Lost in Space (1998) (part 5 of 6)
In the morning, only Will gets an early start on the day. He opens the window shields to reveal a huge blue bubble outside. Then we cut to everyone eating breakfast. (Wow, that was abrupt.) Naturally, the radioactive material they need is right in the middle of that bubble. John says he was afraid of that, although up until now he had no idea the bubble was even there. John posits that the bubble is the same thing they passed through to get to the Proteus. Of course, it’s never explained why the bubble would appear around a ship like that. John theorizes the bubbles are doorways in time, which Don doesn’t buy for a second. He really gets quite snippy about it. Will asks, “What if they aren’t natural?” even though no one has said that they were. Will says he always thought that his prototype science fair time machine would result in something like this, but John doesn’t believe that at all. Okay, it’s one thing to not be around to support your kids because of your work, but this is getting ridiculous. There’s a sudden tremor that would maybe be .05 on the Richter scale, and John says that he thinks the bubble caused it. That’s a pretty big leap in logic, but then he immediately tops himself by wondering how long it will be before the planet completely breaks up [!!]. John decides that he and Don will go into the bubble to retrieve the radioactive material.
Father and Son finally have a little bonding moment where Will asks if there will come a day when John won’t come back. Since Dad is just a scientist and this is only the second time he’s ventured into possible danger (and Will doesn’t even know about this time, since he was out of the room when the decision about heading into the bubble was made), the line seems a little out of place. John then gives Will his two dog tags (which have a curved bar code because, you know, it’s the future). John’s father would give them to John whenever he went on a mission, so that John would know he was coming back for them. Since his father probably did this on the mission where he actually did get killed, I don’t know how this is supposed to comfort Will.
Don apologizes to Judy for what a jerk he’s been, and then tells her that saying that felt like “pulling steel needles through my cheeks”. Are needles made of some other substance in the future? Also, wouldn’t it make more sense to say “pushing” instead of “pulling”? Judy wishes him luck, and Don ruins it again by asking for a good luck kiss. Hey Matt, you’re not playing Joey! Judy, of course, blows him off again, although she might (wink, wink) be getting attached to the guy. This romance angle is so artificial I wouldn’t be surprised if they both turned out to be robots.
Outside the ship, John puts his finger into the bubble, then his whole arm. Nothing happens, although he shouldn’t be surprised, because nothing happened the first time they went through one of these things. Don makes a dig at how unscientific this action was, seemingly under the impression that science has anything to do with anything that happens in this movie. Then Maureen walks over to John, looks off in the distance and says, “Come home to me, Professor.” John replies, “I love you, Wife,” [!!] and the two kiss. I’m pretty sure this is from some old war movie, although why it’s included here is anybody’s guess. William Hurt and Mimi Rogers seem particularly embarrassed having to recite these two lines. John then goes over to Penny to say goodbye. Blarp is on her shoulder, and the way the CGI guys have lit it is completely wrong. It’s like it’s in a dark room instead of outside in broad daylight. John and Don walk into the bubble, experiencing some kind of windy middle layer (why wasn’t there one of these in the bubble surrounding the Proteus?), after which they emerge into a dark blue version of the planet.
On the Jupiter, Robot wakes up, having its personality activated inside a big clear bubble that sort of resembles the original Robot’s head. I hope this wasn’t some important equipment that was needed for the ship to function. And if it wasn’t, why is it on the ship in the first place? Robot now seems to have a mind of its own, which was certainly not the case earlier. Will explains that he didn’t have enough time to finish downloading Robot’s mind (not that it seemed to have one at all. And while we’re on the subject, Will did appear to finish downloading it), so Will completed Robot’s personality with portions of his own. Will touches some buttons, and a holographic image of a baseball appears. Robot says the personality addition explains why he gets a “warm fuzzy feeling” thinking about baseball, which is just not right for the character. Robot asks why he was saved after he tried to destroy the family (which he still annoyingly pronounces as “fam-i-ly”). Will replies, “Friendship means thinking with your heart, not with your head.” Man, I’m using my head and my heart, but thinking someone actually got paid to write that line still makes me ill. Will starts to reconstruct Robot, and tells a lame joke about “making” new friends (get it?) that only compounds the unbearable “cuteness” of this scene.
