Lost in Space: craptacular remake of 60’s sitcom

“Uninspired” is probably the best word to describe Lost in Space, the newest expensive sci-fi action movie based on a 60’s television show. The fact that Lost in Space is not exactly a work of art should not come as a surprise, but this movie is not even cheesy fun: it is just too dull.

The popular television show “Lost in Space” was reasonably entertaining, but it was not exactly a classic show; the Hollywood studios are beginning to run out of old shows to remake. Here is the premise: in the future, the Robinson family, who are all extremely smart, are journeying to another planet to begin colonization. They are joined by a hotshot pilot, a faithful robot, and a stowaway, who sabotages the mission and gets them all… you know. Sounds simple enough, eh? Well, Hollywood has managed to make a truly crap-tacular film, merely by pandering to the mass audience in the worst way since last year’s Batman & Robin.

The cast isn’t too horrible, but everyone in the movie looks like they’re not trying very hard. Oscar-winner William Hurt looks tired as family patriarch John Robinson, while Gary Oldman sneers his way through his part as the evil Dr. Smith in what must have been a very easy role for him. The other actors, including Matt LeBlanc of “Friends,” deliver performances that can be deemed decent at best.

The real problem with Lost in Space lies in its screenplay. The whole movie plays like the pilot for a new TV series: the characters are introduced and then sketchily developed, leaving plenty of room for future development. The plot is partially sci-fi action and partially family melodrama. The idea was clearly to appeal to as broad an audience as possible ñ if the kids like the action, then Mom and Dad will enjoy the movie’s serious look at a busy family’s dynamics: the “human” touch. While the family melodrama never rises above a sitcom level, the so-called “jokes” in the movie are even worse, amounting to a collection of snappy one-liners and witticisms that anyone with half a brain could write. The movie could have been saved if it had been written to be more campy, less serious. Instead it just exists, bland and mass-produced. Interestingly enough, Akiva Goldsman, the half-brained person responsible for Lost in Spaceís unfortunate screenplay, also brought us the last two Batman movies. Beware that name.

The special effects are okay, but not nearly cutting-edge. The various spaceships and explosions all look decent, but various monsters look pretty fake, and the one “planet” that the family visits is obviously just a big stage. Worst of all is the Robinson family’s new pet, a rambunctious computer-generated space monkey which just looks amazingly fake and cartoonish. Wait, just think about this — a rambunctious space monkey? This is certainly a first. Maybe market research revealed a great, subconscious desire for more space monkeys in sci-fi movies.

I won’t even bother to name the director of this movie, as it was not directed so much as put together by committee, with no particular sense of style or imagination. This is not to say that Lost in Space does not have any redeeming qualities: kids will like it, and people who are unfamiliar with moving pictures will no doubt be amazed by the colors and explosions they see on the screen. Otherwise, save your money and see something else.

1 1/2 stars out of 5