Movie Review

Lost in Space

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some intense sci-fi action

Reviewed by: Kyle Suggs
CONTRIBUTOR

Average
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Teens Adults
Genre:
Sci-fi
Length:
120 min.

Starring: Mimi Rogers, William Hurt, Lacey Chabert, Heather Graham, Jack Johnson, Gary Oldman, Matt LeBlanc / Director: Stephen Hopkins / Released by: New Line Cinema

It’s a trend in full force: the adaptation of ancient TV shows from silver screen to big screen. New Line Cinema’s “Lost in Space”, based on the television show that airing from 1965-1968, is one such film. While not highly recommended, “Lost in Space” may be worth watching if you are a fan of the TV show. Read on.

The year is 2058. The Earth’s ozone layer has depleted to the point that human life would become unsustainable within 20 years. John Robinson (William Hurt) is a world-renowned scientist, husband, and father of three (or four, depending on how you look at it). He leads a scheduled ten-year mission to save Earth. John and his family must travel to a distant planet (Alpha Prime) and build a warp tunnel to help facilitate a mass evacuation of Earth. Of course, something goes wrong.

“Lost in Space” is not without problems of its own. The first 20 minutes are chock-full of too many special effects and too much mass confusion. Most of the plot is left unexplained and unintelligable to the average movie-goer. Furthermore, New Line Cinema (owned by Time Warner) shamelessly promotes the Looney Toon characters throughout the film.

In a sub-plot, this story introduces an estranged relationship between a father and his family. John Robinson is a type-A, mission driven dad who pushes his family to the limits, particularly his son, Will (Jack Johnson). If you can stomach the silly dialogue in the opening fight scene, the screenplay written by Akiva Goldsman (“The Client,” “Batman Forever,” “A Time to Kill”) is not too bad. The commendable acting also helps to mask some of the flaws of this flick.

Even though “Lost in Space” ends its story with the possibility for a sequel, few viewers will feel cheated. The special effects, impressive robotics, and heart-warming family relationship sub-plot pleased this reviewer. If you plan to view “Lost in Space”, leave your brain at the concession stand and have fun with this one.

Profanity was present in “Space” with around a dozen instances (one spoken by a child). Sexual innuendos, too, make more than one appearance. One particular instance between Judy Robinson (Heather Graham) and pilot-turned-action-hero Don West (Matt LeBlanc) was downright vulgar. Lastly, religious connotations seem to promote the New Age belief that one can become a god. Dr. Zachary Smith (Gary Oldman) is transformed into an eight foot tall spider monster, then claims to be a god.

