I hadn’t seen the Lost in Space movie since it came out back in 1998, and all I could really remember about it was that Lacey Chabert was very cute and funny as ‘Penny Robinson’. This week it was showing on TV, and… er… yeah, there’s not much more I can add to that. For those who don’t know, this sci-fi flick follows a futuristic family of boffins, as they set off on a voyage to construct a “hypergate” on a habitable planet in a distant star system, to which the residents of a perishing Earth will be evacuated. Their mission is sabotaged by a sneaky stowaway, who causes the ship to veer wildly off course, leaving the family (and him) quite literally “lost in space”. It’s been even longer since I saw the TV show that this was adapted from, but I think I’m right in saying that it was a lot lighter and brighter than this “gritty reboot”… certainly the ship’s resident pompous coward, ‘Dr. Zachary Smith’, was a damn sight less psychotic! Don’t get me wrong, I think Gary Oldman is brilliant… but since they’ve made the camp, cowardly “comic relief” outright evil here, all we’re left with on the male side of things is the deathly boring, zombie-like patriarch ‘Professor John Robinson’ (William Hurt), the precocious mecha-building moppet ‘Will Robinson’ (Jack Johnson), and the meat-headed space-cowboy ‘Major Don West’ (Matt LeBlanc, of Joey fame). Meh.
On the female side of things, we have Chabert of course… who builds up a lot of goodwill with her snarky little “vlogs” to camera, before being saddled with a repugnant CGI space-monkey about halfway through the movie, and losing all of her credibility. Heather Graham looks as lovely as ever, but has sod-all to do as ‘Dr. Judy Robinson’, the requisite “cold fish” love interest for LeBlanc to clumsily “thaw out”. Meanwhile, their mama bear, ‘Dr. Maureen Robinson’, is played by Mimi Rogers… who has previously appeared in such “cult classics” as Ginger Snaps, Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery and Trees Lounge, as well as scoring a recurring role in The X Files as ‘Agent Diana Fowley’. Unfortunately the major story arc in the movie concerns father-son bonding exclusively, so the female characters all get sidelined in the service of that tedious tosh… because apparently wives and daughters don’t deserve love, attention or encouragement! Good to know.
It was a box office success at the time, but also a critical flop… and a mind-numbing chore to sit through, all these years later. I still think there’s a lot of potential in the basic premise… but perhaps it really is better suited to a wacky TV series than a flashy FX-driven blockbuster?