by Bret W.
As a Friends fan, I’ll admit that a large part of the reason I wanted to see Lost in Space was that Matt LeBlanc is featured, and I was curious to see what kind of acting job he could pull off outside his normal role of Joey Tribiani. In addition, growing up in the 70’s and 80’s I had many opportunities to watch the original Lost in Space TV show in syndication. Now, I’d wanted to watch it in the theater, but there are so many films I want to see that I can’t possibly see them all! So I rented it at Blockbuster.
The story is like this: The Robinsons are a family that are going to travel to a planet that could sustain human life. The purpose of their trip is to set up a hypergate so that humans can travel quickly between the two planets. However, there is a faction of humans that wish to colonize the planet first and will do anything to stop the rest of the Human race getting there. They pay off Dr. Zachary Smith to sabotage the trip, and then attempt to kill him. Instead, Dr. Smith becomes an unwitting passenger aboard the very vessel he tried to destroy. Out of control and hurtling toward the Sun, the pilot, Major West, tries a daring attempt to enter hyperspace, no matter where it leads them. When they arrive, they have no idea where they are and no way of finding their way back. And thus begins their journey, Lost in Space.
I have to admit, I was not very familiar with the story behind why the Robinson family was “lost in space,” I was mostly in tune with the episodes after. But there they were, along with the evil and foppish Dr. Smith (played wonderfully by Gary Oldman). The revamped and updated technical effects lent a lot to the new version, and the action throughout was very gripping. But there were parts of the film that seemed sluggish, and other parts where it became hard to follow. Some of the story had to do with a time-bubble, which was created by one of the crew members in the future. Now, any time a film or story delves into the realm of time travel, it tends to give me a headache. For one thing, there’s usually some anomaly that could never have happened, like someone meeting themselves and then being surprised. Obviously the future self would hardly be surprised at meeting his past self, because he’d remember meeting his future self from before. The whole prospect is mind numbing.
Regardless, suspend disbelief where the time travel bit is concerned. This film is nothing like the TV show. It’s much better made, has a lot more action, the effects are tons better, and the acting is far less mechanical. Granted, the TV show did not have talent such as Gary Oldman and William Hurt in it. And I have to say, Matt LeBlanc was quite effective as a smarter-than-Joey-but-still-a-dog Major West.
You know, it’s a shame that I have to compare Friends cast members to their TV personalities, but there it is. Still, Lost in Space as an entity unto itself is a better-than-average sci-fi flick, for those so inclined. I liked it enough that I wouldn’t mind seeing it again.