on September 30, 2007
First of all, I am a huge fan of anything sci-fi. That said, chances are that if you liked "Serenity" and "Firefly", and if you could imagine those movies/shows with a lot more humor and camp, then "Lost in Space" is the movie for you. I had never seen the TV Series as I wasn't born then, but the film is a delightful confection, one that you will surprisingly keep remembering days after you've seen it. This one is a panned film, with negative reviews all around, but for me it succeeded as pure sci-fi escapism and entertainment, and it surpassed my wildest imagination.
William Hurt is good in anything, and he was great here as the father who loves his work more than his family. The dialogue, which most people found inane and juvenile, is certainly nothing to write home about, but its servicable. I would say that if they had a better screenwriter the film would have probably done better business all around.
My only 'problem' with this film is the monkey-like alien that they suddenly introduced. They get this off a deserted space station in a hyper universe. The moneky names itself Blarp. Yes, you heard that right. The CGI on this is especially bad as it looks like it belongs in a much different, much less sophisticated film. If the monkey were removed, this would have been an even better film.
Matt LeBlanc was 31 years old when he made this, and he has never looked better either before or since. I was quite surprised that Joey looked 'this good' because frankly looking at him today is a task. The same cannot be said of Heather Graham who has a very weakly written role. Mimi Rogers has the worst lines, as some sort of neglected housewife who just happens to be a pro at interplanetary travel. Whatever. This all worked for me, no matter how convoluted it sounds.
The best way to watch this treat is to leave your brain at the door and take it for what it is. This is a fine slice of sci fi heaven, and definitely better than other more serious films of the genre like 'Red Planet'. And since this DVD is full of features, I'd suggest buying this as soon as you can (it went out of print officially in early 2007 - no idea when its going to be back).
Five Stars. HUGELY entertaining, and I could watch this over and over.
on April 11, 2000
As a dedicated fan of the Lost In Space TV series since my childhood in the 60's I approached New Line's big-screen version with a mixture of anticipation and trepidation on its release in '98. I'd heard about the initial reviews and was ready to be severely let-down. Imagine my surprise to emerge from the cinema feeling as though it was one of the best times I've had at the movies.The amazing effects "blew me away" (leaving me somewhat exhausted by my responses to them)but unlike so many recent sci-fi extravaganzas I found myself entertained by a complex and witty screenplay which also unexpectedly moved me with its restrained use of sentiment.I applaud the efforts of Akiva Goldsman and Stephen Hopkins to recapture the tone of the early black and white episodes of the TV series (before the show descended into camp, never to fully recover)and found the 90's modifications to the concept (eg. dysfunctional family issues etc) intriguing. Fans of the show were given clever references to well-known episodes and lines of dialogue (the first two-thirds of the film stuck very close to the pilot episode and the following one entitled THE DERELICT) and the cameos by original cast-members were great.June Lockhart in particular showed herself to be an actress with a bold sense of humour about her TV image! The film cast couldn't have been better chosen (Gary Oldman is particularly outstanding as the vain, villianous Dr. Smith), all adding the kind of depth we don't see too often in films of this genre.Bruce Broughton's score (the great John Williams was unable to redo his classic TV score due to other commitments) is excellent (see the reviews of the full score CD at Amazon.com) and a worthy successor to its "forbear". Although moved by the ending (involving the saving of John Robinson's life by an older version of his son Will, who in effect sacrifices himself for him) I originally found the last portion of the narrative difficult to grasp and sensed that editing had played a hand in this. The DVD's commentaries and deleted scenes confirmed my theories(the "time bubble" sequence originally had many "bubbles" and dialogue had to be cut when confused preview audiences led the makers to shred this sequence down).Nevertheless, repeated viewings have made even this section more enjoyable and easier to grasp (time warp sequences are usually a bit hard to fully work out at the best of times- eg. BACK TO THE FUTURE II).My only carp is that, despite Jared Harris' good performance, I wish that Bill Mumy (who played Will in the series) had been given the opportunity to portray the older version of Will (he tested for the role and reportedly believed it was his for a time- his disappointment at losing it apparently played a major part in his decision to have no part in the production).Harris (the son of Richard Harris) apparently had his dialogue looped by an American actor.Nonethless, I happily cannot understand the tirade of criticism levelled against this film and believe that time will be kinder to it than many other movies which were well received critically at the same time.One Melbourne critic (Jim Schembri, of The Age, called it "an undeniably entertaining extravaganza based on the modest '60's TV series").It is incomprehensible to me that there were no Oscar nominations forthcoming for Visual Effects, Sound Effects Editing, Dramatic Score and Art Direction-Set Decoration. I have yet to play the (excellently produced) DVD to anyone who has not been entertained and moved by it. A planned sequel is reportedly unlikely to be made now due to box-office figures- a tremendous pity which I hope will be turned around before cast contracts expire etc.. I cannot recommend this film highly enough- even to those who may not be sci-fi buffs.
