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Review: 'Lost in Space'... and it should be

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April 3, 1998
Web posted at: 11:30 p.m. EST (0430 GMT)

By CNN Movie Reviewer Paul Clinton

(CNN) -- Updated with more than 750 state-of-the-art special effects and a pounding soundtrack, the 1960's TV series "Lost In Space" is now on the big screen.

Once again an idea for a big budgeted feature film has been pulled from old issues of TV Guide.

This time it's the Robinson family aboard its Jupiter 1 spacecraft, and, yes, they're lost in space.

Regurgitating 1960's television concepts onto the big screen has become a cottage industry in Hollywood. So it was only a matter of time before "Lost In Space" was FOUND by a studio suit. The results? Danger, Will Robinson. Danger!

The film opens with a battle in space. Who is fighting whom, and why, is never explained. Then one of the first lines uttered by "Major Don West," better known as Matt LeBlanc, is "the last one to kill a bad guy buys the beer." The dialogue goes downhill from there. Not surprisingly this film is written by Akiva Goldman who brought us that tome of intelligent discourse called "Batman and Robin."

This is high-concept cinema. Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer would be proud. Hit the audience with mindless action in the first frame, and then keep piling it on, and on, and on. The plot be damned.

This is just a guess, but I think there may have been a suggestion box on the set while they were shooting "Lost In Space." Anybody with an idea of any kind could write it down on a scrap of paper, and bingo: it was in the movie. This film contains every cliche in the book. But the special effects and the soundtrack are effective and in overdrive.

Gary Oldman likes to chew a bit of scenery while he's playing a bad guy, and he's at his campy villainous best as "Doctor Smith." William Hurt and Mimi Rogers lend a little weight to their thankless roles as the adult Robinsons. Heather Graham, last seen as Roller Girl in "Boogie Nights," is competent as the brainy oldest daughter, considering what little she has to work with, and young Jack Johnson is a believable Will Robinson. But Lacey Chabert, who plays the youngest daughter, really got on my nerves. Her character is totally irritating. Plus, she looks like she was on the way to an "Addams Family" reunion and took a wrong turn at stage 12.

"Lost In Space" is aimed squarely at the hearts and minds of adolescent boys. But that aim may be off. A friend of mine has a 12-year son. She took him to a screening of "Lost In Space" and he hated it. He felt the film insulted his intelligence. This is not a good thing.

However, the production values are first-rate, even if the costumes seem to be a blend between Marquis de Sade and Bob Mackie, and everyone wears enough hair gel to supply your average beauty salon for a year.

"Lost In Space" shouldn't been seen on video since its major assets are its soundtrack and special effects. So if you have to see it, go to a big theater with a good sound system.

Overall, this movie made me thankful I won't be around in the year 2058.


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