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Frankly, I don't think this movie is as bad as some people make it out to
be. I like the early episodes of the original series (particulary the
first six), when the show had a more serious tone (and before Jonathan
Harris sabotaged it by turning up the comic antics as Dr. Smith) and it's
nice to see the film stay closer to that serious tone and not emulate the
more campy aspects of the series from its later episodes. The cast is good
for the most part and I love the visual FX.
However, once the Jupiter 2 crashes on the planet and we get caught up in the time travel older Will Robinson bit, that's when the movie falls apart completely. And the biggest mistake of all is that the older Will Robinson is not played by original Will Robinson, Bill Mumy, even though he badly wanted to play the part. Having listened to the comments of the director on why he didn't cast Mumy on the DVD, I have to say his explanation doesn't wash. Especially when both he and the scriptwriter concede that the device of using the "older Will Robinson" didn't work on the screen as it did in writing. It never occurs to them that maybe the scene would have worked if this new character sprung on us was someone with a definable connection to the old show.
Actually, I was quite surprised at how much fun I thought this movie
was. Hardly perfect by any measure and, sure, there were some elements
that were intrusive, but I found it to be quite faithful to the TV show
- it used plots and elements from the early episodes. Even with the
newer designs, they incorporated older aspects - the planet REALLY
looked like a better version of one of their old sets.
Furthermore, Oldman managed to peg Dr. Smith perfectly, taking in all the old camp elements and putting them to very good use - even using some old catch phrases in different ways.
As diversionary, light sci-fi adventure goes, I thought this was great and I'm usually very picky about this kind of thing. It was fun and a pretty good kids' movie.
The only thing really missing was Billy Mumy.
Dr. John Robinson (William Hurt) is taking his family into deep space to find a life-supporting planet for the human race. Things on earth are deteriorating, to say the least. Going along with him are his scientist wife Maureen (Mimi Rogers), his brilliant daughter, Judy (Heather Graham) and his equally intelligent children Penny and Will. Needing a good pilot, Dr. Robinson nabs hotshot airman Mark West (Matt LaBlanc) to fly their spaceship. Evil Doctor Smith (Gary Oldman) tries to sabotage the vessel but ends up getting caught on board. Amid the ensuing chaos, the ship goes off course and gets lost. Between battling spider-like creatures and their own killer robot, the Robinsons still hope to reach their destination. Will they? This movie starts off with a bang and ends with a whimper. The problem? Well, it is not the terrific cast. Hurt, Rogers and Oldman are wonderful in their respective roles, while Graham and LaBlanc delight the audience with their wit and charm as the couple who provide the movie's romantic elements. All other cast members are quite fine as well. The production looks nice, too, with great costumes, sets, and special effects. So, that leaves the uneven script. It starts off well, with a quick look at the Robinsons' quest and the plotting of Dr. Smith. There are even some great lines, such as the one Maureen hurls at John and Mark, as they are sparring. "If you guys are done hosing down the deck with testosterone..." had me laughing heartily. But, it all just fizzles somewhere in the middle and ends up being utter nonsense, a plot without a cause. What a shame. Those of us who loved the sixties television series deserved better. If you are partial to any of the cast members, from Hurt to Graham to Oldman, do make time for this film, someday. They are the reason to see this movie, for they are a joy to watch, even in a film as lame as this one.
I liked the movie, but I fear it suffered from the same disease that Star
Trek The Motion Picture suffered from - too grandiose a concept, too grand
an undertaking, too big an effects budget and enough plot for several
movies. Lets see, we have the dysfunctional family becomes functional
we have the evil traitor in the med lab plot, the time travel plot, the
metallic spider plot, the sexual tension between Dr. Judy and Major Don
plot. This puppy had more subplots than a season of X-Files.
It was great to see Mark Goddard in a role with some meat on it. However Angela Cartwright and Marta Kristen were given extremely short shrift. And Bill Mumy and Jonathan Harris should have been involved. I know Jonathan Harris doesn't do cameos, but dammit, find him a role! And as for not getting Bill Mumy to play future Will Robinson - as far as I'm concerned, that singlehandedly reduced this flick from a great movie merely a good one. If they had enough money for the hideous yellow excuse for merchandising (how blatant can you get?), they sure had enough to hire the full original cast.
I think the major problem was the lack of closeness within the family unit.
writers choose that as the overall arc and that was a deadly mistake.
needed to see this family battle the unknown enties in space, rather
I was not interested in seeing Dr. Robinson finally make amends with his son. By spending so much time on the 'family' problems, we negated any sense of adventure.