"Lost in Space" purists probably had a problem with the "updated" version of the 60's show. However, the movie basically reworks several of the better episodes from the "more serious" first season. There are remnants of "The Reluctant Stowaway" which introduced the nefarious Dr. Smith, "The Derelict" wherein the crew discovers a seemingly abandoned ship, and "Island in the Sky" featuring the crash of the Jupiter II.
Also, the film expanded the role of the Judy Robinson part (Heather Graham) by presenting her as a doctor with skills essential to the success of the mission; the television show never really effectively utilized the character. The film also makes better use of the Maureen Robinson (Mimi Rogers) character who is seen as an equal to her scientist husband played by William Hurt. As played by June Lockhart on the show, the character was often relegated to the background as the damsel in distress.
Matt Leblanc is appropriately "macho" as gung-ho pilot Major Don West. The two younger roles of Will and Penny Robinson are handled well by Jack Johnson and Lacey Chabert.
Cameos by Lockhart, Angela Cartwright, Marta Kristen, Mark Goddard, and Dick Trufeld (the Robot's voice) are welcome.
Gary Oldman as Dr. Smith gives a very understated performance. This is due, perhaps, to the over-the-top performance of the series doctor played by Jonathan Harris.
Even with the plot inconsistencies and some "effects" that don't work, the movie is still a fairly enjoyable "journey."
on August 8, 2000
I don't know, maybe it was that severe blow to the head I suffered when I was six, but something has given me a weak spot for hard luck cases- those movies that are so terrible that I actually like them, sort of like a good-bad movie. It's kinda hard to explain properly, like `Independence Day', you know it was silly and contrived, but you liked it despite of that? This is pretty much what I felt like watching this turd of a film- about half way through it I found myself really liking it. I wasn't really old enough to watch the original series, and it never saw much by way of reruns, at least where I was living at the time. However, I did see episodes later and life, and well, the movie is a distinct improvement. They also played it straight instead of for laughs, though with a particularly wooden William Hurt as Dr. Robinson, it wasn't much of a stretch.
Matt LeBlanc takes a welcome departure from `Friends' to assume the role of the Jupiter II's pilot, Major Don West, a part that he was made to play. In fact, he's probably my favorite character, even beyond Gary Oldman's portrayal of the inept saboteur, Dr. Smith. The women of the movie were cast by virtue of how well they appeared in tight fitting rubber and/or spandex outfits, this of course only adds to the film's overall visual appeal. Mimi Rogers portrays John Robinson's equally wooden wife, Maureen, and actually comes across as a fairly extraneous character, since it appears her only job appears to scold the men when they get out of control. Rounding out the kid quotient of the film is Heather Graham as Judy Robinson, who appears to be a graduate of the Robert A. Heinlein school of women, and Lacey Chabert plays the delightfully cute n' snarky Penny Robinson. Lastly is Jack Johnson, who plays young Will Robinson, and it pleased me because he scored very low on the Jake Lloyd Annoy-O-Meter.
That about covers it for the cast, now for plot...
