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Lost in Space(1998)
Professor John Robinson, his wife Maureen, their daughters Judy and Penny, and son Will are selected to be the first family to colonize outer space. Piloted by Major Don West, the Jupiter 2 takes off to Alpha Prime, the only other habitable planet in the galaxy. En route, their spacecraft is sabotaged by arch villain Dr. Zachary Smith, who is intent on foiling their plan. When the Jupiter 2 strays dangerously off course, the Robinson family must band together and use their unique skills to complete their mission or face certain death while they remain "lost in space."
For more about Lost in Space and the Lost in Space Blu-ray release, see Lost in Space Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on September 21, 2010 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: William Hurt, Gary Oldman, Mimi Rogers, Matt LeBlanc, Heather Graham, Lacey Chabert
Director: Stephen Hopkins
» See full cast & crew
Lost in Space Blu-ray Review
Get lost in this quality Blu-ray release.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, September 21, 2010
There's a lot of space out there to get lost in.
Here's the obligatory mention that Lost in Space is yet another modern updating of a classic TV show. Such may be the bane of many a filmgoers, but these updates seem to have something of a better track record than, say, video games-turned movies or straight remakes. No doubt there are some clunkers in the TV-to-movie world; Inspector Gadget and The Dukes of Hazard didn't do their respective series' very proud, but then again, Mission: Impossible and The Fugitive are highly respectable and Oscar-contending films, respectively. Lost in Space falls somewhere in the middle, and probably closer to the better end of the spectrum. Here's a picture that's taken its lumps from critics and fans alike all the way to the scrapping of the supposed sequel that's perfectly set-up in this picture's final seconds. Despite concerns over Lost in Space's stilted acting, overlong runtime, and worthless and visually inept CGI creature (and, oh yes, that last one does deserve the criticism) it's a movie that's got its heart in the right place, a movie that's entertaining and absorbing, and maybe best of all, doesn't insult the intelligence of its audience with a plot constructed only as a frame in which to host the picture's dazzling special effects. Lost in Space may not be the equal of any number of great Science Fiction films, but for mostly family-safe entertainment that doesn't strive be much more than a fun Sci-Fi picture with a bit of heart, a good story, and plenty of CGI wizardry, Director Stephen Hopkins' (Predator 2) picture is hard to beat.
It's the year 2058, and Earth is on the brink of disaster. The ozone layer has been reduced 60% and the planet can no longer adequately sustain life. Man's only hope is to colonize the nearest hospitable world, dubbed "Alpha Prime." Unfortunately, it's many light years away and, although hyperdrive technology exists, a ship's destination when exiting hyperspace is theorized to be completely random without the assistance of a "hypergate" located at fixed starting and ending positions. Making matters more difficult, a separatist movement aims to sabotage the gate orbiting Earth and colonize Alpha Prime first. They've also set their malicious sights on Jupiter Two, the spacecraft that will carry the Robinson family -- father John (William Hurt, Dark City), mother Maureen (Mimi Rogers, Abandoned), daughters Judy (Heather Graham, The Hangover) and Penny (Lacey Chabert, Ghosts of Girlfriends Past), and son Will (Jack Johnson) -- in a state of suspended animation to Alpha Prime where they will begin work on the second "hypergate." With pilot Major Don West (Matt LeBlanc, "Friends") at the controls, Jupiter Two sets off on its mission to save humanity. Sixteen hours into the mission, however, disaster strikes. The ship's powerful robot has been reprogrammed to kill the family. It's stopped at the last moment, but the mission's saboteur, Dr. Zachary Smith (Gary Oldman, The Book of Eli), remains on board. With ship's systems critically damaged and the vessel about to be destroyed, the family turns to their last remaining option: the hyperdrive. Through its timely use they're saved from certain death but hurled into an unknown corner of the galaxy where dangers and destinies lie around every corner.