Year of Release—1998

Viewer Comments
A must see if you can view it on the big screen!! Lost In Space was the best sci-fi movie I’ve seen in a long time. The plot was concedingly comic book material. And one scene of a man transfigured into a spider-like monster warrants PG-13 in my view. But the special effects were SUPERB and the sets were very well done. It’s good vs. evil premise is classic, and the story has enough twists to hold your interest. There are some good, humourous one liners and a moral group of characters (minus the villain of course). It’s hard to ask a whole lot more from sci-fi. Hang on to your seat and enjoy the ride!!
—Todd Adams, age 30
I found most of the comments posted about “Lost in Space” to be downright naive. I’m sorry that everyone found the parental message offensive, but let’s face it, it’s really close to the truth. Kids do feel neglected by their parents and many of them have a need to rebel. Just saying “Sorry” and “I love you” won’t always make it better. It’s a real life situation facing every family, and Christian families are no exception. I’m glad that Goldsman snuck in this message. Societies problems don’t just crop up out of nowhere. Many of them start in the home… Finally, Sci-Fi movies are suppose to have a lot of special effects!!! Sci-Fi’s are meant to take us out of our reality and give us a wild and crazy ride. If you don’t want that, then don’t see the movie.
—Ryan, age 19
I like the Si Fi type of movies, this is one to maybe add to my movie collection when available to purchase. William Hurt seemed to aggressivly attempt to make his TV character, Dr. Robinson, an extension of his typical acting style that most of us saw in “MICHEAL”.I thought this took away from his character, which in turn took a little bit away from the movie.And also the “A TYPICAL” behaviour of Matt Leblanc as the young confident “HERO” who’s main quest seem’s to be a sexuall relationship with the young and very pretty Dr. Robinson, and not getting the family safely to thier destination.But Hey it’s a secular movie,what would anyone honestly expect?Dr.Smith seemed much more manyical in this movie than on television, Will seemed much smarter and his sister much more unbalanced/rebelious/bitter (even for a Teen)/and a little on the Dark side. I would not recomend this movie to anyone who has, or think’s they may have, a troubled teen,it could quite possibly send them the wrong “message”.On the other hand if you are matture in the Lord and can “file”this type of movie away as “Purely Entertainment”,you may enjoy it especially the special effects. #####The Real Question####… Would Jesus watch this film?? Hmm,I think he might, but he would probably leave Peter at home.
—Tony Sundberg
From a Christian perspective, this movie was minimally offensive, in my opinion. There was a small degree of sexual connotations in the cat and dog relationship between West and the oldest Robinson girl. There was also a modest degree of violence. However, from a cinematic standpoint, this movie was the worst I’ve seen in years. I felt really ripped off when I left the theatre. I could have cared less for any of the characters. They were all as plastic as their “batman”-clone body suits. The youngest—Will—held my attention the most, until he turned from brilliant child prodigy to the naive, helpless lad who falls into the evil trap of Dr. Smith. Also, Dr. Smith was quite the idiot. After he was imprisoned in the ship laboratory by the Robinsons, any entrance or exit to that room by parties other than himself was accomplished by simply saying “Open” or “Close” to the door. Didn’t it occur to him to at least TRY and say “Open” once to see if it would work. It is clear that I didn’t like this movie. I wish they’d stayed Lost in Space.
—John A. Willett
I liked it! Yes, it was a no-brainer, but I thought it was a whole lot cleaner than what is offered on Prime Time TV! The ending was a little disappointing, but then look at the possibilities for another movie, or even a new TV series. Remember, the old series always left us hanging, too!
—Susie, age 45
I agree that this movie is best seen in a theater. The special effects require the big screen for maximum impact. But I don’t think I would go to a full-price theater either. The premise behind the sabotage was fairly lame, and I really wish the writers would have consulted a physicist before writing the final escape sequence. The laws of physics just do not support what they attempted. Overall, it rated a great big “OKAY” from my wife and me. I guess we went in expecting more of the squeaky clean Robinson family.
—The Mortons
Being an avid watcher of the original “LOST IN SPACE” episodes, I found this one to be right in line with few character disruptions. In the original series Penny was a “go-go” kind of gal, Judy seemed to exhude her need for Major West, Will was a smarty young thing, Dr. Smith was a sinister self serving coward. The new movie included the probable effects of a totally Godless society where Penny sought attention through harmful relationships and self-debasing character diminuitives, Judy was a self sufficient total woman in need of no man until she was ready, Will was still the smarty with the added probable truth of being the product of the industrial beast (which is being well served now), and Dr. Smith, as always the coward with the materialisation of his deepest desire—to be seen as the potent figure head he never was, Major West was still right on. So, looking at the movie from a Christian perspective as my 11 year old son and I have, the movie is not bad, just a warning to our global thought processes.
—G.T.
I thought it was much better than the reviews. Of course, the reviews said don’t waste your money. I say this is a movie to see in the theatre. It was very mild in the “worldly” way compared to other PG and PG-13 out nowadays. It teaches Dads to spend more time with their kids. Also teaches Dads and their kids to trust in each other. The special effects were like none I ever seen before! Go see this one in the theatre!
—Sam, age 27