Just kidding. The technology in this film is far in advance of what 2050 stuff will be like, and I had the same feeling watching this as I did with `Event Horizon'. Anyway, the Earth has become one massive stink bomb, because we have simply over populated and over polluted the planet to the point where it can no longer sustain us. Not too hard to believe, really, we're almost there now. So they conceive a plan to build a space craft that will carry a family to a planet called Alpha Prime (don't ask me, I figured it was Proxima Centauri), where they will build a hyperspace gateway that will allow mass transit there by the rest of humanity so we can stink up that planet as well. The catch is there is a terrorist faction on Earth that wants to do all this for themselves, so they hire Dr. Smith to sabotage the Jupiter II and its mission. He does this by reprogramming the ships robot, (called: Robot), but is abandoned by his benefactors, stunned unconscious and is onboard when the Jupiter II launches. Oopsee.
This film has a lot of really silly moments in it, but, there is much her to enjoy. The effects are wonderful, especially the eye-popping fly by of the exploding Proteus star ship-a sequence that takes a full 20 seconds from start to finish. And while the technology is too advanced, it has a wonderful high tech look it. Though I am given to wonder what kind of moron builds space craft with hyperdrive systems that do not allow you to plot a destination, I am willing to overlook such flaws. This movie is fun, has lovely visuals in both the effects and the cast. Matt LeBlanc and Gary Oldman together make up the best parts of the cast, and their interplay is good fun. This isn't really science fiction, rather it's SCIFI (pronounced sciffy), but it's light and easily digestible.
on January 20, 2000
It adds up like this: special effects plus art direction minus a plot equals ZERO. What a mess of a movie! It's all "eye candy" -- it looks great but there's no real substance. The script is a collection of uninteresting, unclever homages to better movies and TV shows ("E.T.", "Rocky Horror Picture Show", "Alien", "The Waltons", etc.) mixed in with boring and predictable dialogue. There aren't even any characters worth rooting for: the Robinsons have been turned into a 1990's dysfunctional family, each of whom is obnoxious. Major West has become a sexist clod; Dr. Smith has lost his campy edge; even the robot is a bore. The ending credits can't come too soon, and unfortunately they're ruined by a loud and ugly theme song.
Admittedly, the DVD edition offers a beautiful transfer and has some neat extras. The theatrical trailer is a lot better than the movie itself, and the interviews with cast members from the 1960's TV series bring back warm and nostalgic memories, as well as a reminder of what the big screen version could and should have been ... but isn't.
on June 9, 1999
I was a bit wary after hearing some criticisms, but now after seeing it, I'm surprised that it wasn't more popular. It's a wonderfully fun movie, but it also stimulates the "grey matter". LeBlanc was outstanding in the MAJOR WEST role, and Hurt was excellent as the father. We've watched it a handful of times and it's a big favorite.
on January 31, 2002
LOST IN SPACE is another failure to adapt a small screen classic to the big screen. It looks very good, in which the special effects are excellent, but something is missing. The cast is top notch, but there is no chemistry. The press releases during the filming of this movie had circulated stories of "heat" being generated by costars Heather Graham and Matt LeBlanc on and off the set. The final cut of the film shows none of that. It was overhyped to sell the film. William Hurt looks way out of his element...as do the rest of the cast. Even Gary Oldman, who has always played memorable villians and characters thoughout his film career, could not bring life to his portrayal of one of tv history's most spineless characters...Dr. Smith! The plot is convoluted, we don't care about the people in this movie, and the ending is predictable. A very forgettable movie. All involved in this "piece of space debris" should have NASA place the original print of this film in a rocket, launch it , and have it really lost in space.
I wanted to like "Lost in Space," I really did, and there certainly are things to enjoy here. That most of them involve the 750 or so visually fantastic CGI effects says all you really need to know about the plot. The film opens with a brilliant space battle and ponderous voiceover, and it takes all of ten minutes or so to get into the trendy premise that manmade climate change and fossil fuels in particular are ruining the Earth, so the logical decision is to send the Robinson family, headed by William Hurt, into space along with pilot Matt LeBlanc (who, believe it or not, turns in the best performance of the film), and two incredibly bratty children who I loathed with a passion (I wanted to strangle Will Robinson). There is also a dreadful cartoon monkey that makes me question if this was supposed to be a comedy. There's lots of hokey jargon about the hyperdrive and heading for the sun and endless stuff like "hyperspace exists beneath normal space," blah, blah, blah. Yawn. Then, of course, there's the evil Dr. Smith, here portrayed by Gary Oldman, who was better in "Tiptoes." (No, really.)
