I’m making a list and I’m hoping you’ll check it twice. What does not belong on this list, what should be added?

Superman (all of them)

Earthbound

E.T.,The Extra-Terrestrial

Star Trek

Star Trek: The Motion Picture

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

Star Trek III: The Search for Spock

Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home

Star Trek V: The Final Frontier

Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (Theatrical)

TRON The Original Classic (1982)

Star Wars

The Philadelphia Experiment

Terminator (all of them) FLAGGED AS QUESTIONABLE

Back to the Future

D.A.R.Y.L.

Explorers

Flight of The Navigator

Transformers

*Batteries Not Included

Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure

Honey I shrunk/blew up the kids/myself etc. series

Jetsons: The Movie

Journey to the Center of the Earth

Time Bandits

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29 thoughts on “Kid-watchable 1980s Science Fiction Films

  1. Yeah, I actually started with a similar list from Teh Wiki and eliminated the ones I knew were bad, kept the ones I knew were good, and punted on a bunch of them!

  2. Good list. I wouldn’t include Terminator (for my kids anyway). You could add some old movies;

    Forbidden Planet (to scare them)
    Disney’s Black Hole
    Close Encounters of the Third Kind
    The Day the Earth Stood Still
    War of the Worlds

  3. Forbidden Planet was one of my favorite movies, and scared the crap out of me, esp. the scene where the astronaut is absorbed into the blobby thing, when I was a kid.

    I haven’t seen Black Hole. Looks good. 1979. I do plan to cover other decades so that’s a good one.

    Close Encounters … almost put that on the list even though it is a tad early. Def goes on the 70s list.

    The Day the Earth Stood Still is a classic. I wonder if it is a bit too slow for younger kids, and being in black and white as well… but I plan on showing it to Huxley soon to find out!

    I don’t remember the War of the Worlds from the 50s well enough, but is that the one where the flying saucers run into the various national monuments, knocking down the Washington Monument and such?

  4. Ah, just watched the trailor of War of the World’s I remember it well now. Might be colorized.

    “Guns, tanks, Bombs … they’re like toys against them!”

  5. I’m amused at how many of these I haven’t seen.
    * I’ve only seen the first Terminator
    * Never saw D.A.R.Y.L., Explorers, Flight of the Navigator, Batteries Not Included, Bill/Ted…

    You don’t have Silent Running in your list.

  6. Time bandits certainly fits the criteria.
    Remembering just how big the buzz was about ET.
    By golly it was huge. Im not even sure why it was so good. People REALLY liked it. I really liked it. Hard to articulate why though. Hmmmm Might have to watch it again with much older eyes.
    Not sure if the outstanding Akira could be called kid friendly. Damn its a good flick though.

    Just looked at the ET preview. So friggen B grade corny!
    And yet, theres something really amazing about that film.
    Heres the preview for those interested.

    https://youtu.be/_7-2PB4jj2o

  7. Hmmm… Greg, I think you’re misremembering Forbidden Planet — or more specifically conflating it with another movie.

  8. Flight of the Navigator is maybe the best choice for a category like this. There’s another whose title I can’t recall in which three alien kids go skylarking off in a starship that belongs to one of their fathers and end up at Earth, where they interact with a human boy.

    I’d throw in Them!, about the giant ants, and the original Invaders from Mars. I thought of The Arrival, with Charlie Sheen. But that’s got some nudity and gruesome violence in it; I’m not sure it’s kid-suitable.

    Second the recommendations of Time Bandits, Close Encounters, and E.T. Also The Day the Earth Stood Still, as long as it’s the 1951 version (I think the 2008 remake is a bad film.)

    • That might be the Explorers (see the pic at the top of the post).

      I loved “THEM!” as a kid. It is from the 50s, so I’ll include that on the 50s list.

  9. Here are some other possibilities:

    10,000 BC (Roland Emmerich, dir.)
    The Abyss
    Aeon Flux
    The Andromeda Strain (1971 version)
    Cocoon
    The Day after Tomorrow
    Divergent
    Dune (either version, or the miniseries)
    Enemy Mine
    Explorers
    Fantastic Voyage
    Gravity
    Independence Day
    Interstellar
    Jupiter Ascending (maybe not for younger kids, because of the opening)
    Logan’s Run
    The Martian
    Project Almanac
    The Silencer and the Sky
    Stargate
    Tobor the Great
    Tron and Tron: Legacy
    WarGames
    Waterworld

    Since I seconded Time Bandits, which I consider fantasy, I’ll also add:

    Ali Baba & the Forty Thieves (Nuri Ergun, dir.)
    The Dark Crystal
    Dragonslayer
    The Forbidden Kingdom
    Jason and the Argonauts
    Krull
    Ladyhawke
    Legend
    The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad
    Warm Bodies (some gruesome scenes)

    • Excellent suggestions. I’ll be adding several to the appropriate list!

