As a lover of sci-fiction, I’m truly surprised this film didn’t continue on with more sequels. Being based on the 1960’s hit tv series Lost In Space by Irwin Allen, where everything was very colorful, and dialogue was quite intelligent and witty, to a more dark, industrial look where the dialogue is filled with trivial one-liners, the movie had a lot to live up to. But of course, it always comes down to money. And harsh critics.
Had the grossed income been higher, there was plans for all the signed actors to be apart of a film trilogy. How grand that would’ve been! Despite what the critics thought, I thought it was funny and edgy, but had the potential to be fantastic had the dialogue been scripted better. Think about it, what’s not to love about an intelligent family taking off in space with an enemy aboard ship and getting lost? The stories would’ve been endless…Apparently, in the TV show back in the day, there was a lot of banter between the two brilliant minds of opposing forces: young Will Robinson and Dr. Zachary Smith, but there was not enough of this shown in the film unfortunately. It would’ve delighted audiences with laughter, appealing to every age.
Directed by Stephen Hopkins, written by Akiva Goldsman, and produced by Mark W. Koch, Stephen Hopkins, Akiva Goldsman, and Carla Fry. There were some cool actors in this film, that I felt needed more recognition. For one, Gary Oldman as the villain Dr. Zachary Smith, (who always brings characters to life); secondly, Lacey Chabert as the sassy, theatrical teenager, Penny Robinson; and last but not least, Matt Leblanc as the studly Major Don West.
To be honest, I never realized just how in shape Matt Leblanc was at this point of his career until I’d seen this film. On the hit TV show Friends where he played Joey Tribbiani, a man with much charm but not much brains, you can see the resemblance between his two characters. Except Major West is majorly “rough around the edges”…and looks badass.
Let me paint a picture for you… the time is now 2058, and technology has advanced so far that humans are capable of travelling to distant stars, though no one has dared to travel to the extremes in search of new live-able planets. That in until now… Professor John Robinson (starring William Hurt) along with his wife, Professor Maureen Robinson (starring Mimi Rogers) decide to take their family along for a space cruise through the unknown, but their mission is sabotaged by their physician, Dr. Smith (Oldman), who just so happens to be a spy. As luck would have it, Dr. Smith became stranded on their ship leaving the crew with problematic situations at times, while other times he was exactly the help they needed. But they recruited the best pilot they could’ve asked for, Major West (Leblanc), and a humorous mechanical robot who loves to say, “Danger Will Robinson!”.
So while the whole premise of the movie is about finding hope amongst the stars in order to save humanity since Earth is losing resources fast, it ends up being about how Will Robinson wants his father to realize how precious love is… or how precious he is. Something to that extent. Whatever the case, the movie is filled with both action and adventure through space, and a joy to watch. I enjoyed it, though like I said before, it lacked the potential to be something grand.
My favorite parts were the “Penny Vision” segments where Penny Robinson would poetically journalize her life into her watch. I could clearly see the future Mean Girls Gretchen Wieners before her time, but in “emo” mode. Compared to John Robinson’s hyper-engine responsible for the ship’s ability to jump through space, or Will Robinson’s uncanny ability to form a friendship with the robot and recreate him, or even the time machine that Will Robinson kept going on about (which surprisingly proved to be true eventually). I still find her watch to be the coolest invention of all. All I could think about was how much I wanted one during the film.
My other favorite parts were when the camera angles were shown through the inside of the ship, from the perspective of the crew aboard, and you felt like you were taken along for the ride. I would love to see a 3-D ride be made of Lost In Space, how dope would that be? Almost would have the feel of the Back to the Future ride in Universal Studios, but all space and all mystery…
I found a line that stuck with me as a child since I first saw this film, said by Dr. Smith, “Evil knows evil.” Even at a young age, I understood that quote and I understand it even more now as an adult. Another great line said by Dr. Smith is when Major West forces him to tag along, he says “I’m a doctor. Not a space explorer.” Homage to Dr. McCoy in Star Trek (1966), when he says “I’m a doctor. Not a brick layer.”
Heather Graham also stars in this film as Dr. Judy Robinson, whom Major West has the “hots” for, and is the engineer of the ship. But apparently the director had his eye of her as well, since the two were dating during filming. It’s cool to know that most of the original cast members from the original TV show were cast as cameos in this film. But I think the most surprisingly cool fact about this film is that the 1960’s Lost in Space show was set in 1997, which is when the film’s production began. Coincidence? I think not!
Overall, I think this movie was a hoot to watch, and I found the idea of it to be exquisite. I give this movie 6.5/10 stars. When the movie ends, you begin to question what happened to them. Where did they end up? When? What will become of Dr. Smith? And what’s with the alien monkey, Blarp? All questions that never get answered unfortunately. But a new Netflix show is in the works and I’m looking forward to seeing it. So keep your eyes out for it!
Fun Facts to Know:
- Sean Patrick Flanery was originally cast as Don West, but he was let go while the project was still in rehearsal because it was thought that he too closely resembled William Hurt. The part was also offered to Matthew Perry before it went to his Friends (1994) costar Matt LeBlanc.
- A huge production, this movie occupied 12 separate soundstages when it was being filmed at London’s Shepperton Studios.
- Over 3,500 names are listed in the end credits.
- Gary Oldman was the first member of the cast to sign on, jumping at the chance to appear in a family film.
- Dick Tufeld reprises his role from Lost in Space (1965) as the voice of the Robot.
- Despite opening in theaters on April 3, Lost in Space (1998) was the first new film of 1998 to open at #1 at the box office. This was due to the incredible 15-week reign of Titanic (1997) at the top spot, which began in late December. Since it finally knocked “Titanic” out of the #1 spot on the box office charts, for a short time after its release the movie was given the nickname “The Iceberg”.