Remember when Disney movies used to give us nightmares, and used to fascinate us with new ideas and sights instead of just making “princess” movies and Pixar sequels? The 1986 film Flight of the Navigator was one of those, and now it’s making a comeback.
The original film centered on a 12-year-old boy who falls down a ravine in the woods and is knocked unconscious in 1978, only to wake up eight years later in 1986, without any signs of aging or a scrap of memory of the missing time. His parents and younger-now-older brother, confused and frightened by the reappearance of their son and brother, ship the newly-returned kid off to a sketchy scientific facility where he finds out he had been abducted by an alien craft that collects life from various planets.
The boy is reunited with the ship, where he learns about what happened to him and befriends the ship’s AI, Max, who was voiced by Pee-Wee Herman actor Paul Reubens in the original.
The movie dealt with some pretty intense concepts for its time and demographic, stuff like missing time, grief and loss, and memory, and it had some effects that were pretty incredible back then.
I’m eager to see Disney look back at some of this stuff. That movie was deeply rooted in late 70s and early 80s pop culture, steeped in stuff like the Beach Boys, Pee-Wee’s iconic laugh, and more, that would make it less-than-accessible today.
Disney has been kicking the movie around for a while now. Arrested Development writer Brad Copeland was hired to write the first draft back in 2009, and around 2012 future-erstwhile Star Wars: Episode IX director Colin Trevorrow was set to write the script alongside Derek Connolly, but Lucifer showrunner Joe Henderson is now in charge of the project.
Now, can we get Disney to give The Black Cauldron, Something Wicked This Way Comes, and The Watcher in the Woods another look?