The plot should have been about something space, a distant planet instead of this internal examination. Lastly Dr. Smith was just awful. I love Gary Oldman but this role just wasn't one of his best. If nothing else Smith was a pain in the butt, the writers saw as evil and turning him into a spider and having the little spiders eat him was just plain stupid.
Once again the fault lies in a poor "Hollywood" script.
I don't think Lost in Space was a bad movie. Is it a movie to be honored the all-time best? No, it's not. There are flaws in this movie, but I don't care too much. The movie is about a family, the Robinsons trying to go to the other habitable planet in the galaxy. They do all right until the villain, Spider Smith tries to kill the family and he ruins the navigational system. Now the Robinsons are lost. The acting is OK. Some of the actors did a great job such as Matt LeBlanc and Gary Oldman. The rest did OK. The special effects are not as good as movies from the time period such as Armageddon or Godzilla. The effects are good, though. I was disappointed in the writing. Akiva Goldsman is a respected writer with talent. For a bad script, all the actors did a good job. The music is pretty good. I liked the electronic soundtrack. I give this movie a 7/10 because I liked the space scenery, the gadgets, and the action.
Now, I don't think it was IMDb Top 250 material, not by far but it still should have been up in the "6"s. First let's look at the basic for the movie. Lost in Space was a television show from 1965 that was very low budget. I. Allen had to work from a shoestring and it showed. The show was a "kiddies" show, something that the kids enjoyed while Mom and Dad was able to snicker at the goofiness of it, (but not too loudly or the kids might get mad). Then the show progress into one that centered around three characters, that of Will Robinson, Dr. Smith, and the Robot. Mr. And Mrs. Robinson, Major West, and the girls were just so much window dressing and fodder. This is what the director of the movie, Lost In Space, had to work with. Either he kept as close to the original show as he could or he struck out in a totally different direction, such as what happen when they made Wanted Dead Or Alive for the big screen. It's not high drama, but then neither was the original show. Comparing it to the TV show, I believe that the director keep to the same spirit and I say it's not a bad rendering.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
(Warning: spoilers ahead)
Like many mature viewers I had enjoyed the 60's TV series before this film
came out so I was prepared for kooky cardboard sets, an even kookier
robot, and getting a new nadir of human mendacity revealed each week in my
shameful anti-hero, the despicable cunning Dr. Smith - oh such Danger Will
Robinson! As a teenage boy back then, I also registered the attractive
mother Robinson, and even more so the disturbingly beautiful elder
Robinson; I have heard that I am not alone in this.
The film goes to great efforts to reverse all those impressions! It starts by throwing some of the most mind-blowing space battle special effects I have seen; the producers are obviously guys who have learned their lessons from 2001 Space Odyssey and Star Wars, and who have all the computing power they need. Silicon Graphics is a computer manufacturer who gets its name into the script, go figure.
Is this the point to carp at the unreality of the sounds made in space where you really can't hear any "whoosh" or "boom" as things explode, or at the fighters that manoeuvre in 3D, aim weapons and even nudge one another, all by manual pilot control ? Nah, that's an accepted style these days so let it pass.
The puerile homophobic dialog between the pilots (after their fighters contact in flight: "Does that mean we are going steady together now?") I chose to forgive in view of the magnificent graphics, but unfortunately such lines come back again and again in the miscast trying-to-be macho Major Don West's (Matt LeBlanc) passes at the cold-fish elder Robinson daughter Judy (Heather Graham).
Sadly it quickly becomes evident that Major Don's pursuit of Judy is to be a running subtheme through the movie. I say sadly because this is not Hepburn and Bogart, nor a school prom B-movie, and the characterisation neither serves the movie nor the viewer. (Don to Judy: "I'll be happy to let you investigate my dimensions" - oh puh-lease!) There simply is no chemistry between these two and their lines are a yawn because we don't need them to romance in this movie.
I said that the producers make great efforts, and those on space graphics are successful. Other efforts are on the family relationships, so much so that I became convinced that Walt Disney scriptwriters must have been involved. The younger Robinson children characters work well: I liked the sulky rebellious teenage daughter Penny (Lacey Chabert) though the dramatic device of her wrist-worn video diary was strained, and I was rooting for the son Will (Jack Johnson) who nearly makes a time machine for a school project, and repeatedly saves the day by tinkering with or remote-controlling the robot, who has grown from the capable but relay-filled Robbie of the TV series (adopted from the pre-computing Forbidden Planet movie of 1956) into a mightier cargo-handling monster, a Rambler-Crane model we are told, that owes much to its brother that Sigourney Weaver drives in the second Aliens movie I saw. This Robbie is bigger but less interesting for all its weaponry; by this time we have a right to expect more from a robot than this one delivers.
