Lost In Space (1998) – Stephen Hopkins

 

The next big adventure in the Sci-Fi Chronicles book is the big-screen reboot of the classic 60s television series, Lost in Space. Boasting an all-star cast, William Hurt, Gary Oldman, Mimi Rogers, Heather Graham, Lacy Chabert, and Matt LeBlanc, the film follows the family Robinson as they leave the dying earth to prepare the distant planet, Alpha Prime for colonization, aboard the Jupiter 2, unknowingly the also carry the duplicitous Dr. Zachary Smith (Oldman).

Oldman gets to chew scenery as a very melodramatic Doctor Smith, very much in keeping with Jonathan Harris’ original interpretation of the character. The Jupiter’s launch exterior looks a lot like its original design with some 90s updates. There are some moments that feel a little low-budget, but it’s the story that really holds the film back. This could have been something, but perhaps, in general, this story is more suited to the small screen where they could explore new adventures each week.

Things seem to start off pretty well for the mission, but when the ship is sabotaged, they are marooned far from Earth, and trying to survive as they remain lost in space…

Hurt takes on the role of father, John Robinson, who is accompanied by his wife, Maureen (Rogers) and kids, Judy (Graham), Penny (Chabert) and Will (Jack Johnson). They are joined by pilot, and love interest for Judy, Major Don West (LeBlanc).

As the group struggles to survive, they discover threats and wonder everywhere, the film also plays with some typical science fiction tropes, time travel, ghost ships, and strange, dangerous aliens as well as new cartoon-like alien pets.

jupiter2

The only one who seems to be having any real fun in the film is Oldman, and the special effects, at the time, were pretty decent, though now, the visual effects, especially on the creatures really didn’t age well.

The themes explored are fairly generic as well, those of family, of fathers failing sons, and redemption of same. The family that gets lost together, stays together apparently.

Watch for a cameo by series stars June Lockhart, Dick Tufield, Mark Goddard, Marta Kristen and Angela Cartwright. And of course, Robot (voiced by Tufield) gets to say that iconic line, one last time, once Will gets to upgrade him.

The final act, with the temporal bubble and Smith and Will could have worked, but, they should have gone with practical effects instead of computer-generated ones, it may have given the monster a little more weight.

I think this is one that needs to be revisted as a television series, as mentioned above. There’s a severe lack of family oriented shows out there that everyone can get something out of. I think, if done right, this could be that, while still dealing with science fiction themes and tropes.

Oh well… moving on.

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