“Danger, Will Robinson.” Attempting to make a serious film out of Irwin Allen’s beloved space family Robinson wasn’t one of Hollywood’s brightest ideas. The filmmakers did a pretty decent job of creating a fun science fiction film, but their obvious attempts at nostalgia never quite gel with the overall vision of the film. Complete with stellar special effects and a much more logical plot than the campy 60’s show, Lost In Space had promise. What New Line failed to understand was the cheese cardboard effects and zipper-toting aliens spun around a totally ridiculous plot was the true charm of Lost In Space. While it was warming to see 4 of the original cast in cameos the two that were missing, Jonathan Harris and Bill Mumy were the true heart of the TV series. The one jewel in this film has to be the performance of Gary Oldman as the indomitable Dr. Smith.
Husband and wife Robinson (Hurt/Rodgers) agree to head an expedition to Alpha Centuri as a vanguard to human colonization of the stars. Earth is dying and new homes are needed urgently. Dr. Smith (Oldman) is hired to sabotage the mission but inadvertently gets trapped along for the ride. The family enters a time bubble that forces them to confront the future as well as the past in order to survive.
Lost In Space contains a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. The audio is perhaps one of the brightest things about this DVD. The film uses ambient sounds aggressively and with often chilling effect. The subtle background sounds of the “Mecha-spiders” had me looking over my shoulder on more than one occasion. Bob May’s enduring voice of the Robot is reproduced with all of its resounding deep tones not possible for TV in the 1960’s. The music often clashes with the assault of explosions at some crucial parts of the film. Dialogue also suffers at times when much more dynamic action is occurring. The bass extension is huge during this film. Your subs will be driving hard most of the way.
There are two commentary tracks on this disc. The most engaging has to be the one that features writer Alkiva Goldsman and director Stephen Hopkins. My only regret is that they were not recorded together so that there is no give and take. This track covers almost every aspect of the film’s creation and a few anecdotes from the set. The second track features a few members of the production staff. A voice indicates who is speaking at any one time. This track tends to flow off subject and I found it quite distracting to the actual film.
Lost In Space is presented in its original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1. I had a very mixed reaction to the transfer. While the print is very clean and the color mostly sharp and realistic, there was a lot of digital artifact present. Some scene transitions were downright distracting. I saw slight evidence of edge enhancement and a bit of shimmering on the bridge sets of the Jupiter 2. I was, however, delighted with the color. There’s a lot of black and shadows in this film and you will find a surprising depth of field here. I never knew that so much could be done in blacks yet portray such variety in shading.
“Building The Special Effects” is standard fare for those who want to see behind the curtain. Much time is spent exploring the “time bubble” effects. “The Future Of Space Travel” seems to concentrate more on the environmental problems we face here on Earth. While I might tend to agree with some of these points I’m not sure this film is the proper forum.
There are tons of deleted scenes which put an entirely different spin on the film itself. There was a mother to Penny’s pet that never made it to the finished film. Some of the effects are missing showing that they were not really deleted at all, merely dropped at some point during production. There’s a trivia game that lets you have a funny blooper reel if you can get through the questions correctly. Some text based features include a look at the TV series, bios, and production notes. The disc includes trailers and production sketches.
The menus are fully animated and accompanied by the voice of the Robot.
Converting TV shows to the big screen will always be a gamble. I found it more enjoyable not to think of this film as connected to the show. It plays much better as a standalone film. If you’re looking for a quick ride you’ll love the disc. If you’re hoping to connect with your childhood you’ll end up saying “Oh, the pain, the pain”.