Lost in Space admittedly plays out with a bit of a cartoonish tenor that doesn't gel all that well alongside its more serious structural and thematic elements. At one moment the film wants to tell a more intelligent "Star Trek"-type story, and in the next it's trying to capture some generic family dynamic or create some unnecessary forced humor that only gets in the way of the good stuff. Lost in Space seems to want to be everything to everyone, and the result is a movie that never quite settles onto an even keel. The serious elements don't negate the lighter story lines and the laughs don't overpower the action and drama, but no doubt parts of Lost in Space feel force-fed into the movie only to give it a wider appeal. It's an old technique and one that more often than not doesn't work, usually because the "supportive" comic relief and awkward romantic subtexts never feel like an integral part of the movie. Fortunately, audiences who can see past the Hollywood elements and enjoy Lost in Space for its decent story and superb special effects will be rewarded with an experience that's not going to redefine the genre or alter one's outlook on the cinematic medium but at least deliver an honest, intriguing, and entertaining two-hour adventure to the furthest reaches of the galaxy where space and time are both friend and foe. Beyond its CGI wizardry lies a story that's actually not without heart and one that's at least built on an engaging and fictionally-believable string of developments. Whether it's all a bunch of hooey or grounded in some sort of real scientific plausibility doesn't really matter in a movie like this; so long as there's an honesty and seriousness to the plot with it taking center stage even ahead of the special effects, then the filmmakers have done right by the material and made an honest movie and not simply put on display the latest in computer technology framed around a shell of a plot.
Nevertheless, that digital artistry seemed mighty impressive back in 1998, and surprise, many of the effects still hold up well today. Lost in Space is nothing less than a bonanza of special effects, most of which manage to play supporting roles in the movie that enhance the story rather than dominate it. No doubt there's several elements the film could have done without -- including that visually subpar and wholly superfluous digital alien animal adopted by Penny -- but there's simply not much here that doesn't in some way help move the story along or at least make it more visually stimulating. Even the picture's practical effects and sets impress; the signature robot (voiced by Dick Tufeld, who also voiced the robot in the TV series) is easily the picture's most gratifying and energetic effect, enhanced by the fact that it's a real, tangible prop rather than a wholly CGI entity. Additionally, the picture's costumes and sets enjoy a sleek, futuristic design that manages to hearken back to classic Sci-Fi of old while still enjoying what is today (both a dozen years ago and now in 2010) a rather modern-looking and forward-thinking design. Last but not least, Lost in Space features some decent-to-good performances from its cast. William Hurt is a bit stiff but effective as the overworked father who's lost sight of his family. Matt LeBlanc sometimes sinks and sometimes swims as the film's comic relief and action hero rolled into one. Lacey Chabert can be annoying as the rebellious teenager. Screen veteran and reliable bad guy Gary Oldman turns in another first-rate performance as the film's villain. Jack Johnson plays the young, wide-eyed, and intelligent Will Robinson -- the character who's really the film's foundation -- very well, and Mimi Rogers is excellent as the picture's most balanced character, Mrs. Robinson. Coo, coo, ca-choo.
Lost in Space Blu-ray, Video Quality
Lost in Space travels onto Blu-ray with a decent 1080p high definition transfer that's frustrating one minute and pleasing the next. Director Stephen Hopkins' picture has "eye candy" written all over it, but the corresponding Blu-ray transfer never quite achieves the sort of pristinely glossy, colorful, and intricate imagery fans might expect of the title. Fortunately, the transfer isn't a total loss and, quite the opposite, more often than not looks "good" but not "great." The image can appear somewhat flat with detailing that's adequate-to-strong but never achieving the level of "exemplary." The transfer handles the cooler, more sterile ship interiors better than it does the various Earth and other planetary elements in both detail and coloring. Colors appear somewhat more drab than what might be expected of a picture like this, while finer details are rarely seen down at the nitty-gritty level of perfection. Several scenes suggest light noise reduction, but visible grain is retained over much of the image, albeit an ever-so-slight layer. Some shots go noticeably soft, most in conjunction with the picture's effects-heavy scenes, though several appear noticeably fuzzy alongside effects-free material. Blacks are a mixed bag, appearing rich and natural here but looking muddled there. Slight-to-moderate background blocking and occasionally light banding are also visible. For all the listed issues, however, Lost in Space more often than not finds a pleasing, but not eye-popping, middle ground that leans more towards a quality transfer than it does a subpar one. The transfer could certainly be better, but Lost in Space translates well enough to Blu-ray.
