'Lost in Space' a Fun Ride

By Aeron Ives
"Lost in Space," which opened nationally on April 3, is a slick, spectacular-looking production based on the cheesy sci-fi series of the same name, and is sure to be enjoyable for the whole family.
Our heroes are the Robinson family: Captain John and wife Maureen (William Hurt, Mimi Rogers); punk rocker daughter Penny (Lacey Chabert of TV's "Party of Five"); brilliant, but largely ignored, son Will (Jack Johnson); and daughter Judy (Heather Graham). Matt LeBlanc (Joey on "Friends") plays hotshot pilot Major Don West, and Gary Oldman plays, as usual, a psychotic-the evil Dr. Smith.
The story setup is simple. Smith sabotages the ship, but is accidently stranded on board himself. In order to escape from the gravity field of a sun, they engage their Hyperdrive, which sends them to an unknown part of the galaxy. Now they have to find a way to get home. The story is generally this thin and straightforward, though it does take an interesting turn in the end.
The characters, unfortunately, are mostly shallow. With his cold seriousness, William Hurt was a poor choice for the lead character; worse, the obsessed scientist who ignores his family thread is old and tired. Mimi Rogers has little to do except warn her husband not to ignore poor little Will Robinson, then act like it isn't such a big deal after all. Gary Oldman is his usual sinister self, which is only interesting if you haven't seen him play the same essential character before. Surprisingly, Matt LeBlanc's Major West is the most interesting character. West is arrogant, hormonally-driven, and has his intelligence questioned several times, similar in many ways to LeBlanc's character on "Friends." But, like Joey Tribbiani, West is endearing in a strange sort of way. His relationship with Judy (Heather Graham) is never in doubt, but getting there is fun along the way. And what of the robot and its famous line "Danger, Will Robinson"? Hearing the robot speak in its so-deadpan-that-it's-ridiculous voice drew laughs more than anything.
The defining character of "Lost in Space" is really not a character at all: From the breathtaking opening to the alien spiders to the computer graphics, the focus has clearly been on the look of the film. It is the most unique and best-looking film since "The Fifth Element"-which also starred Gary Oldman as the villain. It is unfortunate that such care was not taken in casting or in the writing of the story. As it is, however, "Lost in Space" is a little over two hours of mostly clean fun for the family. Sure it's shallow and cheesy at times, but cheese is rarely this much fun.

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