Eye For Film >> Movies >> Lost In Space (1998) Film Review
Lost In Space
Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray
Effects aren't everything. What about characterisation, storyline, plexcred? In the escapist section of the fun dept, why snip knicker elastic? You can take a campy Sixties TV series too literally if you don't watch out. This is big screen entertainment, based on the aforementioned dudescope sci-fi spoof, which means techno dazzlement and computer wizardry.
In the year 2058, the world has abused itself to knacker hell. Twenty years on, they say, and it's hasta la vista Earthlings. The only hope is space colonisation. The Houston family Robinson has been chosen to Mayflower the galaxy. Prof John (William Hurt) is Science City's pet whitecoat, with a personal stake in the success of the mission. Maureen (Mimi Rogers) makes mumsy and wifely comments, with a stoical, supportive toss of the head. Judy (Heather Graham) is sexy in a cream tea kind of way, infinitely sensible and over the age of consent. The kids are closer to the railway tracks. Penny (Lacey Chabert) is teen fresh, with mountains of attitude and a cool line in parental putdowns, while Will (Jack Johnson) is dad at 12, only smarter.
Adding testosterone is Major Don West (Matt LeBlanc), an insufferably conceited space pilot, who is chosen to drive "Jupiter 2" to Alpha Prime, the only habitable planet this side of God's sitting room. Don and John clash, natch! Boy's stuff. John, being the grown-up, allows Don to think he's in charge of the ship, not that it makes any difference, since Dr Zachary Smith (Gary Oldman) has sneaked aboard with his killer robot, intent of sabotage. Zac's purpose is beyond comprehension. Oldman puts on his Fifth Element face and expects the audience to quiver. They don't. They don't laugh, either.
Once "Jupiter 2" loses the plot, or rather its way, the film is in Aliens territory, with an abandoned spacecraft full of carnivorous spiders and a chilly planet with half-formed ideas struggling desperately to survive ridicule. The effects and the action and the creatures are fine. The script dies out there.
Oldman should have stayed at home. LeBlanc comes courtesy of Dial-A-Hunk. Graham makes you forget she was in Boogie Nights. Rogers makes you forget. Hurt looks miserable, as if he strayed onto the wrong sound stage. Chabert could have stolen the picture, but is given nothing to do in the second half. Johnson has the best time, playing with the gadgets. Also, for squirmaholics, there's a cutesy ET squidgy thing, like a soft toy from Disney's reject pile, to keep those who can't make head nor tail of the plot almost happy.Reviewed on: 19 Jan 2001