5 Retro Sci-Fi Movies to Blow Your Kids Minds

26.03.2020, 19:09

Experiencing lock-down under current Coronavirus conditions needn’t be a depressing or uninspiring time. It could actually be a good moment to expand your kids minds (i.e. ignite their imagination) by digging out some classic science-fiction movies from the 1980s.



With  JJ Abrams’ brilliant tribute to 1980s sci-fi movies ‘Super 8’ currently streaming on Netflix, let’s take a look at five other must-see retro predecessors you can show off to the present, younger generation. 


True, back then we may have been only just discovering the wonder of realistic cinematic effects, conjuring up the concept of aliens visiting us, beasts (Jaws) in the sea, like never before in vivid movie moments, but also potent storyline and characters were not forgotten.


'E.T. - The Extra Terrestrial'



Filled with empathy and wide-eyed delight at the prospect of an alien really landing on our planet, Spielberg’s classic presents family life with all its chaotic, exciting charm as it suddenly gets a lot messier thanks to a friendly but misunderstood visitor. 


Less the tear-jerker it once was, it builds up its emotional bonds on a runway to that well-known, magical bike ride. It’s the kids versus adulthood versus government control, in one glorious bid for independence. 





Less well-known but with a similar theme, three friends are summoned into space by TV-watching aliens. With two of the child actors going on to become big stars, there are moments of how much better the film could have become if it had been given more time in production. There are also subplots that were never developed. But.. the film still remains enjoyable and exciting for the way in which the kids are summoned, for their performances and for effective special effects. The director went on to make ‘InnerSpace’ which would certainly feature on a version of this list for bigger kids.




Made by Disney, you can get away with showing this one to 7+ kids, as it’s not too violent but at the same time doesn’t patronise its audience. Instead, this tale of a guy who gets zapped into a computer and has to play video games for real, contains special effects that will likely never again be reproduced in such a way. Our love affair with computers and tech was just beginning and this movie exudes this aura with all its ideas and references. In many ways, we’ve all been trapped inside computers ever since.


'Short Circuit'



Again exploring a growing fascination and love for technology, ‘Johnny 5’ comes alive in this early robotics-inspired story of a robot that comes to sentient life and escapes its AI-researching military lab. Beneath the watchable comedy moments, action scenes and more far-fetched elements, is a convincing, somewhat more serious theme of AI being hunted by its creators, which should involve kids. For its time, the robot was very well animated, mixed with special effects, and surrounded by charismatic characters. It’s more real, and better than Wall:E. The sequel was okay too.

'Flight of the Navigator'



This will also work as a great family movie, especially where the hero boy gets to activate and fly the alien spacecraft towards the end. Darker perhaps than the above movies, for slightly bigger kids, with some of its story presenting time-based concepts that might upset, it otherwise ends up being harmless and uplifting. Lots of special effects and again presenting government bodies struggling to show empathy towards individuals, a big 80s theme not irrelevant today either. 



[A whole lot of other retro movies for (even bigger) kids that shouldn’t be overlooked: Back to the FutureThe Princess BrideThe Goonies, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Batteries Not Included, Cocoon, Romancing the Stone, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Police Academy, Gremlins, Small Soldiers…. These were family movies where young and old were equally celebrated.]


You should find the above titles for good prices on Netflix or Amazon somewhere to stream or purchase by download, but if you’re a true sci-fi fan, you’ll probably have them on DVD or Blu-Ray somewhere in a box. 



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