Like many science fiction fans, I grew up watching reruns of the old Irwin Allen show, Lost in Space. It wasn’t a show I was a huge fan of, but something nice to have one when there was nothing else to do. I never would have thought somebody would have made this into a movie, much less get actors like William Hurt and Gary Oldman to star in it, but obviously I was wrong. If I were still a kid, I probably would have enjoyed this film, but because I’m not, I found it to be a campy, somewhat painful, and largely forgettable experience.
But that was my first impression. To really appreciate it I had to remind myself that this was a family film with science fiction and action elements, so even though I didn’t particularly care for this movie, I think that kids will really enjoy it.
In the distant future, mankind has depleted just about every one of Earth’s natural resources to the point where recycling no longer works as an option. Humanity needs a new home, and it needs it now. Enter Dr. John Robinson and his family. He plans to pilot the Jupiter 2 with his family to the nearest inhabitable world, Alpha Prime. Although hyper drives are a reality at this point, navigation is problematic at best, so the Robinsons will travel in hyper sleep and once they reach Alpha Prime will construct a hyper gate, allowing for safe travel from Earth to the new planet.
However, some groups don’t want to leave the planet, and will do anything possible to sabotage the trip. They bribe Dr. Zachary Smith to destroy the craft and the Robinsons. His plan goes awry and he ends up becoming lost in space with his would-be victims. Now the Robinsons, with the help of Major Don West, must find a way back to Earth, or else stay adrift in the vast sea of infinity forever.
The movie’s emotional crux lies in the relationship between John and his family, specifically his son, the hyper-intelligent Will. Like most cliché scientist-fathers, John spends far too much time working on his experiments and far too little being a father. While this affects his children in different ways, it hits hardest with Will, who idolizes his dad. Will ends up the real hero of the movie, solving most of the problems they encounter on their voyage, and the denouement hinges on John’s acknowledgment of his son’s genius.
The girls, on the other hand, don’t quite receive the same amount of attention. The oldest daughter, Judy’s (Heather Graham), only purpose in the movie is to be an ice queen waiting for the right man to thaw her out, and the youngest daughter, Penny (Lacey Chabert), seems content to make snarky video diary entries where she talks about herself in the third person; she finds a substitute for her father’s affection in a space monkey.
Lost in Space suffers from the same problems as most hastily put-together action films: one-dimensional characters, bad dialogue, and a smorgasbord of cringe-worthy one-liners. And, oddly enough, it’s rather dated. The ecological reason behind the Robinson’s flight feels right at home with the Nineties; not that we don’t have concerns about the environment today, but there’s a fervor to it that we now lack. If this movie were made today Earth would probably be uninhabitable because of global warming.
And the politics behind the separatists is baffling; what, exactly, they want to secede from and why the flight of the Jupiter 2 is so threatening is unclear—or so stupid that I’ve blocked it from memory. They simply provide a flimsy excuse for some lukewarm drama.
The movie is more science fantasy than science fiction, and while there’s nothing wrong with that, the whole reason for the science fantasy backdrop—a sense of wonder and the fantastic—is largely missing from this film; at least when it comes to older viewers. As I said before, it’s probably fun for kids, but I doubt it’ll do much for their parents.
The movie is presented in 1080p High Definition Widescreen in 16×9 aspect ratio. There are two audio tracks: DTS-HD Master Audio English 5.1 and Dolby Digital Spanish 5.1. English, French, and Spanish subtitles are also provided. In terms of quality, the movie looks fine. The sound level tended to be a bit low, and I had to turn my television up fairly loud to hear it, but other than that there were no problems with the transfer.
There are quite a few extras on this disk, but none of them really stand out except for the Q&A segment with the original cast of Lost in Space. Fans of extras, though, should be happy with the amount on this disk.
Commentary track with Director Stephen Hopkins and Screenwriter Akiva Goldsman
Commentary track with Visual Effects Supervisors Angus Bickerton and Lauren Ritchie, Director of Photography Peter Levy, Editor Ray Lovejoy, and Producer Carla Fry
Building the Special Effects featurette
The Future of Space Travel featurette
Apollo Four Fourty Lost in Space Music Video
Q&A with the Original Cast – TV Years
I can think of worse situations than being lost in space with Mimi Rogers; too bad all those other people had to tag along. All kidding aside, this is a fun movie for kids, but not for their parents. Not recommended.
New Line Cinema presents Lost in Space. Directed by: Stephen Hopkins. Starring: Gary Oldman, William Hurt, Matt LeBlanc, Mimi Rogers, Heather Graham, Lacey Chabert, and Jack Johnson. Written by: Akiva Goldsman. Running time: 130 Minutes. Rating: PG-13. Released on Blu-ray: September 7, 2010.