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Film / Lost in Space

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John Robinson: This database has starmaps of all the known galaxy.
Major West: I don't recognize a single system.
Penny Robinson: We're lost...aren't we?

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.

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 plunging into the sun. 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:

  • 20 Minutes into the Future: The series takes place in 1997, but in the film likely take place at some point in the 21st Century.
  • Action Prologue: The opening space battle around the hypergate.
  • Advertised Extra: Despite Heather Graham being featured prominently in the advertising, Judy spends most of the film's first half unconscious, and does easily the least out of any of the main characters after she does wake up.
  • 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?
  • Artistic License – Physics:
    • The Jupiter II is launched from the Jupiter I, a booster rocket shaped like a Flying Saucer. This is a pretty bad design for a booster, considering the massive amount of air resistance such a design would generate when flying straight up, which is how it is launched.
    • Subverted when the Jupiter II uses its hyperdrive to fly right through the sun. Contrary to popular belief, the sun is only hyper-dense at the core; most of it is low-density but super-hot plasma that an object could easy pass through if it didn't stay long enough to melt.
  • Alien Blood: The spiders have blue blood. As does the mutant Dr. Smith. Truth in Television as real life spiders actually do have blue blood.
  • Awful Wedded Life: The movie opens with quite a strain on John and Maureen's marriage. They make an effort to never fight in front of the children, but Penny observes it really wasn't hard to see through the attempt. They naturally work through it through the course of the movie.
  • Big Bad: Played with; Dr. Smith is responsible for sabotaging the mission, but doesn't necessarily spend the movie antagonizing the heroes out of self-preservation. His future self Spider-Smith, on the other hand, plays this trope straight, but he doesn't make his presence known until the movie's end.
  • Big Creepy-Crawlies: The alien spiders.
  • Big Eater: If Blarp eating an apple on the jungle planet at one point in the movie is any indication.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Dr. Smith once his true colors are soon revealed.
  • Bizarre Alien Biology: The spiders seem to be made of metal and can heat their teeth up to the point they can melt through bulkhead doors. They can also, simply by scratching a victim, infect them with The Virus that hybridizes said victim with their DNA and causes them to become a gestator for their young, ensuring their subsequent offspring will be adapted to the survivor's environment They are also capable of surviving in space.
  • Blind Jump: The hyperdrive will dump the travellers in a random point in the galaxy if used without a hypergate.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: The Robot. Twice.
  • Bullet Time: This gets featured during the hyperdrive jump, a year before The Matrix acted as the Trope Codifier.
  • Catchphrase: 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 extends from his collar to cover 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. Technically, he says the "warring nations of Earth". Just because governments have united doesn't mean their citizens have.
  • Conflict Ball: John to Will when being merely neglectful somehow wasn't enough to make him a bad father.
  • 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.
  • Death by Adaptation: An unusual example: in the midst of his Info Dump talking about how the power core is spent and there's damages on the Jupiter, West casually mentions that the Chariot and Pod were completely wrecked in the crash.
  • Department of Redundancy Department
    Judy: I don't like the sound of that sound.
  • Description Cut: At the mission press conference, John is asked how the kids are taking to the idea of going across the galaxy.
    John: They couldn't be more excited.
    (cut to the Robinson house)
  • Dirty Coward: Doctor Smith wouldn't be this character without this trope coming into effect.
  • 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.
  • Embarrassing Tattoo: Judy finds a scar on Major West's shoulder that he sheepishly admits is from a tattoo removal, it was an ex-girlfriend's name.
  • Enemy Mine: Dr. Smith sabotaged the Robot, only to be betrayed by the people he was hired by. Once conscious, he found he was stuck on the ship with the threat he created. Not wanting to die, he awakened the Robinsons to help stop the rampaging behemoth.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Even if he doesn't know it yet, Smith shielded Will from seeing the Robinson family graves, not knowing that a future timeline had killed them.
  • Expy: Spider Smith is a combination of The Thing (1982) and Edgar Bug's true form in Men in Black. He also seems to resemble and draw inspiration from the Xenomorphs from the film Alien in that like the Xenomorphs, Spider Smith is shown to be quite tall. The only difference however is that the Xenomorphs have no long necks, no visible eyes, and only have two arms.