In an incredibly useless moment, Maureen and Judy fix the ship while Penny bungee jumps to get their tools. This requires those tools to be located in the most inconvenient place possible. The only real reason I can think that this scene exists is so they could put clips of it in the commercials and make it look like an exciting action sequence. Penny talks some more into her wrist diary about accepting her new role as a member of the crew. (I guess it’s easier than constantly bitching about things.) Blarp frolics around in the background during this diary entry, with a very noticeable white halo around it. There’s really no excuse for how poor the animation is here. If this creature had actually served some sort of story function, then maybe—maybe—I would have been more forgiving.
Back in the bubble, John and Don quickly bury the hatchet (what was the point of having them at odds in the first place?) with some typical action-hero-meets-brainy-scientist banter. Don makes the “shock” discovery of some wreckage from the Jupiter, which appears to be decades old. This is only a “shock” if you didn’t hear John’s earlier line about the bubbles being “doorways in time”. Suddenly, Don gets shot by a laser. John runs around for a mini-eternity before someone shoots him too. In another big surprise, their assailant is revealed to be the future version of Robot. He now has three arms, and the extra one appears to be the arm that was lost on the Proteus, which begs the question of how it was retrieved from a ship that we saw was completely destroyed.
Back on the present-day Jupiter, Robot asks Will why the robot crossed the road. Brace yourselves for the punch line, folks: “It was carbon-bonded to the chicken.” Feel free to look in the “memorable quotes” section on the IMDb if you don’t believe me. Will hears some tapping sounds echo through the walls, and Robot says they sound like “old Morse code”. Last I checked, there was only one Morse code. Robot translates it, proclaiming that it says, “Danger, Will Robinson, danger!” Of course, they needed Robot to say this at some point, even if it made no sense whatsoever. Well, it makes no sense whatsoever. I don’t know Morse code, but still, there definitely isn’t enough time for a message that long to come through before Robot translates it.
Will discovers that it’s Dr. Smith tapping out the message, so he enters sickbay (he unlocks the door with his voice, so I guess that’s the official way to do it now). He comes in with a gun (for no particular reason, we see Will set the gun so that it will only fire for him), but Smith convinces Will that he only wants to help. That’s right, now Dr. Smith is trying to win over Will. To be fair, this is actually what happened a lot on the show, although with how smart Will is supposed to be in this movie, I have trouble believing he’d fall for it. Naturally, Will goes back into Idiot Mode as Smith talks him into going into the bubble together.
Outside, the two of them walk through a field of vegetation that looks like it would play hell with someone’s hay fever. They approach the bubble and Will says, “I told you we could get into the bubble this way!” although that should be immediately obvious to anyone, since all you have to do is step into the bubble and that’s that. The bubble begins growing and they run away from it. Wasn’t the whole point of this little expedition to go inside it? Will then runs right into the bubble and calls for Smith to follow, further calling attention to the pointlessness of running away. (You know you’re watching a bad movie when it has to strain so much for an “action” bit that only last five seconds.)
Smith walks inside and finds Penny’s watch diary, which is playing the list we heard earlier. (Oddly, one of the items is “popcorn with.”) Will comes over, and Smith distracts him by telling him to keep following John’s “signal”. Since when was he sending out a signal? Then the camera shows what Smith was looking at: The graves of future Maureen, Penny, and Judy. I wonder whose idea it was to leave Penny’s list on her tombstone, running for all eternity?
We see John regain consciousness on a ravaged future Jupiter. So, what happens between now and the future that moves the ship from where it crashed to this spot? Naturally, no one even bothers to ask this. A crazy hermit guy is running around the ship. He turns out to be future Will when he shows John his dog tags (although now there’s only one; Nice continuity). Initially, Bill Mumy (the original Will from the TV show) wanted this part, but director Hopkins wouldn’t give it to him. Instead, they found a guy who’s a dead ringer for William Hurt. I think this was actually a wise decision, but that’s the last bit of praise you’ll hear from me regarding this movie. Future Will says that some spiders from the Proteus survived and killed the women, all because John wasn’t there to protect them. Now, time travel is probably the most confusing subject to build a movie around, and even the good ones (and there are quite a few) will make some mistakes. This movie can’t make the idea work at all, and things begin to become incredibly convoluted from this point forward. For instance, John came inside the bubble to retrieve radioactive material to get his ship up and running. I’m assuming that this material is actually from the future version of the Jupiter. So, if he gets this material and returns to the Jupiter in his own time, this whole future will be erased, right? So then how would the material even exist for him to get it in the first place? Don’t worry, things haven’t even begun to get confusing yet.
