Lost in Space

I’m not old enough to have seen the Lost in Space TV series. And though many of the people going to see Lost in Space will have enjoyed the series, I figure there are going to be a lot of people like me who have never seen it either. Knowing the TV series is not one of the prerequisites for the movie though. There’s only one prerequisite for the movie: The willingness to turn off your brain.

Lost in Space begins with a loud and eyebrow-raising space dogfight that had me at the edge of my seat. With the adrenaline up, I thought I was going to be in for a roller coaster ride of a movie, but things slow down. >From here we get some background story and learn about the Robinson family and why they are planning to leave Earth for Alpha Prime.

It seems that Earth’s resources are being depleted at a horrific rate and in a short time, the Earth will no longer be able to support human life. The only way to save the human race is to move and inhabit another planet. That planet–with water and a suitable atmosphere–is Alpha Prime. However, in order to get people off Earth in a timely manner, there needs to be a quick way to get them across the galaxy. This is where the Robinsons fall into the story.

The Robinsons are to travel by space ship to Alpha Prime and set up a jump gate – much like the one in Stargate, but in space – so that it can match up with the jump gate being built on Earth. Once both gates are completed, humans can be shipped across the galaxy via hyperspace and arrive at Alpha Prime instantaneously. Without the gates, though, any hyperspace travel will shoot the travelers into some unknown position in space – as the Robinsons are quick to find out. The Robinson family is composed of: John (William Hurt) the father and professor, Maureen (Mimi Rogers) the mom and professor, Judy (Heather Graham) the oldest daughter and doctor, Penny (Lacey Chabert) the younger daughter, and Will (Jack Johnson) the son.

The Robinsons will travel 10 years in the ship Jupiter 2, which will be piloted by Major Don West (Matt LeBlanc). Major West is taken straight out of the movie Top Gun, spilling embarrassing lines as “Rock ‘n Roll!” and “Putting the pedal to the metal!”

Unbeknownst to the family, the evil Doctor Smith has been left for dead aboard the Jupiter 2 after he sabotages the mission to Alpha Prime. Sixteen hours into the flight all Hell breaks loose; John and Major West wake up to discover that the Jupiter 2 is trapped in the Sun’s gravitational pull and they are soon going to go melting into the Sun.

Major West flies the Jupiter 2 through the Sun with the hyperdrive engines. Yes, you read that right, he flies through the Sun. The drawback of the hyperdrive again is that the ship is shot into some unknown part of space. Or is it?

The family soon finds that they are floating next to a man-made space ship that looks much like the Event Horizon. But, I was relieved to find that it was not the dreaded Event Horizon, it is the Proteus. From here the movie has two more “acts” or parts. One includes exploring the Proteus and the other is exploring an icy planet.

The last few minutes of the film make no apparent sense. It includes time travel and some more hyperspace jumping. If you have seen Lost in Space and understand what was going on with the time travel, please let me know what it’s all about.

Smith is supposed to be the main antagonist in Lost in Space but a few others crop up, maybe unintentionally. And those would be the family members themselves. The Robinsons are not quite a close knit family. Actually, they are the poster family for dysfunctional families in America. In Lost in Space, the family spends more time arguing with each other than with Doctor Smith.

Lost in Space has two major flaws. First, the script by Akiva Goodsman is horrible. For those of you who don’t know the name Akiva Goodsman, he’s the guy who wrote the awful follow-ups to the first two Batman films. Batman and Robin contains the worst writing I’ve ever heard. This writer has no clue about how to write dialogue. He only knows how to write one-liners and short quips– and even these made me cringe.

Second, Stephen Hopkins directs the movie. Hopkins is the director who brought us Blown Away and Ghost and the Darkness. I’ve only seen Blown Away and that was an uneven thriller, at best. Lost in Space suffers from the same problem that Hopkin’s Blown Away did: the direction is very uneven. He can certainly get the adrenaline pumping during action scenes, but he is not able to take that energy and move it into some of the non-action scenes. Hopkins has no clue about pacing.

The actors are OK. William Hurt is somewhat bland as John Robinson, but heck, I can see why, he’s an egghead like myself. Mimi Rogers does what she can with her “Come home safe, John” role. Heather Graham, whom I loved in Boogie Nights, gets a throwaway part here. She really doesn’t have much to do. Lacey Chabert, who looks like a miniature version of Neve Campbell with a ‘magic-marker as eye-liner look’ and Daffy Duck voice, is a toss up between really annoying and really really annoying. Jack Johnson is actually pretty worthy as Will Robinson, but he doesn’t get enough screen time. Matt LeBlanc is Joey from Friends in space, he’s not doing too much new here. The big performance is from Gary Oldman and he is not given enough time either.

One small thing that Lost in Space suffers from is what I call the “Ewok Syndrome.” This is where the moviemakers throw in a cute creature into a movie just so that they can sell cute dolls on the after-market. For Return of the Jedi it was the Ewoks, for Lost in Space it’s a space monkey of sorts named Blawp, which serves no purpose and even detracts from the film. New Line just wants to sell Blarp dolls to little kids who find Blarp cute.

So, what’s good about Lost in Space? It’s special effects, sets, landscapes, and fun factor. The press releases for Lost in Space boast that it has some 700-plus special effects. I didn’t bother to count, but the special effects are pretty impressive. The sets by Norman Garwood are beautiful and very futuristic. The landscapes are nothing but awe-inspiring; they bring back memories of the landscapes from The Fifth Element. And the fun factor is definitely there if you ignore the lame story and unnecessarily convoluted plot.

In the end, with all of its flaws, Lost in Space is fun to see. But, please walk into the theatre with the brain in the “off” position. Don’t Miss Lost in Space. Danger Will Robinson! Lost in Space is a mindless fun movie!

Edited by Cher Johnson.