Film: Lost in Space

Lost in Space (1998) is a science fiction film adaptation of the 1965-68 television series of the same name. It was directed by Stephen Hopkins and stars William Hurt and Gary Oldman.

In the not-too-distant future, Earth will soon be rendered uninhabitable due to extensive, irreversible harm from pollution. The United Global Space Force plans to colonize a distant planet so that Earth's population can relocate. Unbeknownst to them, a terrorist organization called the Global Sedition plans to disrupt the USGF's plans in order to take over the same planet themselves.

Because, ummm... they're evil. Or something.

Professor John Robinson, the head scientist of the Jupiter mission, plans to take his family on a ten-year space mission in suspended animation to the nearby planet Alpha Prime to build a companion hypergate to the one near Earth. Shortly after launch, however, their voyage is sabotaged, forcing them to take desperate measures to avoid certain death. One random hyperjump later, The Robinsons and their unwilling stowaway Dr. Smith are the sort of lost that only comes when you have an entire galaxy to get lost in.

This Film contains examples of:

  • Arbitrary Skepticism: John Robinson frequently dismisses Will's ideas on time travel, despite having built a hyperdrive engine that works by folding two points of space-time together. Because extending the application of such a device to allow travel along the fourth dimension is any less plausible?
  • Catch Phrase: The film works in all the catch phrases from the series.
  • Chekhov's Gun: "Eww, they eat their wounded."
  • Collapsible Helmet: Major West has a cool military-issue one that covers his head in steel armor.
  • Comically Missing the Point: In the film, John Robinson informs us that the Earth has ended all war and conflict... then immediately afterwards, comments on the Global Sedition who like to perform terrorist attacks on their installations. Err, run that by us again, Doc? Smith even tells Major West that he himself served in the "Millennial Wars" which just shows that it can't be that long the world has lived in peace. Maybe Robinson isn't counting terrorism.
  • Conflict Ball: John to Will when being merely neglectful somehow wasn't enough to make him a bad father.
  • Conspicuous CG: Blaarp and Spider Smith. While detailed models and good CG for the time, the lighting seems off on both.
  • Conveniently Close Planet: Twice.
    • The Jupiter 2 is set off on its voyage, and then is knocked off course 16 hours after leaving Earth. They open up the windows and Oh Crap! - we're heading into the Sun! Realistically, the Sun shouldn't be near their route just 16 hours into the trip.
    • A window in time opens up to the Proteus, which is near a conveniently earth-like planet.
  • Department of Redundancy Department
    Judy: I don't like the sound of that sound.
  • Do a Barrel Roll: The Jupiter 2's original attempt to escape the planet failed due to insufficient power resulting in the destruction of the ship and deaths of everyone aboard. The second time they attempt the escape, John decides to escape by flying the ship down into the rapidly disintegrating planet, gaining enough speed to escape by the time the planet has completely torn itself apart before they fly out the other side.
  • Dull Surprise: John Robinson, notoriously. He's been even described as looking stiffer than the movie's robot. Unfortunately he has the most screentime. In fact, the rest of the crew qualify too, apart from perhaps Major West, and certainly Penny and Dr. Smith.
  • Expy: Spider Smith is a combination of The Thing (1982) and Edgar Bug's true form in Men In Black.
  • The Film of the Series
  • Government Conspiracy: The government lied to the populace that the recycling technologies will work, so the departure date was moved up.
  • Hate Sink: Dr. Smith, as expected.
  • Here We Go Again: The penultimate line in the film. Doesn't quite come to fruition.
  • Idiot Ball:
    • John Robinson is going to Alpha Prime to lead the team that will begin construction of the Hypergate that will connect to Earth, being in stasis for the ten year journey there. In that time, the Earth Gate will be hopefully completed in Earth orbit. Sounds good, except it won't have anything to connect to! Construction at Alpha Prime won't even begin until he arrives and when he does, it should take another ten years to build their Gate! Thus, it will take 20 years until the project is complete, the exact amount of time the planet has left until it dies. Either no-one realizes this, or they do and don't point it out, but either way, isn't this plan cutting it pretty close, Doc? This also leads to the question of why the Jupiter 2 has a hyperdrive when even John admits it's worthless without a complimenting Hypergate. Unless he intends to fly back home once he arrives, which he clearly doesn't, installing it is merely an excuse to get the Jupiter 2 lost.
    • Major West detonates the Proteus fusion drive to kill the alien spiders, not even bothering to get clear first. He justifies this as them being a "continuing threat", but they weren't. His trick to draw them away by merely activating the drive worked, and they could have flown away safely and detonated the drive well out of range.
  • "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight: When the Robot (2.0) is hijacked by Smith (again) Will uses a Power of Friendship speech to try and get the Robot realize that they were friends and if it followed Smith's commands, Will and everyone else would die. With a little effort (and a minor Freak Out), the Robot managed to override Smith's hacking.
  • Jerkass: Dr. Smith.
  • Large Ham: Gary Oldman, as Dr. Smith.
  • Motor Mouth: Penny, in the movie, at least in her video diaries.
  • Mythology Gag: The Chariot and Space Pod vehicles from the original series are reported to be damaged here.
  • Power Armor: In the film, Major West has a set, complete with a Collapsible Helmet, that he uses to protect the Robinsons from the spider monsters.
  • Role Reprisal: With the 1998 film, Dick Tufeld would reprise his role of Robot.
  • Sequel Hook: In the movie, the crew are forced to use the warp drive without a gate again, sending them to potentially anywhere in the galaxy. The commentary has Akiva Goldsman excitedly talking about his plans for the sequel, which comes off as rather sad now, especially since it sounds like he was saving a lot of his better ideas for it.
    • There's also some implication that the star charts from the future-ship they encountered will allow them to warp to the right place, but it's never stated directly.
    • Not to mention, the fact that at the end of the film, Dr Smith is still alive, still a mutant and still The Starscream.
  • Shout-Out: The movie somehow manages to have ones to The Waltons (in the scene where the family all say "Good night" to each other - lampshaded when West says "You have got to be kidding") and, despite the unlikeliness of anyone outside Britainnote  getting it, Dad's Army (in the scene where Smith runs into the cabin at the end, as they're about to blast off into space, wailing "We're doomed! We're doomed!").
    • The latter could also simply be a Mythology Gag, referring to Smith's pessimistic outbursts from the series.
  • Smart Gun: The onboard guns have voice locks to restrict their use to authorized personnel only.
  • Spaceship Slingshot Stunt
  • Spider Swarm: The Spiders appear to be collective, or at least attack in large number.
  • Theme Tune Cameo: Although Bruce Broughton wrote his own theme for the movie, the third-season theme still appears in a techno form during the end credits.
  • Title Drop: "There's lots of space out there to get lost in."
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: There is an alien spaceship docked to the Proteus. This plotline is essentially dropped. You have to infer its connection to the plot, but whose ship is it? Did the spiders, blarp or both arrive on it? Did it arrive before or after the crew left? We never find out.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Smith's contact in the Global Sedition tries to do this to him early on, right after he's completed his sabotage of the Jupiter II. Later, the mutated Smith himself tries this on grown-up Will. It doesn't work either time.