With some new film kid being rocketed into space almost every other month, this 1986 reworking of familiar material stood a cut above the average, for which we can thank director Randal Kleiser rather than anyone at Disney script and storyboard. The sense of isolation (our hero wrenched from family, time, and ordinary necessity, hidden away at an army base, whisked into space, around the earth, under the sea . . . ) and the small knots of human interconnection asserting their rights against a vast planetary indifference seem recurring threads in Kleiser's work (e.g., Brooke and buddy stranded on an island in The Blue Lagoon; small-town adolescents amid a vacancy of prairie in Grandview, U.S.A.), not as a fully worked out theme but as a subtle, almost subliminal undercurrent. At times a bit too precious, especially inside the young navigator's spacecraft, but the warm regard for character, as well as for our often-inhospitable planetary home, makes for a reasonably good time. PG, 90 min.
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