      I don’t know about Warm Bodies though…

  10. Ah, I missed the fact that these should be 1980s films. I’ll re-post my list with year of production added.

  11. 10,000 BC (Roland Emmerich, dir., 2008)
    The Abyss (1989)
    Aeon Flux (2005)
    The Andromeda Strain (1971 version)
    Cocoon (1985)
    The Day after Tomorrow (2004)
    Divergent (2014)
    Dune (either 1984 version, or the 2004 miniseries)
    Enemy Mine (1985)
    Explorers (1985)
    Fantastic Voyage (1966)
    Gravity (2013)
    Independence Day (1996)
    Interstellar (2014)
    Jupiter Ascending (2015 — maybe not for younger kids, because of the opening)
    Logan’s Run (1976)
    The Martian (2015)
    Project Almanac (2015)
    The Silencer and the Sky (2007)
    Stargate (1994)
    Tobor the Great (1954)
    Tron and Tron: Legacy (1982 & 2010, respectively)
    WarGames (1983)
    Waterworld (1995)

    Since I seconded Time Bandits, which I consider fantasy, I’ll also add:

    Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves (Nuri Ergun, dir., 1971)
    The Dark Crystal (1982)
    Dragonslayer (1981)
    The Forbidden Kingdom (2008)
    Jason and the Argonauts (1963)
    Krull (1983)
    Ladyhawke (1985)
    Legend (1985)
    The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad (1958)
    Warm Bodies (2013)
    Willow (1988)

  12. OK, most of the SF titles are rated PG-13. Only The Andromeda Strain is rated G. The PG rating goes to Explorers (1985), Fantastic Voyage (1966), Logan’s Run (1976), Tron (1982), Tron: Legacy (2010), & WarGames (1983). The Dune miniseries is unrated, probably the TV equivalent of PG-13.

    Among fantasy films, Jason and the Argonauts (1963), The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958), and Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves (Arthur Lubin, dir., 1944) are Approved. (Note that the latter has a different director; the version on my previous list is from Turkey.) The PG rating goes to The Dark Crystal (1982), Dragonslayer (1981), Krull (1983), Legend (1985), and Willow (1988). Dragonslayer has a brief nude scene, but I doubt most kids would mind it.

  13. No, per the description of Explorers at the IMDB, it’s not the same at all.

    Oh, I almost forgot. The Silencer and the Sky (2007) has no rating on the IMDB. Here’s the description given: “A lost and estranged ex-military sniper turned mercenary for an unscrupulous company finds solace, hope, and possibility in choosing to protect a deaf child during a mission to assassinate her, making him a rogue agent determined to find safety for his new counterpart, while delivering a very important invention for a friend indebted to him for protecting his family in a past war.”

    That one could have some violence in it.

  14. In The Explorers, it starts with three earth kids, one being a genius who tinkers, and they discover stuff, and eventually build a space ship that puts them in contact with three alien kids, but they don’t know they are kids … they just know they are aliens. Until the alien kids’ parents call them back in from playing! So, apparently, different, but roughly similar concept.

    BOLD

  15. Its only sort of scifi in the alternative reality sense, but the short film BabaKiueria is brilliant and should be watched by all children in Australia imo.
    Shame its virtually unknown.
    Actually it might interest you Greg, from an ethnographic perspective.
    Its sorta similar to the great Darkest Austria film, which im guessing you have seen, given your African interest.
    Lol at the adults who climb snowy mountains and slide down em over and over again like little kids on a slippery dip.

  16. No one mentioned “Starman” with Jeff Bridges. I loved that movie and one of my kids enjoyed it as well.
    Short Circuit
    Space Camp
    Witch Mountain
    The Last Starfighter
    Wargames

    For fantasy you’d have to add Labrynth.

    I would add a caution to Back to the Future; it’s more violent than kids are used to these days.

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