The subtitle of Lost in Space should be Dumb and Dumber.
Lost in Space is probably in strong contention for next year's Razzie for worst picture. It's rather ironic that it took a picture of lower quality than the Titanic to knock it off its grip on first place in the weekly receipts. Lost in Space is one of the stupidest movies ever made. The same person who wrote the screenplay for Batman and Robin wrote this equally awful screenplay for Lost in Space. The name is Akiva Goldsman and we should all know by now to stay far far away from any movie with his name on it.
[[[note from '02 - well, he finally did grow out of it, and, eventually became a better writer - he won an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for A Beautiful Mind.]]]
There are some wonderfully amusing and inventive points to the flick, but most of them are exposed and giggled at in the first 20 minutes or so. Particularly amusing was listening to a holographic principal (played by June Lockhart) complain about Will's computer hacking. Meanwhile, Will is busy hacking the principal's image, so she changes from a principal to a monster to a woman in a bikini.
There's a space fight which is pretty exciting - it's very fast and the camera makes some unexpected gyrations. But the spaceships used are completely illogically modelled - it came off as an exercise to presell a video game rather than do any kind of character development or plot advancement.
In the beginning, there is some attempt to ground the characters in a little bit of reality. The younger kids do not want to leave everything they know and go into space. Penny is way more rebellious than the Penny of the TV series, and Judy (thank goodness) is given a little more than to stand around and look pretty. There's also a funny ongoing bit with Penny using a video cam in a bracelet as a diary. But any flair for the characters goes out the window once the group takes off for outer space.
Dr. Smith (Gary Oldman) does his bit of sabotague and then winds up stuck on a space ship that he's set to have destroyed by the robot (a much more menacing critter than the TV vintage). Everyone survives (surprise!) when the spaceshit (oops, Fruedian slip there) is flung out into the vast reaches of uncharted space.
And then the movie goes from Dumb (time dilation, the lots of carniverous alien spiders who can live in outer space) to even Dumber (the single worst exploration of time travel ever filmed). William Hurt has forgotten how to be anything other than very remote and Matt LeBlanc is just awful.
With so much good written science fiction out there, it would be nice to see a literate, intelligent adaptation brought to the big screen. Many of us hope that Antonio Bandares and his production company remember this when they adapt The Sparrow. Unfortunately, Hollywood often goes to recycling TV shows (which, as Star Trek has shown, can work some of the time) or to unleashing monsters (Godzilla/Jurassic Park).