- Directed by Stephen Hopkins
- April 3, 1998
After the Earth experiences an environmental calamity, the Robinson family is sent on a mission to a distant world. Now after an act of sabotage they are struggling to survive and get to their destination.
Lost in Space is a big screen adaption of the original ’65 to ‘68 Lost in Space science fiction series. I have heard that is often the case fans have opinions on this movie. Personally I enjoyed it but then again I was never a big fan of the TV show. It was just too goofy for me. I am not a big fan of camp, and that show could get very campy. This has no such issue.
I had avoided this movie since it first came out largely because of Matt LeBlanc as well as my perception of the original series. Nothing against the guy as a human being but I just don’t like the show Friends and that’s all I could think about whenever I saw him. Admittedly I knew him as Vinny Verducci before he was Joey Tribbiani but Friends was everywhere and at the time seeing any of the actors was like nails on a chalkboard for me.
Having said all that and aired my disdain for a comedy series and the emotional pain that Friends caused me no longer being an issue I can say that he did well enough in this movie. He certainly showed no potential to be an action star, but he was a good supporting player in a more serious piece of work. LeBlanc plays Major Don West, taking over for Mark Goddard who cameos as West’s superior officer. West is a cocky and at points arrogant pilot who is tasked with what he views as a babysitting gig once the original pilot is killed by terrorists.
The film also stars William Hurt plays Professor John Robinson, taking over for Guy Williams. Mimi Rogers is Professor Maureen Robinson and takes over for June Lockhart who cameos as Will’s principal. Jack Johnson is young genius Will Robinson taking over for Billy Mumy. Heather Graham takes over from Marta Kristen in the role of Judy Robinson. Judy is a doctor here. Kristen cameos as Reporter #1. Lacey Chabert is Penny Robinson and her predecessor in the role Angela Cartwright cameos as Reporter #2. Gary Oldman is Dr. Zachary Smith and does not play him as a potential pedophile with Jonathan Harris nowhere to be found. Dick Tufeld returns as the voice of Robot.
They have plenty of nods to the series with actors from the original show making cameos and the design of Jupiter One mimicking the design of Jupiter II in the series and eventually going with a robot design very close to the original. I give them props for updating the designs of the ship as well as Robot. They mined from their own history and most reboots/reimaginings do not do that. They were not afraid of the source.
From what I am familiar with of the original series they do a good job of making the characters similar here as to how they were portrayed there. Oldman’s Smith is the only variation. He is much more of a villain that Harris’s version was. Their interactions and general dynamic fit with a few updates for the time this movie came out. A change I do appreciate is that Judy was not portrayed as young as she was in the show. It keeps the interactions with West from being creepy. In the show she was supposedly in her very early twenties but was portrayed as a teenager.
Dr. Smith is an agent for a mutant terrorist group called Global Sedition (sedition is a noun meaning conduct or speech inciting people to rebel against the authority of a state or monarch) whose ultimate goal has something to do with preventing colonization of other planets for humanity. Apparently we all gotta die on Earth. He works as the mission doctor and is the ultimate saboteur of the Jupiter II.
I draw issue with the finale. Dr. Smith is portrayed as a jerk and a greedy opportunist here. He supports the terrorist ideology. My issue is with him going from being like that to dreams of world domination of the human race. During the film the crew of the Jupiter II encounters strange space spiders and Smith is wounded by one. This begins a physical transformation into a human/spider hybrid. I certainly get him being willing to use Will to get home but suddenly dreaming of controlling a planet seems like a huge leap for the character.
After the initial sabotage, things get rolling once they encounter a space anomaly. I just don’t understand why you would after encountering a space anomaly fly right into it to check things out. Maybe it’s because I’ve been weaned on Star Trek but a little investigation before you go plunging headfirst through a special doorway seems intelligent.
It was clear that they expected a sequel. At least that’s the impression I am left with. There’s a strange alien ship docked with the human vessel they encounter and those spiders apparently came from that ship. How everything connects together is never explained. For the purposes of the story here it doesn’t matter but where they came from and why they boarded the human rescue ship seems like a plot element set up for the next film.
The ‘90s were a low point in my opinion for special effects. The old ways were on their way out and computer effects were becoming the norm. Unfortunately the computer effects of the time even then did not look as good as the old processes. The creatures and the space background in any Star Wars or Star Trek film that preceded this movie looks head and shoulders above what they did here. The Bloop, a creature that was in the original series, in particular looks like a better than most videogame graphic from the time but not something of film quality.
Lost in Space is an enjoyable piece of fluff. It’s not a must see but if you do happen to catch it you’ll like it.