Young Will and Dr. Smith (still following John’s “signal”) climb over a ridge, and Will says, and I quote, “Shit!” Smith concurs, and we see that they’re looking at the future Jupiter, now almost completely cannibalized, straddling a cliff. In addition to my earlier question about how the ship got moved to this spot, I’m also left wondering why it was put it in such a precarious position.
Inside the ship, Future Will shows John his time machine, which he built from the “core material”. Needless to say, it looks nothing like the prototype time machine young Will took to his science fair, except both machines have something roughly spherical in the middle. Will sees Robot is carrying Don and says, “Put him down”, which Robot interprets as “Drop him”. Will then says he’ll soon be able to take a trip through time, then adds, “and space as well!” How this is accomplished in addition to time travel is never explained. Will plans to return to Earth before the Jupiter left, and stop it from taking off. Of course, this would leave the human race stranded on a dying Earth. A better idea for the whole planet’s sake would be to simply go back to when Dr. Smith programmed Robot to kill the Robinson family, and simply reprogram him back to his original orders. Instead, Will’s decided to be a tad bit selfish. John tells Will not to go, since the tremors in time may destroy both worlds. (I think John has seen the movie Millennium one too many times.) Will lashes out at John about how he never came home, which I guess is supposed to make John think about what a bad father he’s been. However, all he really needs to do to get back to Young Will is go back through the bubble, so the dialogue doesn’t really work.
Young Will and Dr. Smith wander around some more, although two scenes ago it seemed like they were right next to the future Jupiter. Dr. Smith attempts to trick Will into handing over his gun. Here I was expecting Will to hand the gun over, knowing Dr. Smith forgot it was programmed so that only Will could use it. Instead, Will enables the gun to be used by anyone and hands it over. Naturally, Smith turns it on him. You know, it really is amazing how Will’s intelligence level can change based on whatever the plot demands.
Dr. Smith barges into the Jupiter, and somehow, both he and Young Will instantly intuit that the new guy here is Will in the future. Smith does something to Robot with the doodad he took from the Proteus. “I had hoped to take over the ship with this,” Dr. Smith says. “One of life’s little ironies.” Since that’s pretty much what he’s doing now, it’s not really ironic at all. He inserts some other device [?] into Robot and tells him “Do try to get it right this time,” although it was entirely because of Smith that Robot failed the first time.
Dr. Smith pushes Young Will over by Future Will, and the two decide to make some small talk about the time machine. According to Young Will, it looks like Future Will has hooked two very science-y sounding things together so that some undefined things could be in the same place at the same time. Then Young Will sees some other science-y thing that he had never thought of, which is apparently what allows it to send someone through space. You know, as crazy as this sounds, I’m starting to think there’s no real science behind this machine. Suddenly, Future Will lets out an evil laugh, and the Future Smith comes out and knocks away the present-time Smith’s gun.
Future Smith is huge, and wears a black cloak for no other reason than to have a dramatic unveiling later. For now, we can see his face, which is black with some Alice Cooper-like makeup effects. Apparently, the spiders are like werewolves, and being scratched by one can turn a person into a hybrid of the two species. Given the “science” we’ve seen on display so far, the introduction of this supernatural element really isn’t all that surprising. Spider Smith launches into a super-hokey speech about how he’s been a father to Will since John disappeared and the women died. Of course, his new form would have allowed him to kill the girls and make it look like the spiders did it, but it seems that Will has never thought of this. Even in the future, his intelligence goes both ways. Then Spider Smith picks up human Smith and throws him out the window, saying, “I never liked me anyway.” Of course, had human Smith actually been killed by this, Spider Smith would have never existed in the first place, so this action doesn’t seem particularly smart. Spider Smith tells Robot to kill them all, but Future Will intervenes and so Spider Smith decides to keep them as prisoners. Stupefyingly, after that it appears that Future Will still doesn’t realize that Smith is evil [!?!]. Spider Smith prepares to use Future Will’s time machine. He shimmies up a smooth pipe in a moment that was apparently designed to make audiences go, “Wow, cool!” Unfortunately, the only result is more laughter, since his hands and feet barely make contact with the pipe and it’s obvious that it’s just a dummy being hauled up by a rope.