Lastly, religious connotations seem to promote the New Age belief that one can become a god. Dr. Zachary Smith (Gary Oldman) is transformed into an eight foot tall spider monster, then claims to be a god” I’d disagree that this we there to promote a New Age belief. The fact was Dr. Smith was a very evil character and when he under went his transformation by alien infection he called himself a god. I don’t think anyone thought he actually was, he just considered himself to be very powerful. Not out of character for a truly evil character. I thought the movie was fun and the special effects were good. The plot was a little strange, but acceptable. The father character was way too unemotional.
—Ron Davis
Our family went to see this movie last night and on top of other comments that have been made, we found it to be very dark. The evil that is displayed in movies lately compared to evil a few years back has become sinister and diabolical. The character Penny was disturbing to watch. She not only was made up to look like a punk rock twelve year old but she had the body of a six year old. Her attitude was so bad that she hurt to watch. When you’ve seen the old episodes it makes us wonder what has changed in society that everyone in the family had to be changed in order to accomodate the changes in the family in our society. Boy, has the family gone downhill!
—D.S.
It seems that several (Christian??) people think that sexual inuendo and vulgar language aren’t so bad. I would think otherwise. I did enjoy the movie, but I was terribly upset at the moviemakers making that child spit out such a thoughtless vulgarity. This is a child! What’s next…? The scene reflected my own personal opinion, that when someone has intelligence, he/she is smart enough to express without being vulgar. Then it turns that point into a joke. For this, I would never allow a child to view this movie unedited. I think it is time that Christians unite, buy movie studio stock, and reverse this trend.
—R. Mack
“Lost in Space” was a disaster. It was an awful movie with no character depth. Now that that’s out of the way, there’s the problem some Christians seem to have with it—the fact that it is marketed towards younger kids, and a toy line has developed for them. I disagree with Ben Stroud when he says that this movie is not appropriate for kids under sixteen. Come on! You wouldn’t take a thirteen-year-old to see it because of a few obscenities and innuendos? I can see if a parent would have a problem with toy companies manufacturing Robocop toys or Terminator action figures, but Lost in Space? Forget it. That’s marketable stuff. And releasing four different versions of the film? That sounds good, but you know it would cause confusion, and the director would be seriously upset with that. Directors do not like to have to chop their films up. That sad, this was a bad movie. Don’t go to it.
—Milo Lydon, age 16
I read the reviews presented by everyone and was startled by one amazing overtone… not from the movie, but from the reviewers. There was a concern with the viewing of the family, a single offensive word and some sexual innuendoes. As far as I am concerned the movie was a hit. I have four children, ages 10 through 18 and I went on a limb and took the entire family the opening weekend, paid full price and saw it in a giant stadium seat theatre. Everyone was impressed. Not only with the stimulating special effects, but with the easy to follow story line that threw together the castaways in a new and exciting way. I was extremely impressed with the way the studio threw the nostalgia into the film (the robot’s voice and opening lines and the Jupiter I being the same as the Jupiter II from the series). The small alien was a good touch for the youngest of the family and the sexual innuendoes were little more than what would have been seen in an old Love Boat episode. As far as the single bad word, anyone will hear worse simply walking through a shopping center. Not only was this one of the best movies the family has seen in many months (and we see a lot) it will be the first in years we will see many times at the theatre. Go to be entertained, not educated and don’t compare it too closely with the original series. This is entertainment, pure and simple and they hit the nail square on the head. My family gives this film a firm “six thumbs up”!
—Gary H.
First off, the plot was not that hard to follow. If you can figure the Bible out, this movie should pose no particular threat. Second off, the fact that the evil Dr. Smith calls himself a “God” is well within the expectations of an evil character. It is part of the plot, and has nothing to do with “the new age belief that one can become a god.” Not everything anyone says in a movie script reflects the beliefs of the screenwriter. The writer has to adapt the dialogue to the character he is writing it for. Lost in Space was a fun movie, and it was very entertaining. This is the point of movies, and the reason they were invented.
—Clyde, age 34
I knew exactly what to expect as I walked into “Lost in Space,” and I got it. Interesting (if not dazzling) special effects, campy dialogue and acting, and a plot that serves as a serviceable vehicle for both. I wanted to be entertained, and I was. As a fan of both heavy and light sci-fi, I know that not every big-budget space movie is going to stretch my intellectual prowess, and I am happy to sit through a film that is fun for the sake of being fun. “Lost in Space” is one of those films that the too-serious-minded-to-relax-and-suspend-belief set will not appreciate. The rest of us will keep on going to movies like this, and we will keep on enjoying them. The little kid in me loved this movie, and even the more “adult” aspects (violence, language, hinted-at sexuality) were tame enough by today’s “South Park” standards to ignore. Go, enjoy a matinee, and please don’t take this space stuff too seriously.
—Rick Friedline, age 25
Warning! Warning! Don’t spend your money to see this movie! My son (age 14) and I give this movie a 2 thumbs down. The plot was confusing, the special effects were too numerous, the ending really wasn’t an ending. The only positive thing was there wasn’t any nudity, although there were dirty words and rebellious attitudes. If you go see the movie, don’t say we didn’t warn you.
—Kent, age 45 and Scott, age 14
