April 4, 1998 -- They'll base a movie on any old television series these days, it seems, even "Lost in Space." While the movie is somewhat better than the drivel that made up the original television series, it does not quite rise to the level of a good action movie.
If you are going to base a movie on a televison series, you ought to at least pick a good series. How about "The Invaders," or "Buck Rogers" or "Babylon 5?"
There are some good things about the movie. For one thing, it has very good special effects and the set design and production values are all good. It also has some excellent actors, including Gary Oldman as Dr. Smith, William Hurt as John Robinson and Mimi Rogers as Maureen Robinson.
These are all fine actors and good performances are expected from them. What is not expected is the rest of the cast is also quite capable. Heather Graham, as Judy Robinson, and Matt LeBlanc as hotshot pilot Don West, hit just the right note while young Jack Johnson does a fine job with Billy Mummy's old role, Will Robinson (Mummy's now a regular on "Babylon 5."
Even these actors, however, cannot completely make up for what is essentially a weak plot with hackneyed dialog. There are hints of cleverness from time to time with in-jokes about "The Waltons" and "Star Trek" sprinkled in the plot and dialogue. There are also cameo roles for a couple of regulars from the old series, Angela Cartwright and June Lockhart, who plays a school teacher.
A film like this has to have just the right tone if it is to balance drama and comedy. It makes a good effort, but doesn't achieve the balance. The subplot about the father, John, not being close enough to his children is strained, to say the least. The romance between Judy and Don is painfully obvious, but it works because the actors do a good job. There are also some logical problems with the plot and some nagging unexplained details.Still, the film does have a lot going for it. There's the lighthearted adventure, fairly good pacing and the aforementioned good acting and special effects. It's a good effort, but not quite a good movie. It rates a C+.
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