Revisiting the Reviled – ‘Lost in Space’ is Lost, Wastes Space

GameStop, Inc.

Stranded in the Uncanny Valley.

For the most part, films based upon television shows are always bad. Of course, there are exceptions – Star Trek films, ’66 Batman, The Simpsons Movie, 21 and 22 Jump Street – but the inescapable fact is they’re usually produced because they have the magic ingredient for unimaginative, fearful executives: brand recognition. But brand recognition is overvalued, as is evidenced by the 1998 film adaptation of the ’60 sci-fi show Lost in Space. From 1965-’68, Lost in Space ran for only three seasons, which was the style at the time. While recognizable to Baby Boomers, Lost in Space wasn’t a part of the constant cycle of reruns from my youth. I watched The Monkees, Batman, Star Trek, Gilligan’s Island, and The Beverly Hillbillies, but Lost in Space was never regularly on for me to gain a familiarity with the characters. Outside of some references on The Simpsons, I think most of my generation would be unfamiliar with the journey of the Robinson family and the nefarious Dr. Smith.

Outside of a few cameos from the original cast (notable exceptions are Johnathan Harris and Billy Mumy), including a nightmare inducing cameo by June Lockhart, the ’98 Lost in Space film used the show as its inspiration, repurposing the show’s premise to fit the modern mold of blockbuster spectacle. The Earth is in peril. Pollution has ravaged the planet, only 40% of the Ozone Layer remains (a dead giveaway as to when the film was made). Humanity is attempting to build the hypergate, a portal that will allow humanity to travel across space in an instant. In order to properly construct the hypergate, the Robinson family – patriarch John Robinson (William Hurt), matriarch Maureen Robinson (Mimi Rogers), and their children Judy (Heather Graham), Penny (Lacey Chabert), and Will (Jack Johnson) – will fly to Alpha Prime, make their end of the hypergate, and save humanity. Before they’ve left, their mission is already subjected to subterfuge. The original spaceship captain has been murdered, and is replaced with Major Don West (Matt LeBlanc), a hothead, a maverick, a renegade. Before the family may take off into the cosmos, they’re sabotaged again by Dr. Zachary Smith (Gary Oldman), who is double crossed by his seditious superiors, leaving him trapped aboard the spaceship. Now the crew of the Jupiter 2 spaceship are hurtling through the stars, unsure of their place in space-time.


The chimp and the chump.

With its computer generated characters and green screen sets, Lost in Space feels like the prequel to the Star Wars prequels. After a brief opening narration, the film opens with an extended action sequence, a sequence resembling the opening of Revenge of the Sith, which would open nearly 7 years later. Both sequences are extended, fast-paced dogfights in space, but are woefully short on story or character – you know, the stuff that gives meaning to the flashy spectacle. Written by Hollywood’s resident Oscar winning hack, Akiva Goldsman, sequences features terrible lines like, “This cold war just got hot,” and, “Last one to kill a bad guy buys the beer.” Not content with just awful dialogue, Goldsman has like 3 different subplots that are of little coherence or relevance. For example, the seditious forces that Dr. Smith answers to are just a minor plot contrivance, disappearing completely by the midway point. What makes Lost in Space, among many other things, so unbearable is that it gives the audience a glimpse of real sci-fi. This only occurs after watching the minor familial squabbles and major, yet hollow, action setpieces for 90 minutes, so its 20 minute foray into legitimate sci-fi is just a reminder to the film’s wasted potential.


Nightmare fuel.

Besides its specifically dated environmental politics and early CGI effects, Lost in Space dates itself mostly by the casting of Matt LeBlanc. With the exception of Jennifer Aniston (even then she’s had her ups and downs) none of the cast members of Friends found consistent success on the big screen, and LeBlanc’s performance here shows why his ventures into leading man status only invoke memories of Ed, the baseball playing chimp movie. It’s not fair to pick on LeBlanc when the film consists of decent actors all under-performing with the lone exception of Gary Oldman, who always delivers a performance even in the worst garbage. William Hurt is stifled and wooden. Mimi Rogers is just a paper-thin concerned mother. Coming off her performance as Rollergirl in Boogie Nights, Heather Graham shows her limitations that will be more pronounced over her career. To be fair to Graham, when playing a pornstar she never had lines as wretched as, “Why don’t you just hang onto your joystick.”

The film’s gender politics are so firmly rooted in the past. When the film finally flirts with sci-fi, it’s the men who go and explore the unknown terrain of the planet they’re stranded on. The three women – 2 of whom are doctors! – are left behind to fret, worry, and cry. As Penny Robinson, Lacey Chabert is probably done the biggest disservice. Her character is nothing more than an annoying emotional wreck, just the kind of character written by a middle-aged white male – teenage girls, amirite?


“I once caught a fish…THIS BIG.”

Journeyman director Stephen Hopkins doesn’t compound matters with incompetent direction. For the most part, the film’s action is clearly presented. The failings of Lost in Space are on the page first. Its over-reliance on effects are just like the same problems with the Star Wars prequels, sacrificing the tangible for digital ephemera that looks worse with each passing year. Though it tries to capture the spirit of the original, Lost in Space is a movie without an identity, without a soul. Of all the original members from the TV series, the one whose presence that is most missed is Billy Mumy, the original Will Robinson. The film even contains a time-travel subplot, an older Will Robinson appears, however, he’s played by Jarred Hess. Even more important than his work on the TV show, Mumy was half of Barnes & Barnes, a musical duo whose most famous song is Fish Heads. Whereas Fish Heads has the claim to fame of being the most requested song in the history of the Dr. Demento show, the only claim to fame that the Lost in Space movie has is that it ended Titanic’s 15-week run as the number 1 movie in America, a footnote to another film’s legacy.