  • Extreme Omnivore: This is naturally one of Blarp's species traits.
  • The Film of the Series: Of Lost in Space.
  • Flying Saucer: The Jupiter I booster rocket has this design, as a means to hold the Jupiter 2 until it's launched into orbit.
  • Follow in My Footsteps: Judy spent the previous three years following in the scientific footsteps of John (who, it's noted, did not want to be in the military like his own father).
  • Freudian Excuse: John's difficulties being a family man (particularly towards Will) and his focus on work at their expense are attributed to how his own father (a famed military figure) was very much the same way.
  • Future Spandex: The Jupier II crew wears form-fitting space clothes.
  • Gaia's Lament: From what little we see of it, Earth of 2058 is a polluted, overpopulated world on its last legs. The Robinson's mansion is inside a dome surrounded by skyscrapers and superhighways, and Professor Robinson informs Major West that the planet only has about 20 years before it's completely uninhabitable.
  • Government Conspiracy: The government lied to the populace that the recycling technologies will fix the Earth's environment, so the departure date of the Jupiter was moved up.
  • Ghost Ship: The Proteus, even lampshaded by Smith.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: The Global Sedition is a terrorist organization responsible for hiring Smith to sabotage the crew's ship, but defeating them isn't the purpose of the plot.
  • Hate Sink: Dr. Smith, as expected.
  • Here We Go Again!: The penultimate line in the film. Doesn't quite come to fruition.
  • Homeworld Evacuation: The plan is to evacuate Earth's population to Alpha Prime once the hypergate gets finished.
  • Horde of Alien Locusts: Well, horde of alien spiders, but one ravenous, swarming arthropod is as good as another, right?
  • Hypocritical Humor:
    Will Robinson: Oh, shit.
    Dr. Smith: A boy of your intelligence should never swear. Oh, shit.
  • 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.
  • If You Kill Him, You Will Be Just Like Him!: Why John doesn't kill Smith. At least, not until Smith becomes a literal monster.
  • I Hate Past Me: Spider Smith hates Past Smith for his "crude ambitions." He also mentions that he never liked himself anyway. He almost kills Past Smith when he meets him. This could have been a Too Dumb to Live moment, considering that if he kills his past self he'd be erased from existence, but John had already openly reflected that the nature of the current temporal paradoxes meant that actions in their time wouldn't affect this future directly.
  • IKEA Weaponry: Major West has a set of attachments for his pistol to convert it into a double-barreled assault rifle.
  • "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.
  • Jurisdiction Friction: John is overall in command of the mission, but West gets to take over in military situations. This flares up over West's decision to detonate the Proteus fusion drive, which leaves the ship crashed on a nearby planet. John is livid that his order to halt being brazenly ignored, while West defends himself by saying he was still in charge at the time and got to make the call. Maureen has to shame them both for carrying on like children when they've got work to do.
  • Large Ham: Gary Oldman as Dr. Smith. Lacey Chabert as Penny has her moments, too.
  • Likes Older Men: Penny, possibly, but it's Played for Laughs, therefore removing the potential Squick factor. She has a playful moment with Major West and dismisses him. He grins and winks at her as he leaves. Penny takes a moment to appreciate him as he walks away, but again, in a funny way, not a gross way, as we know West is crushing appropriately on her older sister.
    Penny: (to her video diary) Ouch. Could he be cuter? (she tilts her head, watching him go) I don't think so.
    Will: (walks by without stopping) Breathe, Penny. Breathe!
  • Madness Mantra: The Robot keeps repeating his new, evil Prime Directives as he runs rampant through the Jupiter 2
    Robot: Destroy all operating systems. Destroy Jupiter 2. Destroy Robinson family. Destroy!
  • The Milky Way Is the Only Way: It's implied a hyperdrive without a gate will send you anywhere in our own galaxy.
  • Military Maverick: Major West's character in a nutshell.
  • Mix-and-Match Critters: Blarp being an alien chameleon monkey hybrid. Blarp is even shown changing colors at one point like a chameleon, changing from a bright maroon color to yellow with orange and blue spots.
