Lost in Space (1998) [Blu-ray]

Genre(s): Action / Adventure / Science Fiction
Warner Brothers || PG13 - 130 minutes - $24.98 || September 7, 2010
Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2010-09-04


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

.:: V I D E O ::.
Video

.:: A U D I O ::.
Audio

B L U - R A Y
.:: EXCLUSIVES ::.

Blu-ray Exclusives

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: Stephen Hopkins
Writer(s): Irwin Allen (television series); Akiva Goldsman (screenplay)
Cast: Gary Oldman, William Hurt, Mimi Rogers, Heather Graham, Matt LeBlanc, Lacey Chabert, Jack Johnson


Theatrical Release Date: April 3, 1998


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • 2 Feature Commentaries
  • 3 Featurettes
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Music Video
  • Theatrical Trailer


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Widescreen (2.40)
  • English (DTS-HD MA 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese

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.::THE FILM::.

TV to movie adaptations rarely work with The Fugitive possibly being the exception to the rule. Lost in Space, in most circles, IS the rule and while I do in part agree, the few times I have seen it over the years, I never thought it was an awful movie and in fact has a few nice moments. However, they are only moments and in a 130-minute film, it’s not nearly enough.

Professor John Robinson (WILLIAM HURT) is a genius and apparently the only hope for life in the galaxy beyond the planet Earth. He agrees to explore whether or not life on the Planet Alpha Prime is habitable by taking his family with him. Why would he put them in harm’s way? Because of his selfish ideals that he wants to become more of a family since beforehand, he would be in a lab rather than be at home eating dinner; working on formulas or calculations than attending a science fair for his son.

Along with John, the rest of The Robinson Family is comprised of mother Maureen (MIMI ROGERS), medical doctor Judy (HEATHER GRAHAM), melodramatic/bratty teen Penny (LACEY CHABERT) and neglected genius son Will (JACK JOHNSON). Serving as their “babysitter” since their ship Jupiter 2 is fully automated is Major John West (MATT LEBLANC), a hotshot pilot who goes against commanding officer orders but to save fellow soldiers fighting terrorists bent on destroying a portal that would make it possible to jump from one part of the Universe to the other end in no time.

However, something afoul is going on and that something is Dr. Zachary Smith (GARY OLDMAN), a man pretending to be friends of the Robinsons but is on the payroll to sabotage the Jupiter 2. While they are in hypersleep, the spaceship’s robot is set to “Destroy Robinson Family!” two hours into mission. But there’s one little problem: after Smith reroutes the robot’s directives, the person behind the sabotage turns the tables on Smith trying to electrocute Smith via his communicator, leaving Smith unconscious when the ship takes off leaving him to the same fate as the Robinson family.

As the time approaches for the robot to kill, Smith manages to save the family and John West (in order to save himself) but the systems have been damaged and the ship is off course, flies through some sort of worm hole and go into a system that had yet to even be charted. Within this new region lays much danger, not to mention they still must deal with Dr. Smith who for some reason or another still wants to sabotage everyone while, you know, LOST IN SPACE! Seems self destructive... Even stranger things occur when they come upon a ship they’ve never seen but it is human but inside is a bunch of big ass spiders which the Robinsons and company must escape from.

Lost in Space is just a lost cause of a film and that’s saying something when you have two well respected actors like William Hurt and Gary Oldman in your film, but everything from the story, screenplay and direction all seem to be devoid of coherency and down-to-earth entertainment value.

The screenplay was written by none other than Akiva Goldsman who you can either attribute to the clichéd but effective A Beautiful Mind, some writing on the mysteriously brilliant “Fringe” or you may remember him for one of the worst movies ever made... Batman & Robin. Goldsman has also had his hand in writing and/or producing on various projects as well like I Robot, I Am Legend, Hancock and *shiver*, Jonah Hex. Looking over his resume, one can see a half decent writer but I just see a brilliant businessman with glimmers of brilliance every so often. Lost in Space belongs down in the trenches with some of his worst.

In terms of direction, the film was helmed by Stephen Hopkins, the man behind Predator 2, The Ghost and the Darkness and various TV projects (including “24”). The problem I found with Hopkins is that there is no life behind these clichéd characters or the story and instead comes across as just another genre picture with a story that comes off more complicated and in depth than it actually was. So in combination between Goldsman’s lackluster screenplay and Hopkins’ ho-hum direction, you’ve got a 1-2 punch of commonness.

The cast on the surface seems alright. When you get past Hurt and Oldman, Mimi Rogers has certainly proven to be a capable actress who crops up every so often (like in a recent direct-to-video movie I saw, Abandoned), Heather Graham who has seemed to have dropped off after the late ‘90s, Lacey Chabert whose career hasn’t done much since her stint on “Party of Five” and Matt LeBlanc an actor who has gone the way much like many of his fellow “Friends” co-stars sans perhaps Jennifer Aniston, though even she hasn’t lit up the box office.

Overall, Lost in Space is an exercise in unfulfilled potential as this should have been a fun movie but instead we get something that was sloppy than anything else. I can forgive the film for lackluster visual effects (the device that goes over the eyes during the hypersleep and the creature were both lowlights) but I cannot forgive it for a poor screenplay and just an all around ho-hum story.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

From what I can gather, all the features from the DVD have been ported over here.

Feature Commentaries – There are two commentary tracks here: the first is with Director Stephen Hopkins and Writer/Producer Akiva Goldsman and the second has a slew of people including Visual Effects Supervisor Angus Bickerton, Visual Effects Producer Lauren Ritchie, Director of Photography Peter Levy, Editor Ray Lovejoy and Producer Darla Fry. Now, each person on both tracks were recorded separately so it’s not as cohesive as I like but between the two you should just almost everything about this project.

Building the Special Effects (15:56; SD) featurette examines the amount of visual effects done for Lost in Space with some early test shots with one VFX techie explaining it all.

The Future of Space Travel (9:49; SD) examines the various factors into space travel and the realities we face. Like the previous featurette, there’s nothing too special about this and you will get far better information from “The Universe” TV series, though it is quite funny when one person talks about possible space tourism possibly within the next 10 years... well, that interview was probably recorded 12 years ago.

Q&A with the Original Cast – TV Years (7:35; SD) – As the title suggests, we get some text questions against a black screen and then various members from the original TV series answer the questions.

Deleted Scenes (11:47; SD) – The scenes aren’t that special and of course the digital effects are not finished. These offer nothing to the film and probably can be skipped.

Last up is Apollo Four Forty’s music video (3:25; SD) for the theme song and the theatrical trailer (1:33; SD) which is oddly the only feature that is in widescreen.



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

Lost in Space is presented in its original 2.40 aspect ratio and in 1080p high-definition. As a film that is now 12 years old – once again, how time flies – and looks pretty good in HD. The detail levels are well defined while colors are fairly muted especially when they go to space where the darker elements take over. I did notice that at certain times the picture does look a tad oversaturated where the darker scenes seem to bleed over into the colorful parts of the set. I’m not sure if this was intentional or not but it doesn’t make for a pretty picture.

Meanwhile, the 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio was, admittedly, on the disappointing side yet still sounds good enough and probably on par with older films made around the same time. The center channel seems to get used the most since there is plenty of dialogue but the side and rear speakers are utilized for the numerous action sequences. The film does offer some depth such as during the Penny Cam moments her voice goes beyond the center channel and spreads to the side and rear channels as well.



.::OVERALL::.

The original is much beloved but having never seen it, I’m only coming at this as a casual movie fan and on that level Lost in Space pretty much fails. The features don’t offer much if anything and the video and audio are on par with what I would expect from a catalog title.