The late 90’s were an exciting time for Hollywood blockbusters. No matter how good or how bad the film was, it was sure to experiment with big CGI effects and a large scale far too bulky for the overall budget to handle.
For every memorable success like The Matrix, there was an equally memorable train wreck like Lost In Space. Adapted from the cult TV series, this was Hollywood’s ambitious (to say the least) attempt at turning a campy show into a brooding sci-fi epic while also turning Matt LeBlanc from Friends‘ Joey Tribbiani into a legitimate action star.
I did say it was ambitious.
Indeed, the special effects are probably the highlight of this movie as its scale is actually convincing and you can tell that a lot of money was poured into the project with genuine hopes of making it a hit. The rest of the cast includes William Hurt, Mimi Rogers, Heather Graham, Jared Harris and Gary Oldman as Dr. Smith, this movie’s obvious and amusingly cartoonish villain. Oldman and Harris appear to be the only ones having a good time in this movie as everyone else is either awkward, trying too hard (Lacey Chabert’s character is unbelievably annoying) or completely bored.
Sadly, it becomes apparent very quickly that LeBlanc is woefully miscast in this as he struggles to shake off his Joey persona throughout and looks more like one of the character’s purposely bad acting roles in Friends than a believable leading man. It doesn’t help that the script is a disaster with some of the worst dialog you’ll hear in any major blockbuster.
Oldman has fun hamming it up throughout and, as a result, he’s the best thing in the movie by far. The aforementioned special effects look decent for the most part but some, like the fully CGI monkey-like alien creature and Dr. Smith’s transformation in the film’s climax, look frankly unfinished making this extremely hit-and-miss in terms of visuals.
The tone yo-yo’s between serious space-set sci-fi action and campy comedy much too often and, by the end, you’ll still be wondering if the whole thing was meant to be a spoof or if it was actually trying to be good. That said, the time travel plot it introduces in its second half did have some potential and at least kept things interesting, even though it was handled poorly. The film does have its nostalgic aspects like the reliably over-dramatic robot and a delightfully bitchy Dr. Smith but, overall, it fails to capture the charm of the original show while also telling a messy, at times dull story with lots of flashy effects but no consistency or likeable/convincing heroes.
I can’t recommend this one as anything other than a curiosity. If you enjoy watching Hollywood blockbusters gone wrong then this is a safe bet, otherwise you might want to steer clear as it’s nowhere near as fun as it looks and it is most definitely a bad movie.
Oh the pain…
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