pretty impressive, the sets are huge and the vehicles and costumes must have cost a pretty penny. Apparently, Brooks lost in total $9 mill of his own money, which he said he did eventually get back, which he said was more of a miracle than anything else.

Overall, the movie is a mess, it’s stupid, it’s weird, but it’s entertaining, in that ‘80’s kids’ movie’ way. I did find myself giggling at it and basically enjoying the adventure.

I give Solarbabies a 2.5 out of 5 since it was crap, but good at the same time. If you haven’t seen it, check it out, just don’t expect a masterpiece.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

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