Follow TV Tropes


Film / Solarbabies

Go To

A 1986 sci-fi film directed by Alan Johnson and produced by Mel Brooks' Brooksfilms for MGM.

The story is set in a post-apocalyptic future in which most of Earth's water has disappeared. The future is bleak and what is left of the water supply is controlled by the Eco Protectorate (a para-military organization that governs the planet's new order). There are also children, mostly teenagers, living in orphanages created by the Protectorate, designed to indoctrinate new recruits into their service.

The Warden: "I am the warden of Orphanage 43, one of the many orphanages that border the wasteland. Children are brought here at an early age to be indoctrinated to serve the system. It hurts me to do that to them. I too, must serve the system."

The protagonists consist of Jason (Jason Patric), Terra (Jami Gertz), Tug (Peter DeLuise), Rabbit (Claude Brooks), Metron (James LeGros), and a young deaf boy named Daniel (Lukas Haas). The orphans play a rough sport which is a hybrid of lacrosse and roller-hockey. The titular Solarbabies have (through their experiences and friendships on the team) managed to forge a bond that unites them and transcends the futile attempts of the Protectorate to control them.

While hiding in a mineshaft, after a game broken up by the Protectorate, Daniel finds a mysterious orb with special powers. The orb is apparently an alien intelligence called Bohdai, who miraculously restores Daniel's hearing and has other powers, once even creating rain indoors. Daniel takes the orb back to his companions, but another orphan, Darstar, impressed by its abilities and power it promises, steals the orb, hoping to present it to the Tchigani, his native people. He leaves the orphanage with first Daniel and then, as a result, the rest of the Solarbabies in hot pursuit.

What follows is a pretty standard '80s post-apocalyptic child-empowerment romp fueled by the power of friendship as the Solarbabies risk life and limb to protect the orb (and each other) from the machinations of the oppressive Protectorate.

As an interesting sidenote, the film was renamed Solarwarriors in the UK. (possibly to make it sound tougher). However, the dialogue concerning the team name was unchanged.

This movie contains examples of:

  • After the End: You better believe it. Bonus points for also being barren due to lack of water.
  • Big Damn Heroes: The appearance of the Eco Warriors to rescue the protagonists from bounty hunters certainly qualifies.
  • Bounty Hunter: Malice and Dogger hang around the E-police headquarters in the middle of the wasteland, begging for work and saying they'll kill or capture whoever Strictor wants if he'll give them water.
  • Born After the End: It has apparently been decades since most of drinking water was lost and wars ravaged the planet, as some of the main characters have been at the state-ran Orphanage of Fear since infancy.
  • Caring Gardener: The Warden uses some of his limited drinking water rations to make a flower grow in the middle of the desert. Strictor kills the flower just to be a jerk.
  • Commander Contrarian: Metron spends a lot of his time complaining about his friends' decisions. He gets better after a while.
  • Do-Anything Robot: "Gentlemen, this is Terminac. He is a multi-capable masterpiece. He can squeeze the colour from a ruby or deftly pluck the eye from a living bird. And he is programmed to ''enjoy'' what he does."
  • Fat and Skinny: The two bounty hunters. Malice is chunky and Dogger is thin.
  • Gene Hunting: Darstar tries to track down the village he was taken away from when he was two months old to reunite with his people.
  • Groin Attack: Never get fresh with a girl holding a shovel.
  • Hero of Another Story: Greentree has little to do with the main action but spent years prior to the movie fighting the sinister E-Protectorate, trying to break their control over the world, a struggle which saw his wife killed and his daughter abducted.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: After escaping guards and attack-dogs by climbing a ladder, the heroes push another security guard down the ladder's shaft. The sound of the dogs tearing into the hapless guard can be heard as the characters continue on. Grock gets attacked by his own minions' Robotic Torture Device after it's blinded by the kids.
  • Imported Alien Phlebotinum: The Orb (Bohdai)
  • Injun Country: Lots of this with Darstar's people the Tchigani.
  • Long-Lost Relative: Terra's dad - who happens to also be the leader of the Eco Warriors.
  • Meaningful Name: Bodhi. In the Mahabhrata, Bodhi stones are powerful orbs which granted enlightenment to the eight village elders the stones with given to. The word "bodhi" is also the Sanksrit word for "enlightenment."
  • A Nazi by Any Other Name: The E-Protectorate troops wear gray Nazi-like uniforms, break apart families, and try to indoctrinate the world's children into believing their point of view while being willing to kill those who won't accept it. The Big Bad even has a German-sounding name.
  • Nebulous Evil Organisation: The E-Protectorate.
  • Opposing Sports Team: The Scorpions are shown, purely to introduce Corrupt Cop characters Gavial and Strictor Grock.
  • Outrun the Fireball: The Solarbabies do this at the end when Bohdai decides to destroy the facility by exploding. He gets better.
  • Pinball Protagonist: The Solarbabies.
  • Punny Name: Bodhi gets the appelation "Sphere of Longinus". Longinus is reportedly the name of the Roman soldier who stabbed Christ with a spear.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: The warden doesn't discipline the orphans under his care unless he's forced to by his bosses and lets them go outside the facility's walls on occasion. When disciplining the Solarbabies for going outside without permission to play a game, he says that he would have allowed them to play at the prison if they'd asked. He also pleads with Strictor not to kill Jason and the others after they escape.
    The Warden: This orphanage is dedicated to producing useful members of the E-Protectorate. I will not run it as a prison.
  • Recycled IN SPACE!: The movie is best described as Mad Max ON ROLLER SKATES!
  • Rollerblade Good: The protagonists all ride on roller skates.
  • The Smurfette Principle: Terra is the only girl among the heroes.
  • Tech Marches On: Daniel's "electric ear". Nowadays, he'd just wear a hearing aid.
    • He would have "just worn a hearing aid" in the 80's as well. The cumbersome junky nature of the "electric ear" was a deliberate representation of the "scavenged tech" theme running through the movie.
  • The '80s: If you've ever seen the trailer. In addition, the protagonists use "roller skates" in the far future setting - seemingly having never heard of "rollerblades"
  • The Empire: The E-Protectorate.
  • Token Black Friend: Rabbit is the sole African-American character and is one of the least fleshed out characters.
  • Tragic Hero: Darstar is a bit of one. He steals the orb in the hopes of restoring the spiritual power of his people, but unfortunately they've grown corrupt and his act leads to them being decimated or enslaved.
    Terra: "Why did you take the sphere?"
    Darstar: "Because I thought it'd do magic for me, like it did for you."
  • Wasteland Elder:
    • Greentree leads the Eco-Warriors, who reside in a Hidden Elf Village with one of the world's few oases. Once, he led the battle against the Nebulous Evil Organization, but he's just been laying low and hoping to win by surviving for the past few years.
    • The Gypsy-esque Tchigani people are also hiding from the E-Police in the wasteland, although their community is far less prosperous than Greentree's. Their leader is only in his thirties and isn't particularly bright or pleasant. However, the group's eldest member is more approachable and the only one who's heard of Bodhi.
    Ivor: He's old. He only lives to keep the past.
  • Wise Beyond Their Years: Darstar dips into this occasionally
    Darstar: "I was raised in a Protectorate orphanage. That's all I know."
    Chief: "What do they call you?"
    Darstar: "I call myself Darstar."
    Chief: "The owl, it's yours?"
    Darstar: "As much as an owl is anyone's."