FT Top 100 Films
72: FLIGHT OF THE NAVIGATOR
Shiny. My abiding memory of Flight Of The Navigator was how shiny the spaceship was. How little I knew that in the decade coming, everything would be shiny. From Terminators to old spaceships in the Star Wars that time forgot. Indeed the stiletto dagger as flown by Anakin in The Phantom Menace is much more like the spaceship in Flight of The Navigator than any ship seen anywhere else int he Star Wars universe. If it is an homage then good, because Flight Of The Navigator is a much better kids film than The Phantom Menace.
The plot: David goes into the woods to find his missing younger brother, gets a bump on the head and wakes up seven years later barely aging a jot. Looked at from a pure story point of view, this is potentially the basis for a horror movie. Imagine his parents worry. Son vanishes. Then he returns. All good kids films have elements of horror in them and whilst this hides this in the background, the confusion, wonder and fear on the parents faces stand as a good reminder about what happens if we do run away. And imagine your horror when your little brother you used bully turns up three years older than you.
Despite Dave not having seen ET (it came out in 1982) he is well aware that scientific marvels like him exist to be prodded. So he escapes the scientists to stumble across the shiny, top comedy, Pee Wee Herman voiced spaceship Max which proceeds to explain what exactly happened to him. And also take him on another spin round the universe and essay a beginners guide to the theory of relativity while you are at it.
An intriguing blend of proper science and wish fulfillment, the film stay remarkably grounded by explain the human costs of both the science and that wish fulfillment. And it was the first with the shiny.