  • Motile Vehicular Components: Starfighters are built around a bubble cockpit, which remains vertically stable as the ship maneuvers. The bulk of the ship turns around the cockpit in-flight.
  • 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. And the mothership that launches the Jupiter 2, the Jupiter 1, is a dead-ringer for the series' Jupiter 2.
  • No One Gets Left Behind: According to the log found on the Proteus, West's friend Jeb spent years searching for him out of devotion to their friendship and West previously saving his life.
  • Noodle Incident: While grousing about his current assignment before lift-off, West mutters about having been in 50 different combat situations.
  • Obviously Evil: Dr. Smith, and yet they let him roam around the ship.
  • Papa Wolf: John over Dr. Smith's betrayal that landed them all into being lost, though he ultimately can't bring himself to go as far as killing the man. Smith's spider form is a much different story, as John shows no hesitancy in trying to kill a literal monster and successfully doing so.
  • Perky Goth: Penny. She understandably resentful of her absent, overworking (and frankly emotionless) father and being forced to leave Earth behind, but starts to warm up to the mission as time goes on, even befriending a little alien companion.
  • Portal Network: The Jupiter 2's mission is to start one, building a second gate in orbit of Alpha Prime to allow instantaneous travel between it and Earth.
  • 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.
  • Ramming Always Works: When the away team is trapped on the Proteus by a malfunctioning airlock door, Will decides to just ram right through it with the Robot.
  • Recycled Soundtrack: The main title sounds very similar to composer Bruce Broughton's piece "Cody's Flight" from The Rescuers Down Under. This is even more apparent in "The Launch".
  • Remake Cameo: A few, all during the early parts of the movie.
    • Mark Goddard plays the General that is Major West's direct superior.
    • June Lockhart plays Will's principal.
    • Marta Kristen and Angela Cartwright play reporters during the press conference.
  • Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves: Dr. Smith sold out the mission to the Global Sedition in exchange for a hefty payday. Once he finishes reprogramming the Robot to do the job, he is himself betrayed and left to die aboard the Jupiter II.
  • Same Language Dub: For some reason, most of Jared Harris' dialogue was re-dubbed by Lex Lang, something he wasn't even aware of until the premiere. It's pretty sloppy too, sometimes a line will start with Harris and suddenly switch to Lang mid-sentence.
  • Sequel Hook: In the movie, the crew are forced to use the hyperdrive 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 has the potential to become a mutant and still The Starscream.
  • Set Right What Once Went Wrong: Future Will spent decades building a time machine, so he could travel back to Earth just before the launch of the Jupiter 2 and stop it from taking off, saving them from Smith and the Robot.
  • 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.
  • Sleeper Starship: The Robinsons were supposed to spend 10 years in stasis on the journey to Alpha Prime.
  • Smart Gun: The onboard guns have voice locks to restrict their use to authorized personnel only.
  • Spaceship Slingshot Stunt: When the ship has insufficent fuel to escape the soon-to-collapse planet, John instead suggests they fly through the planet as its breaking apart, using the gravity to throw themselves clear once they reach the other side.
  • Spider Swarm: The Spiders appear to be collective, or at least attack in large number.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Don West and Dr. Smith don't get along with each other but are still forced to help the Robinson Family at all costs.
  • This Is Gonna Suck: Penny's line after the jump sums it up nicely: "We're lost, aren't we?"
  • Title Drop: "There's lots of space out there to get lost in."
  • Too Dumb to Live: Young Will hands Dr. Smith his loaded, unlocked smart gun just seconds after the Doctor's monologue about being "a monster".
  • Voice Clip Song: The end credits have one, courtesy of Apollo 440, updating the original theme into a techno-rock mix peppered with lines from the film.
  • 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.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Dr. Smith betrays the Robinsons and tries to have them killed. They let him live until he becomes a snake-like mutant. John Robinson them explicitly admits he wouldn't kill him as a human, but has no problems killing him now because Smith is simply too ugly.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Or in this case space spiders.
  • You Have GOT to Be Kidding Me!: West over the different Robinsons making a point of saying good night to each other.
  • 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.