STARRING: William Hurt, Gary Oldman, Mimi Rogers, Matt LeBlanc, Heather Graham, Lacey Chabet, Jack Johnson, Jared Harris

1998, 122 Minutes, Directed by: Stephen Hopkins

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Description: Packed with more than 750 dazzling visual effects, this $70 million adventure gives the 1965-68 TV series a state-of-the-art face-lift.  —

Think The Fifth Element but sans Chris Tucker and you will have a reasonably good idea of how Lost In Space is.

Yup, that’s right: it’s another style over content movie. It’s all high-tech production designs and impressive special effects - unlike, I’m told, the campy cheap 1960s television series of the same name that supposedly inspired it (I never saw any of the old TV episodes). But while Lost In Space is gorgeous to look at, it is vacuous beneath its surface.

This should come as no surprise since the movie’s screenplay is written by Akiva Goldsman who also wrote the terrible Batman & Robin screenplay. Fortunately this film is relatively camp- and cheesy one liner-free, so parents need not endure as much as they did like when they took the little ‘uns to see to see that particular piece of mass-marketed crap.

But make no mistake, while there are some one-liners designed for the few adults in the audience, Lost In Space remains a movie mostly aimed at little children and except for some scary scenes involving spider-like monsters, it is a movie to which parents can take their kids with a clean conscience.

"Audiences will have a difficult time understanding what the heck is exactly going on!"

What parents must endure however is a screenplay that starts off promisingly enough with some impressive space battles and an introduction to the plot’s basic premise.

In the distant future earth is unable of sustaining human life anymore and thus plans are set up to construct a portal between earth and a planet earmarked for colonization. A scientist (played by William Hurt) and his family are sent off into outer space to help with this task. Unbeknownst to them there is a saboteur aboard (Gary Oldman in yet another bad guy roll - yet less over-the-top this time around). Soon their mission is interrupted and they are, well, lost in space . . .

It is about here that the plot starts falling apart and audiences will probably have a difficult time understanding - or caring about for that matter - what exactly is going on. In the end the plot also falls apart under its own logic as more and plot holes become achingly obvious and some insipid nonsense about “family values” that would have seemed more appropriate in a sitcom instead is thrown in.

Not to mention an unbearably “cute” space monkey! Sure, at this same time director Hopkins (The Ghost and the Darkness) also increases the frenetic action sequences to generate some audience interest in the onscreen proceedings, but I found my attention wavering.

However, in the end the movie’s target audience should be taken into consideration. No doubt kids will be endlessly entertained by the movie’s impressive hardware. Also, if you’re looking for some two hours or so’s undemanding time spent in a darkened cinema while scoffing popcorn and gulping down a large Coke then Lost In Space just might be the ticket . . .



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