Friday, 1 May 2009

DVD Review - Lost In Space

The film starts off with an space dogfight so cheesy that even Top Gun would have been ashamed of it. Akiva Goldsman is responsible for the screenplay and the dialogue owes more to the terribleness of Batman & Robin than the genius of A Beautiful Mind, both of which he also scripted. Tough guy Major Don West (Matt LeBlanc) is called in to pilot the Robinson family (complete with stereotypical mostly-absent father Prof. John Robinson [William Hurt]) into deepest space in a bid to save humanity. He naturally falls for Robinson`s insanely irritating daughter, Judy (Heather Graham), on the sensible grounds that she`s the only eligible woman he`s likely to see for the next few decades. It all seems to be taken from a set of stock characters and plotlines that we know all too well.

Mimi Rogers only has one decent scene as John`s wife Maureen, not that she exactly makes the most of it. Hurt himself does a decent enough job with a fairly uninteresting part, while Gary Oldman (as Dr Zachary Smith)as the bad guy has lots of fun, though it`s hardly his best work. I didn`t find Matt LeBlanc`s character particularly convincing even though he`s actually meant to be a stereotype! The main problem is that I identify him so strongly with his character in Friends. I just kept thinking, "Aw, little Joey`s got himself a big film role!" The younger kiddies, Penny and Will (played by Lacey Chabert and Jack Johnson) do a pretty good job with their parts.

Despite its failings however the script does rise above the mediocre from time to time. Sadly just when it starts to get genuinely good it decides to throw in a very silly time-travel element, which is dicey business at best. There is one interesting plot twist to be gained from this but it doesn`t work very well overall. It`s good clean fun though for the most part, and the majority of the film is enjoyable if not exactly ground-breaking. Speaking of ground-breaking, for its time Lost In Space apparently had more special effects than any other film. ("More special effects than Star Wars!", boasts the cover proudly.) The quantity is certainly impressive but the quality, on occasions, less so. Still, most of the time it looks pretty good. The pacing is a little off key but the action does come thick and fast for the most part, largely masking the weakness of the script.

Another strange first the film achieves (at least in my opinion) is that they seem to have managed to bring together the three most annoying female voices in Hollywood together. The cumulative effect of the whining / squeaking of Rigers, Graham, and Chabert is enough to drive anyone to drink. No wonder John Robinson didn`t want to spend much time with his family!

So there you have it. Overall it`s an inoffensive little film (apart from the female characters` voices, that is) that has delusions of grandeur and ideas far above its stations. Kids will enjoy it more but there`s enough in it for adults to enjoy to make it worth watching. I wouldn`t particularly recommend it to adult action fans, but as a family film that`s watchable enough for mum and dad too it`s not bad.

The DVD package is, as usual, disappointing. There`s a Special Effects featurette that occasionally threatens to be interesting but after a while you realise it`s an idle threat. There are two music videos, both of which are fantastic? if you want to induce a severe migraine attack. Marginally on the plus side we get some design stills, deleted scenes (though for the most part it`s obvious why they were deleted!), crew info, and some trailers. The quality of the DVD print and sound is very good.

Other Details

Running time: 130 minutes approx
Languages: English
Letterbox Ratio: 16:9
Rating (UK): PG

See also my Top Ten Children's Movies

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