Unfortunately the movie's main familial theme of How Can Father Robinson Show That He Really Loves His Son Will left me cold, though it may go down well with a certain kind of American audience. This is worse than just a failed theme, it is supposed to motivate the final denouement that I can't spoil for you because I still don't understand it! Suffice to say that it involves time travel (more by machinus ex deia than deus ex machina) with by now rather overloaded special effects, that serve to gloss over with thunder/lightning/earthquakes such paradoxes as persons meeting their time-travelled selves, that obscuration also having become a Hollywood cliche since movies like Philadelphia Experiment and Final Countdown. A shame because intelligent time-travel themes have provided, and will continue to provide, some wonderful movie scripts.
The whole movie is, like the Robinsons' spaceship, a concatenation of expensive items that are individually impressive and collectively ineffective. Not to be outdone are the horrid space spiders. These seem to be downplayed to limit their horror potential; I think we get just a tiny glimpse of blue (?) gore as a spider leg gets chopped. We think the Robinsons escape from the spiders, but in true Hollywood horror tradition we were only supposed to think that and one spider makes a surprising return in the denouement, and I can't explain that either. It is actually very strange to see a "thing" that seems to have strayed into the movie from another film set (The Fly ? The Seventh Seal ?) too late in the script to be meaningful in the plot, and apparently also with its horror potential kept down, I suppose to keep a juvenile audience rating.
Yet another yawn item to mention in the movie is a computer generated monkey Blarp that is a baby "she" (we are told, perhaps because a she-chimp is less demanding to model ?). For all her blinky cartoon eyes, Blarp fails to impress me as cute or useful, and she also seems like a character that strayed in by mistake from another movie.
After watching all the movie action I feel I was served an assembly of highly crafted but utterly unoriginal elements. Yet for the earlier space graphics, which nearly rate up there with those in Starship Troopers, I can allow the rest as entertainment.
Can you believe that the end credits really spoiled the film for me? I don't think I am peculiarly sensitive about end credits, and I am as likely as anyone to leave the movie theater as soon as they start scrolling. But in this movie the end credits are used as an opportunity to dump a lot of inappropriate music and silly graphical effects, to no good purpose. In the light of some truly fine craftsmanship and set design that went into this movie, that ending was a cheapening that was almost insulting.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
When Hollywood turns to the TV Mine to see what it can dig up, the
general rule is to try to do something which recaptures the essence of
the TV original, albeit tweaked in some sort of fashion so as to bring
it up to date. But sometimes there is an attempt to give a twist to the
original - to dress it in clothes which are not so much new as entirely
different. And so we have Starsky and Hutch as a comedy, Bewitched
actually featuring a TV remake of the original but with a real witch,
and so on.
Lost In Space has, thankfully, forgone the overriding two-set (one interior, one exterior) studio-bound obviousness of its TV progenitor. It has also lost Robbie the Robot (his update is a lot less sympathetic than the original), and weaselly serial complainer Dr Zachary Smith. Much as I enjoyed Jonathan Harris' portrayal, it was essentially a comedy role, albeit with the capacity for introducing the element of dramatic tension in a serial drama which was so resolutely formulaic.
Gary Oldman's Dr Smith is an entirely different animal. The TV Smith was irksome, a nuisance, and could cause some damage. The movie Smith is dark, dangerous, and potentially fatal.
There are plot elements introduced which are fun and, in some respects, original. Most of the visuals are excellent (although I found the cute but hugely unconvincing CGI critter irritating). Most of the cast are good (with some interesting dynamics between the characters), although I found Lacey Chabert's squeaky pre-teen even more irritating than the CGI thingie.
On the whole, there is quite a lot here for science fiction space opera fans to like.
The story isn't that bad, some of the scenes are really good. Totally
different than the original Lost in Space.
The casting of the characters is my only complaint. The children were excellent but the adults were not. William Hurt and Matthew LeBouf do not fit well together. Mr Smith was the only adult character that was believable. Still, it kept my interest and I enjoyed the story very much.
Too bad the casting couldn't have been better because this was actually a very good movie and could have had the possibility for sequels.
I give it a 7 of 10.
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