Solarbabies was not exactly a box office standout back in 1986, but in retrospect it’s a delicious slice of nostalgia. This 1980’s sci-fi classic stars Richard Jordan, Jami Gertz, Jason Patric, and Lukas Haas.
The movie is an amalgamation of all that is good and satisfying about a cut-rate futurama-flick of an era gone by. In this post-apocalyptic world, water is controlled by an evil corporation named Eco Protectorate. This governing body snatches orphans and prepares them for posts as mindless paratroopers of the new order. A bleak and “Mad-Max” desert landscape finds hope when these chosen young rebels come upon Bodahi, a glowing force of good from another planet. As they escape their captors, the Solarbabies travel the wasteland and gather the strength to fight back and liberate the parched world from it’s suffocating tyranny.
All of this is accentuated with an important plot element. The orphans play “Skateball”, a rough hybrid sport of lacrosse on skates. Perhaps the studios’ gambit to incorporate more action scenes was an appeal to fans of the successful 1975 film Rollerball. The plot devise serves as the unifying force that emboldens the Solarbabies against the attempts of their despotic rulers to control them.
The film boasts an impressive “who’s who” cast of 80’s teen movies standouts, particularly Jason Patrick (Lost Boys) and Jami Gertz (Sixteen Candles). Be sure to note cameos by Adrian Pasdar, Peter DeLuise, James Le Gros and others, including the late Richard Jordan. Jordan plays the villain, a role that seems to have been his forte. Also find a very young Lukas Haas, in one of his child-roles as “Daniel”, the incorruptible source of good and innocence in the film. It’s hard to believe he’s 38 years old now!
The great cast, the dystopia set, the special effects, title graphics, and costumes are all part of the fun here and the hilarious dialogue that will have you rolling in the aisles. Famous film historian Leonard Maltin noted Solarbabies as “An appalling stinker; the 1980’s teen jargon doesn’t exactly capture the futuristic mood of this junk”. In any case, Solarbabies will quench your thirst for a low-grade futuristic film that does not transcend it’s era, but encapsulates it and inadvertently crystallizes perfectly all the cheesy, fabulous sci-fi tropes of the 1980’s.