When it comes to science fiction, you can't always count on Captain Kirk or Han Solo to save the day. Some of the best sci-fi films of all time have revolved around younger heroes. With ‘Project Almanac’ exploring how a group of teens deal with the ability to travel through time, check out our list of essential kid-focused sci-fi fare.
Escape to Witch Mountain (1975)
Disney’s recent ‘Witch Mountain’ sequel may star Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, but we still love the inventive charm of the original film. Kim Richards and Ike Eisenmann star as orphaned twin siblings with unexplainable psychic gifts. The two find themselves evading adults who would abuse their gifts while trying to make the journey to the titular mountain.
E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
This classic Steven Spielberg film proved not all aliens are hostile, world-dominating invaders. E.T. was just a cuddly little critter who was accidentally left behind on Earth. Luckily for him, his new friend Elliot (Henry Thomas) was just the kid to help the space traveler “phone home” and evade the government.
The Last Starfighter (1984)
Any kid who ever had to suffer their parents complaining about too many video games probably wished they could be like Alex Rogan (Lance Guest). In this iconic sci-fi tale, Alex's unparalleled skill at an arcade game called ‘Starfighter’ winds up landing him a coveted position protecting the distant world of Rylos from hostile invasion.
Back to the Future (1985)
Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) was just a humble 17-year-old with dreams of rock stardom. Those dreams are put on hold, however, when Marty finds himself marooned in the year 1955 after accidentally traveling through time in a Delorean. And that was just the beginning of Marty's weird, wonderful journey.
Drawing heavily from past kid-centric sci-fi flicks like ‘E.T.’ and ‘Escape to Witch Mountain,’ ‘Explorers’ -- about a couple of misfit kids who create their own spaceship -- has developed a cult following over the years, and it also has the distinction of featuring the first starring roles for both River Phoenix and Ethan Hawke.
Weird Science (1985)
The teen protagonists (Anthony Michael Hall and Ilan Mitchell-Smith) of this sci-fi comedy aren't interested in such noble pursuits as finding their families or defending an alien civilization. Instead, they use their computer wizardry to design the perfect woman (Kelly LeBrock), whose stunning looks are backed up by superhuman abilities.
Flight of the Navigator (1986)
You might think a story about a boy who’s abducted by aliens for eight years and returns with his mind full of strange wonders would either be the stuff of serious drama or epic sci-fi spectacle. Instead, ‘Flight of the Navigator’ is charming thanks to its lighthearted approach and a stellar performance from a young Joey Cramer.
Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure (1989)
Have you ever wished you could stop time to finish an important assignment? The two goofy heroes of this film (played by Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter) take it one step further by traveling through time in a magical phone booth in order to kidnap famous “historical dudes” to help them with their history presentation. Time travel has never made less sense or been more fun.
The Faculty (1998)
Plenty of students have hypothesized that their teachers are aliens in disguise, but in the case of this sci-fi horror film, it was actually true. Elijah Wood stars as a humble teen hero forced to lead the charge when the teachers of his school begin attacking and assimilating students one by one.
Donnie Darko (2001)
Teen angst, apocalyptic drama, and philosophical musings on the nature of reality collided in this unusual sci-fi flick. Jake Gyllenhaal's Donnie is a teen plagued by troubling visions who is tasked with saving his universe from complete destruction. The original theatrical cut only hinted at the true scope of writer/director Richard Kelly's story.
A watch that can essentially stop time for the wearer would be a pretty hot-ticket item. Plenty of hijinks ensue in this comedic sci-fi film when it falls into the hands of a hapless teen Zak Gibbs (Jesse Bradford) and puts him in the crosshairs of the NSA.
Attack the Block (2011)
Director Joe Cornish made a strong impression with his directorial debut – a comedy/horror film about a gang of British teens who are forced to defend their block from alien invaders. John Boyega emerged as an up-and-coming young actor thanks to his starring role, which led to his casting in the upcoming ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens.’
The Hunger Games (2012)
“Teen-centric dystopian sci-fi drama” has become a popular sub-genre these days, thanks in no small part to this film and its sequels. Jennifer Lawrence solidified her Hollywood star status by starring as Katniss Everdeen, a humble teen forced to compete in a televised death-match – one who unwittingly finds herself becoming the figurehead of a revolution.