The film meanders all over the place with time travel hokum, a crash landing in the snowy mountains of an unknown planet (No problem!), a marital pillow in outer space (Boo!), a solid demonstration that Professor Robinson has no idea how Captain's authority or the chain of command works on any kind of vessel, and mechanical spiders that veritably scream "we have a $70 million budget for CGI nonsense and we're going to use every penny"! The script is boring and ponderous, the pacing is clunky, and the ending is one of the worst in sci-fi history.
The DVD is absolutely loaded with extras, so if you like the movie, you'll be enthralled. There are two commentaries, a special effects documentary discussing the best points of the film, and a question and answer session with the original cast, among others. Like I said at the outset, I genuinely wanted to like "Lost in Space," but I found it tedious, overlong, and largely annoying except for the special effects, which were outstanding.
on August 15, 2001
I don't know who William Hurt owed a favor to, but someone really took advantage of his friendship. Other excellent thespians displayed in this intergalactic meltdown include Gary Oldman ("Sid and Nancy," "The Professional"), Mimi Rogers ("X-Files") and Heather Graham ("Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me").
In this version of Irwin Allen's campy 60's tv show, the Robinsons are a bickering bunch of nitwits. Joey from "Friends" flies them across the galaxy and loses them, while Claudia from "Party of Five" complains almost nonstop that he didn't lose them enough. Or something like that. They battle biomechanical spiders, the evil Dr. Smith (Oldman, of course) and fly through holes in time, space and the plot. Somewhere in there, they pick up an orange, bulging eyed, hideous space freak they call the "Blawrp." It's a CGI-rendered monstrosity even less convincing than the Bloop from the original show (played by a chimp in a fur helmet with ears).
To point out just one of the many problems with this film- there's no plot justification for having a Blawrp or a Bloop. He joins the story and contributes zilch. But that didn't stop the actors, so why should it stop a special effects monkey? The Blawrp is supposed to be oh-so-cute, and everyone in the cast gives him those awed-and-in-love faces, when they really should toss him out the airlock.
Which is where this movie should go. It's noisy, annoying and makes little, if any, sense. The script is self-consciously cutesy, and the pat character bits and dysfunctional family motif wear out their welcome after about the fifth time Dr. Robinson disappoints little Will, or the third argument between... oh who cares anymore?
on June 20, 2000
Along with 'Godzilla' this was something of a recent watershed - as a couple of the DVD-extras attest, this film is first and foremost a technical showcase. It's visually dazzling - virtually every shot features some form of CGI effect, and the sets and costumes all reek of money. But, and this is a big but, there isn't actually a film underneath it all. Seeming like the first three episodes of a bad cartoon series, the film is just a big, hollow mess, with a needlessly complex plot and surprisingly little of the original show (which, come to think of it, isn't necessarily a bad thing). Looking back, I can't think of a single line or situation that stood out as being particularly dramatic, witty or memorable, except perhaps Mimi Rogers' costume, and the gravelly, twenty-five-cigarettes-a-day voice of the younger daughter, which surely was also a special effect. On the other hand, it's likeable enough, and chunters along without being too dull, and the cast, although they have very little to do, is interesting. William Hurt is a 'proper' actor, and I can't actually remember anything of any import that he did in this film, apart from argue with Matt LeBlanc. Interestingly, at the second cinema in which I saw this, the audience burst into laughter every time he appeared - as with the rest of the 'Friends' he is so inextricably linked with his character type that we won't let him do anything else. For the guys in the audience Mimi Rogers is like your best friend's glamourous mother, Heather Graham is Heather Graham, and the aforementioned vocally-afflicted Lacey Chabert will make you feel slightly uneasy about fancying somebody so young.