DVD, Blu-ray Movie Review
Directed by Stephen Hopkins, written by Akiva Goldsman, 130 minutes, PG-13.
By Christopher Smith
Danger! Danger, William Hurt! Danger, Matt LeBlanc! You’re lost in a bad film! You’re speaking unspeakable dialogue! Your pecs can’t possibly be that large! Danger! Danger! Danger!
It was inevitable. The big-screen version of the campy 1960s television series, “Lost in Space,” is now available on Blu-ray, a fact that will undoubtedly leave some cheering, and others--those who actually see the film--weeping in dim, colorless rooms for all that was lost in the translation.
Danger, moviegoers. “Lost in Space” is a great big intergalactic mess of a film featuring a brilliant, never-ending barrage of special effects that cut through your senses like the rat-a-tat-tat of a machine gun and are used, with some success, to divert your attention from the film’s many black holes, not the least of which are its poorly written script and its thin, grade school-quality acting.
Opening with a terrific--and hastily explained--space battle that stuns with the sheer audacity of its special effects, “Lost in Space” is, of course, about the Robinson family--Prof. John Robinson (Hurt), his wife, Maureen (Mimi Rogers), their daughters, Judy and Penny (Heather Graham and Lacey Chabert), and their son, Will (Jack Johnson)--who leave our troubled Earth with ace pilot, Don West (LeBlanc), to find Alpha Prime, the only other planet in the solar system known to support human life.
Along the way, they are undermined by the evil Dr. Smith (Gary Oldman), helped and hindered by a rebellious robot, chased after by a ferocious band of space spiders, marooned on an unknown planet--and forced to confront, of all things, their inadequate family values.
Unfortunately, while all of this does make for a film that is a wonder to look at, none of it makes for a story that is a wonder to watch unfold. Why? Because we don’t care for this family. These people aren’t the Robinsons we remember, but dull, puffed-up cast-offs in bondage gear who look as though they belong more in a porno movie than they do in a film based on an admittedly silly piece of '60s nostalgia.
Is this really the movie audiences expected? A film featuring a bunch of grunting, unlikable characters used not so much to deepen the film as they are to set up the next spectacular explosion?
As a television series, “Lost in Space” was bad in a way that made it deliciously good. In its cardboard sets, its tinfoil costumes and its over-the-top acting, it never took itself seriously, which was part of its charm.
But “Lost in Space,” the film, loses the point because it does take itself too seriously. Far too seriously. The evening news isn’t this serious. You don’t sense the actors winking at the audience as you did in the television series. Instead, what you sense is humiliation from Hurt, false bravado from a bulked-up LeBlanc and acute indigestion from Rogers, who is incapable of building any romantic tension between herself and Hurt, a crucial element to the film’s success.
Lost in space, indeed.