Anytime Costumes

Leave a Reply

Animation/Anime Interviews Animation/Anime News Animation/Anime Reviews Film/TV Interviews Film/TV News Film/TV Review
‘Justice League: Crisis on Infinite Earths – Part Three’ – Leaves us Wanting More! – Spoiler Free Review

‘Justice League: Crisis on Infinite Earths – Part Three‘ is a...

‘Lumina’ is a Incredible First for Debuting Director, Gino McKoy – Review

‘Lumina‘ is an incredible concept and an exceptional first run for...

Aaron Augenblick Returns for Season 2 of ‘City Island’ on PBS KIDS – Interview

Acclaimed Animator, Aaron Augenblick Returns with a Second Season of ‘City...

Event News Event Reviews
The ‘California Dreams’ Band Reunite on The Sunset Strip For a Night of 90s Nostalgia – Concert Review

Don’t Wake Me Up if I’m Dreaming, The ‘California Dreams‘ Band...

Jay Anthony Franke Talks California Dreams Reunion Concert in LA – Interview

Jay Anthony Franke Talks About The ‘California Dreams‘ Reunion Concert in...

‘An Inspector Calls’ Challenges the Morals of the Bourgeois – Review

‘An Inspector Calls‘ Challenges the Morals and Ethics of the Bourgeois...

Automotives Football MMA, Kick Boxing & Boxing Professional Wrestling
Derek Gumin Talks Planet 13 and UFC 303 Meet and Greets – Interview

Director of Wholesale Accounts at Planet 13, Derek Gumin spoke about...

Oscar De La Hoya Partners with El Rey for ‘Friday Night Fights’ – Interview

The Golden Boy himself chatted with us about Golden Boy Promotions...

Olympic Runner Colleen Quigley ‘On The Road to Paris’

Team USA Olympic Runner, Colleen Quigley is On The Road to...

Adult Continuity Comics on the Can Cultural Junk Drawer Future Comic Rock Stars Is That Racist? Revisiting the Reviled THAT'S NOT ROTTEN! The B-Reel The Cantina Scene This Week in Crowdfunding What the HELL Did I just...?
Fantoy Comics Presents: Harry Potter and the Pahrump Apocalypse – Blood on the Cactus, Endgame


Fantoy Comics Presents: A 4th of July Message!

Seriously, America, THIS crap?!?!?

Fantoy Comics Presents – Harry Potter and the Pahrump Apocalypse: Blood on the cactus pt 4 (?)

There are some weird guys here that want invest in a...

Music Interviews Music News Music Reviews
Joe Kwaczala Talks About His new Comedy Album ‘Funny Songs & Sketches’ – Interview

Joe Kwaczala Talks About His new Comedy Album ‘Funny Songs &...

Songwriter and Poet, Tamara Mechael Talks About Her Career in the Arts

First Generation Assyrian-Chaldean, Songwriter and Poet, Tamara Mechael Talks About Her...

Louden Swain Headlining Los Angeles Show at The Echo

Press Release – Louden Swain are headlining Los Angeles show at...

Enabled Gaming Gaming News Gaming Reviews
Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League
Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League Gameplay Trailer

The first Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League gameplay trailer was revealed during...

Wonder Woman Game
Wonder Woman Game Announced By DC and WB Games

Wonder Woman game will feature the iconic hero in a 3rd...

MultiVersus brings Batman, Arya Stark, Bugs Bunny, and More

MultiVersus is bringing Shaggy, Harley Quinn, Jake, Batman, Arya Stark, Bugs Bunny,...

Comic Creator Interviews Comic/Graphic Novel News Comic/Graphic Novel Reviews Manga News Manga Reviews Novel/Novella Author Interviews Novel/Novella News Novel/Novella Reviews
Billy Eddy Talks His new Book ‘Our New World of Adult Bullies’ – Interview

Lawyer, Mediator and Personality Expert Bill Eddy Provides a Six-Step Strategy...

Gary Morgenstein Talks ‘A Dugout to Peace’ the Final Installment of his Trilogy

Gary Morgenstein Talks About ‘A Dugout to Peace‘ the final installment...

Chris Clews Is ‘Raised on the 80s’ and Shares Those Life Lessons

Chris Clews was ‘Raised on the 80s‘ and Shares Those Life...

Apparel/Personal Maintenance News Apparel/Personal Maintenance Reviews Entertainment Product News Entertainment Product Reviews Food/Beverage Reviews Hardware News Hardware Reviews Mystery Box News Mystery Box Reviews
Harry Potter: Magic Caster Wand Demo

The new ‘Harry Potter: Magic Caster Wand‘ is ready to ship...

Chef Jen Peters and Matthew Clayton Bring us the ‘Good Flour’

Canadian Super Chef Jen Peters and Matthew Clayton Bring us the...

Pop Insider 2021 Holiday Gift Guide
Pop Insider 2021 Holiday Gift Guide

The Pop Insider 2021 Holiday Gift Guide is now available to help...

Gaming Uncensored Toon-In-Talk
Episode 38: Hamid Rahmanian

Join Whitney Grace as she speaks with artist Hamid Rahmanian, who...

No Preview
Toon-In Talk Episode 37: Niki Smith

Whitney Grace interviews graphic novel writer and artist Niki Smith about...

Toon-In Talk Episode 36: Rob Paulsen

Rob Paulsen takes some time from his busy voice acting schedule...