Lost In Space

6 out of 10


Lost The Plot Too

For the first hour, this film really rocks. As similar to the original TV series as the USS Enterprise is to the Russian crippled Mir spacecraft, this is a highly credible and finely crafted piece of Sci-Fi. The stunning computer graphics make "Independence Day" look poor and you are never off the edge of your seat as it details the life-and-death struggles of the highly fractious, malfunctioning Robinson family. Prof Robinson himself is a workaholic obsessive who's pushing his wife to the edge of a nervous breakdown, his son's a disruptive truant, his youngest daughter a punk rock dropout and his pilot, a brainless, arrogant cowboy who can't think beyond his crotch. And Prof Smith? Gone is the bungling coward of the TV series, and in comes Gary Oldman as a twisted, psycho-terrorist "on the make".

Unfortunately his son, Will, is also a mathematical genius and, halfway through the movie, he builds a time machine that is so overwhelmingly powerful that it hurls the entire film back to the 1960's. In a sudden flash, all the computer graphics have disappeared and the actors seem to find themselves back on the set of the original tacky TV series in a laughable plot, performing joke lines like blocks of wood amongst scenery that's so phony, it wobbles. Even Robby the Robot suddenly appears, after 30 years as a hat stand in some film executive's office to add the final insult to what had been a brilliant film, and starts wandering around the stage blurting "Danger Will Robinson...The audience is getting bored ...Danger Will Robinson...the audience is leaving the theatre.."

And, alas, as with most 1960's Sci-Fi period pieces, it also falls into the fatal trap regarding advanced technology. Why do characters only use godlike machines like a hyper space drive to escape from some life-threatening situations and not theirs?........Why do characters only use god-like machines like a hype space drive to escape from some like-threatening situations and not others?

For, try as they might, the actors just don`t have enough power left in their ship to break loose of the laughable 1960`s hackneyed plot that`s broken out like a plague. With women suddenly back as just plot-device dishwashing stereotypes, one can understand Prof Smith`s comment, "I can still remember the screams of the women" - presumably when they were first shown the script of the ending. Centred on a lame father-son relationship, the last reel is overwhelmingly twee and tedious, principally as Jack Johnson, the noxious Will, is so utterly incapable of acting that he always looks as if he`s been pushed in front of the camera at the end of a broomstick by the floor manager to read lines written on a blackboard beside it. Ironically, he contrasts violently with Lacey Chabert, who plays Penny, a 12-year old punk rocker and youngest of the Robinson daughters. Surplus to the plot, she seems totally immune to the sudden outbreak of corny drivel and puts in a performance throughout the film that outshines everyone else, Gary Oldman included, holding together whatever little credibility the film has to the bitter end. What a waste!

Both spacecraft and film crash halfway through

Film Critic: Robert L Thompsett