We see several times in cinema that film makers have good intentions or at the very least had a good set up and the promise of something decent but failed to deliver all the way. The 1998 movie “Lost in Space” certainly fits that description. The film is based off the cult favorite 60’s TV show “Lost in Space” but it wasn’t meant to be a tribute to the fans of that show, more of a chance to just get a big Sci-Fi blockbuster out there. While it was a big box office success, beating "Titanic's" 15 week run, the film didn't get favorable feed back. To be honest, this film was on par with several fascinating new Sci-Fi movies that I was introduced to at a young age in the late 90’s including “Independence Day”, “Star Trek First Contact”, “Men in Black” and the special edition relies of the original “Star Wars Trilogy”. But off all those great action Sci-Fi’s I grew up with, “Lost in Space” has aged the worst with me.
As a young 1st grade student, I was always hyped about big budget movies like this one and the trailer looked really cool. However, like I said before this is one of those movies that had a lot of potential to be far better than what it turned out to be, but for what it is, it’s not the biggest disappointment I’ve ever seen either. The set up goes like this, the Robinson family are assigned to find a new planet for the people of Earth to colonize on because there planet is getting to populated. However, a saboteur stows away on the ship, screws things up and an accident sends them soaring across the galaxy into unknown space. Now this broken family has to pull together and find a way through the endless dangers of space. That’s an excellent set up for a big blockbuster Sci-Fi film and it really shouldn't have been that hard to do something good with it.
The first big problem with this film is the Robinson family themselves, they are so one dimensional, such obvious cardboard cut outs, share really stupid dialog and are completely forgettable. Every time there on screen, the audience is forced to listen to wit-less banter, dry personalities and lots of unengaging performances. To be fare, there is one memorable character, the evil saboteur named Dr. Smith, played by the always fantastic Gary Oldman, who manages to be the single bright spot in the film. I also enjoyed the robot character called B9. The B9 was one of the biggest trademarks of the show and he get's a fairly decent redesign that keeps that classic image alive while also updating it properly. His voice was awesome, he gets two really cool and different looks for the price of one and he made for a really awesome, best selling action figure to for us kids.
My biggest complement I have would be the look of this film. Unlike the futures seen in films like “Minority Report” or “Blade Runner”, where everything is dark and depressing, this was an awesome looking future with lots of colors and comfortable environments. I love the interior designs of the space ships, it had a very big Disney land like feel to it and it just looked like a future that wouldn't be that depressing to live in. The effects themselves are you usual impressive visuals for the 90's, which honestly had a little more charm then what we get all the time today.
So where does this film go south, well, while the set up certainly had potential, they just don’t do anything with the premise after words. There’s a nice little space battle in the opening of the film, we get a slightly exciting fight with some space spiders and another slightly exciting climax with Dr. Smith turning into a giant monster spider creature. But the rest of this film literally gets lost in this really messy plot about time travel, time bubbles, an Alternate reality future, which honestly isn't that hard to correct, constant plot wholes and one too many confusing things that just don’t add up. It’s just a complete mess and it didn't need to be, it could have been an exciting adventure about a family traveling through space but it’s wasted with boring characters, a convoluted time travel script and little too no alien creatures or even planets. Aside from all the space spiders, the only other alien creature we get is this stupid looking space monkey, I mean holly cow, that has to be one of the worst looking special effects I've ever seen.
Overall, it’s one of those bad movies that’s bad in a fairly harmless way. It didn’t hurt me to watch it, but it didn’t give me any reason to see it again. Maybe if it was a pilot for a TV show, it could have been more salvageable but there’s really no substance to this. So that’s it, no real anger or frustration, just a missed opportunity to be something better. I give “Lost in Space” 2 stars out of 5.