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Lost in Space

Starring: William Hurt, Gary Oldman
Director: Stephen Hopkins
Genre: Action / Science Fiction
Year: 1998
Rating: 3 / 5

Lost in Space is one of those movies which begins with such high promise, but which, even though it entertains, fails to live up to the build-up it evokes in the viewer. I found myself expecting something grand and majestic, yet I was left with run-of-the-mill plot developments, and an entertaining, if unfulfilling, two hours of space thrills.

A certain group of individuals with whom I am acquainted, when watching the Jean-Claude Van Damme vehicle Timecop, declared that, while it was loads of fun and a pretty good film by Van Damme standards, it could have done so much more with the time travel concept. I feel much the same way about this movie. It addresses some interesting issues in space travel, such as gates to the far reaches of the galaxy and parallel universes, yet it does not give the viewer a satisfying result from these alluring hints. William Hurt is quite intellectual in his role as Professor Robinson, yet stiff as a board, which is pretty much what I have come to expect from Hurt. Gary Oldman, in his usual villain role, is not as maniacal as we are accustomed to seeing, but effective as always. Matt Leblanc even surprises as Don West, the unlucky ship's pilot. Many who are used to his Friends role as Joey will find this a pleasant surprise.

The real scene stealers of the show, however, are young Will Robinson and his robot companion. Voiced by the original Lost in Space actor, Robot pummels his fair share of aliens, yet I admittedly spent a lot of time waiting for him to say "Danger Will Robinson!" (He did not disappoint.) Will's brains, ingenuity, and creativity, not to mention his unwavering belief in his own abilities, in spite of his father's ignorance, more than compensate for the presence of Party of Five's Claudia as Penny Robinson. While this almost kept me from the movie, I am glad I overlooked this slight casting error and gave the film a chance.

All in all, Lost in Space delivers a fair amount of bang for the buck. Without giving anything away, though, do not expect a nice, wrap-up ending. Imagine Star Wars, with the X-Wings blasting off to tackle Darth Vadar's legions and destroy the Death Star, only to have the screen fade out leaving the viewer wondering what will happen. Same approach here, though not quite as dramatic. You have been warned. Whatever your reason, check it out if you are so inclined, but do not be surprised if you are shaking your head at the end, muttering about how this or that could be improved. Just go in with a smile and modest expectations, and you may not find yourself drifting into space...

William Hurt..........John Robinson
Gary Oldman..........Dr. Smith
Mimi Rogers..........Maureen Robinson
Heather Graham..........Judy Robinson
Lacey Chabert..........Penny Robinson
Jack Johnson III..........Will Robinson
Matt LeBlanc..........Don West

Certification: Rated PG-13 for action.
Running Time: 130 minutes.

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