Lost in Space Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Lost in Space features a high-octane DTS-HD MA 5.1 lossless soundtrack that's incredibly aggressive and wholly satisfying. Lost in Space's Dolby Digital DVD track was one of the better of its era that often found use as demo-quality material, and the Blu-ray's lossless mix retains the same surround-heavy and bass-happy sound effects while adding in superior clarity into the equation. Indeed, the track is packed with an almost nonstop barrage of clean and accurate surround information. Whether discrete effects or whooshing spaceships and laserblasts that traverse the soundstage, there's no lack of exciting and perfectly-integrated sound effects anywhere in the track. Lost in Space also delivers a large, spacious, and wonderfully clear musical presentation that makes use of every speaker in the configuration, centered across a wide front soundstage but supported by a strong but not overwhelming surround structure. Bass is tight and precise; whether Jupiter Two's blast-off from Earth or the robot's bass-y voice, the subwoofer gets a heavy workout throughout the movie. The only real problem of note is dialogue that occasionally sounds a bit shallow, but otherwise, this track borders on perfection. Lost in Space delivers an appropriately aggressive and exciting soundtrack that's the perfect compliment to the movie.
Lost in Space Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Lost in Space makes its Blu-ray debut as a special edition release. Two commentary tracks headline the package, the first with Director Stephen Hopkins and Writer/Producer Akiva Goldsman. This is the more generalized of the two commentaries, covering a wide swath of basic information including the series' transition from small to big screen, the picture's themes, its structure, the characters, casting, and plenty of other relevant but commentary-standard insights. The second track features Visual Effects Supervisor Angus Bickerton, Visual Effects Producer Lauren Ritchie, Director or Photography Peter Levy, Editor Ray Lovejoy, and Producer Carla Fry. No surprise this track focuses much more heavily on the picture's extensive special effects, getting down to the nitty-gritty details of the effects creation, how the actors were integrated into them, the construction of miniatures and props as support elements for the effects, and more. There's also some fascinating discussions revolving around the technical details of the cinematography, editing, and much more. The participants are recorded separately, but their comments are often extensive and extended rather than piecemeal. This gives the track a more coherent and listenable tone that never comes off as jumbled and mismatched, even with the participants all recorded individually. Of the two tracks, the second plays as the more engaging.
Building the Special Effects (480p, 15:56) features Visual Effects Supervisor Angus Bickerton, Animatics Supervisor Mac Wilson, and Computer Graphics Supervisor Lee Danskin discussing several of the picture's 767 effects shots that comprise the movie. Intercut with their comments are several of the picture's effects sequences showcased as works-in-progress. The Future of Space Travel (480p, 9:49) looks at the picture's forward-thinking social elements and the Earth's current shortage of natural resources along with a look at how Science Fiction is looking ahead to building a better future. The piece also looks at the possibility of creating real-life "hypergates," traveling at warp speed, and the current state of astronomy and scientific discovery. Next is Q&A with the Original Cast -- TV Years (480p, 7:35), a short piece that features the original "Lost in Space" cast discussing the series' appeal, staying power, and the history of the show. Also included is a selection of deleted scenes (480p, 11:47), the music video Lost in Space performed by Apollo Four Forty (480p, 3:25), and the film's theatrical trailer (480p, 1:33).
Lost in Space Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Lost in much of the criticism of Lost in Space is that the picture is a playful little entity that doesn't set out to win awards but instead dazzle with its then-revolutionary and still-gratifying special effects while entertaining with a nice bit of Sci-Fi action framed within a story that doesn't insult the intelligence of its audience. Most movies simply don't strive to play as highbrow art, and Lost in Space is no expcetion. Some succeed at capturing a wink-and-a-nod playful tone, and others certainly don't. Fortunately, Lost in Space falls in with the former; Director Stephen Hopkins' picture is good old adventuresome fun. The movie's certainly not perfect, but for effects-heavy, mostly family-friendly blockbuster fare? It comes pretty close to the bullseye. New Line's Blu-ray release of Lost in Space delivers a steady but not pristine 1080p transfer, a wonderful lossless soundtrack, and a decent helping of extras. Recommended.
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Lost in Space Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Warner Announces Sci-Fi Blu-ray Wave - May 10, 2010
Warner Home Video has announced a wave of science fiction movies for release on Blu-ray on September 7: Forbidden Planet (Fred Wilcox, 1956); Lost in Space (Stephen Hopkins, 1998); Mars Attacks! (Tim Burton, 1996); and THX 1138: The George Lucas Director's Cut ...
• Warner Catalog Blu-ray Slate for 2010 Revealed - January 27, 2010
Veteran site DVD Town has published a post revealing the release dates for many titles that Warner Home Video intends to release on Blu-ray during all of 2010, including some bona fide classics, a comedy wave in August, science-fiction in September, a couple of ...
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