Lost in Space Reviews
Amazing how badly Hollywood can get it sometimes.
However, I think the movie struggled a bit because it was trying to fit into the mold of the original TV series too much. As a result they had to include a specific list of characters and both daughters were utterly useless in the plot. They are given moments to do things, but this film was so heavily focused on Will Robinson's relationship with his father that having these other kids in the way just needlessly cluttered the film with subplots. So we get the pointless romance to keep Heather Graham doing something, and we get annoying diary entries and a terrible CGI alien so we have a reason to look at Lacey Chabert from time to time.
The story is not a unique one, but it is interesting because of how they utilize time travel to explore what might happen. I'm a sucker for a good story of the kid who feels neglected by his father and therefore has to choose whether to follow in his footsteps or go along a darker path. Again, this is where Gary Oldman gets his moments to shine and he takes full advantage as the perfectly villainous Dr. Smith. There are some definite missteps and I don't know if the final resolution is satisfying, but it's not a completely terrible movie as I think it often gets labeled. Still, now that I've seen it again, I can't recommend it either.
What a shit show.
It's a shame what you have to sit through to get to it.
If ever a film was a pre-packaged, made-by-committee, Hollywood product - Lost in Space is it. Here's what I reckon went down:
1. Ransack old television series, fitting our desire to NOT have an original product onscreen, AND our perceived knowledge in the power of nostalgia to sell tickets...CHECK!!!
(shame that Lost in Space the 60s TV series wasn't THAT widely beloved anyway, beyond geeky/campy circles, so no one was clamoring for a reboot, shame perhaps that the tone of this flick eschewed the campy fun of the series)
2. Of course, we'll have to throw in some extra elements that will appeal to modern audiences
(shame that the pieces don't really fit together that well. I quite liked the blatant Star Wars-rip-off dogfight in the opening reel, but that's just eye candy. I also enjoyed the Aliens-like escape from the killer spiders bit in the middle. But shame about the dreary slogs surrounding)
3. Bring in a couple of Oscar-nominees to give the film some cred with the oldies and critics.
(shame that William Hurt (while decent here, he's been far more indulgent elsewhere) is going to be miscast in ANY story that emphasises plot and fun over character and potential-Oscar-noms, shame that Gary Oldman (who CAN be OTT fun - eg: The Professional) is a little subdued here...until his turn as a creepy-as-hell CGI spider....WTF!!!)
4. Cast Joey from Friends to lock-in the 20 and 30 somethings
(Yes, Friends/LeBlanc were at the height of their popularity in the late 90s. But shame that the majority of folk who watched Friends would only go to a science fiction flick IF IT WERE GOOD)
5. Add a couple of hotties who look good in space spandex
(OK, so unlike her Dorian Gray-like ex-hubbie, Mimi Rogers might have seen better days, but she still filled the spandex nicely. And Heather Graham...well, HEATHER GRAHAM. But kind of a shame that both ladies/characters were sidelined to do little more than pine for/kiss the male heroes)
6. Don't forget the kids!!! Make sure we appeal to them
(OK, Jack Johnson is pretty great as Will Robinson. But Lacey Chabert as Penny is like fingernails on a blackboard...but hey, she was in Party of Five, the kids know/love/want to be her - throw her in! But it's not the casting that's the problem here...)
In fact, pre-packaged, made-by-committee, Hollywood products CAN work. And - arguably William Hurt aside - the casting isn't really the problem with Lost in Space.
The problem is that the film is not made with any passion or drive or love. It looks great, and tepid direction aside - the performers are mostly game. But there's little momentum and drive and wit and fun. The vibe is too somber and sometimes Spider-Smith creepy. The pace is too staid. The story is a cross between a dreary time-travel episode of Star Trek and a Seventh Heaven episode about making sure we tell our loved ones we love them. It's obvious with being clever. It's corny without being fun. Johnson -- and intermittently Le Blanc and Oldman - bring things to life with some enthusiasm. Mimi has a nice "pissing contest" speech. The spider attack scene reminds me a bit of The Incredibles scene with the black globules on the bridge, and not in a bad way. The film is not a total loss. I'm glad I've seen it.
But the best part is by FAR the John Williams theme at the end. Next time I'll just fast forward directly to that.