Okay, I went and saw it. I read a few different reviews and they all seemed to say the same thing: This is a movie to miss. Some said it a bit more bluntly then the others but they all seemed to agree; Lost In Space would be better off lost in space. The dilemma though is that not only am I a science fiction fan, I also grew up with Lost In Space. So I packed up my 12 year-old son and twenty bucks to cover the movie, popcorn and drinks and strode purposefully into the local cinema. Two hours later I emerged 20 bucks poorer but with a smile. Lost In Space is not the greatest of movies but it was entertaining. I am glad however, that I went to the economy viewing and only paid $3.75. $7.00 would have been a little steep for this movie. It was pretty brainless, but I enjoy parking my brain every once in a while for two hours of mindless entertainment. The special effects were terrific with the one exception of Penny’s pet alien which was a little overdone and didn’t really add anything to the story except for a cute ET that can be sold at toy stores. The story line was standard sci-fi fare and fairly predictable. The acting was very good, if uninspired, but still believable. If your looking for a fairly harmless afternoon movie with your 12+ year-old this movie will fit the bill. There was little in the way of gratuitous violence and almost all the violence was directed toward alien spider creatures. The vulgar language in the film was very mild and very sparse. There was also a brief scene involving some sexual innuendo between Judy and Major West where Judy rebuffs the Major’s advances that bordered on offensive depending on your level of sensitivity. I managed to walk out of the theater without feeling guilty for having brought my 12 year-old and he enjoyed it even more than I did.
—Dan Wood, age 35
Hey! Why is everyone being so hard in Lost In Space? I thought it was a wonderful film. Plot Holes? Bad writing? Hello! This is Lost In Space! And why does everyone think the dad was portrayed in a negative way? I thought they portrayed the family very well. There were negative aspects (the dad was a workaholic, and didn’t spend time with his kids) but they were presented clearly as negative things, and were addressed and set right. In fact, I really appreciated the main theme of this movie—the relationship between the father and son. As for the “sexual innuendo” scenes between Judy and the pilot—hey, she abstained! And she never caved in, the macho pilot never won anything but a kiss—and that after risking his life to save everyone. Let’s give the producers credit for making a movie about a traditional family that stuck together and worked out their difficulties! The days of seriously portraying Brady Bunch-style families is over, and I say “good riddance!”
—Tim Blaisdell, age 34
I felt that “Lost in Space” would be better for younger teens rather than for teens—adults. It was just lacking something. And I must have missed the religious connotations that suggested the New Age belief that one can become a god. I am 31 years old, my husband and I see a lot of Sci-Fi movies. Thank you for the opportunity to tell you what I thought.
—F. Pearl
Why add garbage to a movie with such possibilities to be a good sci-fi flick for the whole family? When I saw the rating advertised I knew they must have trashed it up. The special effects were wonderful and so were the sets, costumes and gadgets. They had a good cast and a built in PG audience. Too bad Time Warner was in charge. This was another story of bashing the Dad and as a Dad I would never take my children to see it. I’m sorry but I don’t like laying out my money for my kids to see what dorks parents are. The cursing in the opening scenes and Judy’s teasing Major West about jumping on the table for sex would keep me from taking any kid under 16 to see this movie and that’s too bad. I noticed Wal-Mart is already stocked up with toys for this movie and that’s another grip I have. If their target audience is above 16 then they don’t need toys. If they are going to make toys and action figures, make the movie so the kids can go. It sure leaves the parents in a bad position to have to explain to kids that they can’t have a toy because the movie is not suitable for them. Here’s an idea. Why not make 4 cuts of a movie like this, a G, PG, PG-13, and an R. I would bet anything the G rated version would get the biggest box office. They could at least try this when they released it to video.
—Ben Stroud, 38
“Lost in Space” is easily one of the worst films to grace the screen in many years. Even friends of mine who were fans of the TV series despised this film version. First of all, there is no story! Sure… there’s a *premise*. But there is no story to the movie whatsoever. It’s just “let’s throw bad one-liners and repetitive explosions at the audience and see what sticks.” “Lost in Space” is merely a bunch of disconnected scenes only linked by the fact that the same actors keep walking through them. The characters, too, are also non-existant. The portrayal of the Robinson family insults the audience by transforming the close-knit clan of the 60’s into the standard Dysfunctional Family Of The Nineties. The father is a Spineless Dolt, the mother is The One Really In Control, the youngest daughter is the Whiny Brat, we have the Young Boy Genius, the Hormone-Driven Hotshot who chases the Only Available Attractive Female. Please… are there any other cliches the filmmakers forgot to cram into this movie? Add to this the fact that “Lost in Space” proves that too many special effects can truly be *too many*. I felt like I was assaulted for two hours, and left the theatre with a headache. Now that the original TV episodes of “Lost in Space” are on video, do your family a favor and rent *them* instead of seeing this movie. Sure, they’re silly and campy, but they’re far more charming and entertaining than this by-the-numbers exercise in audience torture.
—Christopher Heyn, age 33
What was shaping out to be one of my all time favorite moves turned out to be my most disappointing movie experience. The first 3/4 of the movie was great, I LOVED the special effects, but the stupidity of the ending left me in shock. It’s like most of the movie was done by professional writers but the ending was written by complete morons (and that’s putting it nicely.) The reviewer hit the nail on the head when he said leave your brain at the concession stand because apparently that’s what the writers did.
—Joe Meadows, age 31