Lost in Space (1998) (part 4 of 6)

On their screen back on the Jupiter, Penny and Maureen see the fleshy blobs sprout legs and start moving. The design of these creatures is totally impractical. The blobs are triangle shaped, with each corner sprouting one leg, each of which splits into two. Their faces are on one of the edges, meaning that in the real world, the legs sticking out of the back would pretty much just impede any kind of movement. Will speaks into his Robot control, saying, “Mom says ‘Get the hell out of there!'” This makes Robot say it too. The show was pretty goofy, but I don’t think it ever sunk to having Robot say “Mom” and “Dad”. Suddenly some of the blobs, which, based on their current appearance, I guess I now have to call spiders, come right up to our heroes. Don shoots one, but the blast bounces off. The camera violently jerks around, making it hard to tell that this is what’s happened. Everyone runs, with Robot taking pot shots at the spiders, even though these have no effect. Will yells that his handheld control is too slow, so he gets into some kind of virtual reality hologram thingee that lets him control Robot with his own body. They have this thing on the Jupiter because… ?

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For some reason, Robot’s lasers now hurt the spiders. A few of them even stop to eat one that’s been wounded. This is hard to see if you’re not looking for it, which is too bad, because later it becomes an important plot point (such as it is). Everyone runs into the corridor they used to enter the ship, and I now notice that it’s just a long, empty hallway that really serves no purpose other than to make the ship bigger. John tries to close the bulkhead, but he says he can’t because the codes are locked. So, how did they open it to begin with? Judy shoots some nozzle-looking thing over Don’s head, and the doors close. Then the door on the opposite end of the corridor closes, supposedly because the computer thinks there’s a fire on the ship. In a moment that looks like it’s right out of Perfect Dark, John leans into Robot’s face and tells Will they have to get the door open. Suddenly, they see bulges in the door they just came through, which apparently are the spiders attempting to break through. Don takes a moment to put some fancy additions onto his gun that basically just make it bigger. He then somehow makes a metal mask lower over his face. The mask serves no purpose other than to let LeBlanc take time off for Friends. This actually turned out to be unnecessary, but the mask was left in because (this is a verbatim quote from director Stephen Hopkins’ commentary track) “it looked cool”. Don starts blasting away at spiders that break through the door, which are instantly killed now. On the opposite end of the corridor, Robot blows away the other door and keeps rolling through, somehow losing an arm in the process.

Lost in Space (1998) (part 4 of 6)

“GrrRRRaaWWrrr… RRRrrrooooHHHhhhrrr… Ummm… Line!”

Back on the Jupiter, Maureen is working on getting another door open by “cycling through a vacuum check”. Anyone know what she’s talking about? Meanwhile, on the Proteus, the spiders stop coming, but Don thinks it was too easy. He’s right, as the spiders now, well, start coming through the same door again. He finds himself surrounded by them, so he runs towards the door on the opposite end of the corridor while shooting randomly. Once he’s through, Robot gets in the doorway and blocks the path of the spiders. We see Will manipulating Robot and trying to stave them off, and now that the spiders are crawling on Robot, we see little holographic reproductions of the spiders climbing all over Will. Riiiight. Maureen tells the others to “Try it now!” but it turns out they don’t need to do anything because yet another door opens automatically. Unfortunately, they have little choice other than to leave Robot behind. Just moments before the door closes, however, one spider reaches through and scratches Smith’s back. The animators tease you a little bit by showing the monkey almost getting scratched instead, but I’m afraid we’re going to be seeing much more of it. Dr. Smith tells the monkey to stop laughing, even though it sounds more like it’s screaming. But, hey, he’s the doctor.

One spider leg lies on the ground, apparently chopped off when the doors closed on it. Don pointlessly steps on it, and then we cut to Robot being destroyed by the spiders. Back on the Jupiter, Penny tells Will that the others couldn’t save Robot, to which Will replies, “Save him? Of course!” He then puts a disc containing Robot’s personality (or something) into his computer, and begins downloading it. You mean, Will wouldn’t have gotten the idea to do this if Penny hadn’t said anything? She asks Will what he’s trying to do, which is obvious to just about anyone watching. She’s then freaked out when the monkey thing appears out of nowhere and jumps on her. I don’t blame her.

We see that John and the others have made it back safely. Don says, “This is a fun picnic. First yellow aliens, now giant spiders.” That’s a dumb line anywhere, but it’s even worse when it’s as horribly out of place as it is here. Don then suggests that Smith could talk to the spiders “bug to bug.” I could get all nitpicky about how spiders are actually arachnids, but, hey, since when have I been overly critical? Don then looks out the view screens and sees the spiders are flying toward the Jupiter in droves. He fires a couple of torpedoes, although I don’t know what good they’ll do against the giant horde of spiders flying at them. My doubts are increased when the torpedoes turn out to pack less power than sparkly fireworks.

Maureen and Judy put the detached spider leg onto some “whatever” technology, which proceeds to tell them everything about the spiders based on their DNA. I have to wonder whether a human being, let alone a computer, can understand everything about a completely unknown species going solely off its DNA. They figure out the spiders are attracted to heat and light, so Don turns up the engines on the Proteus. (Let’s assume he has the technology to remotely operate a model of ship that he’s never seen before, and just leave it at that.) The spiders are attracted to the flames and forget about the Jupiter. Don decides not to leave well enough alone, however, so he overloads the engines, causing them to explode. (His justification? “I hate spiders.”) Naturally, the explosion threatens to destroy the Jupiter (nice going), so Don has to pilot the ship out of harm’s way. Even though he could easily do this by flying directly away from the Proteus, Don chooses instead to run along its length so they can always be just a split-second ahead of the flames. It’s a movie thing, I guess. Somehow, the Jupiter ends up plummeting towards a nearby planet, which turns out to be basically Hoth. Everyone, including Dr. Smith, straps themselves into a seat. If only the Robinsons and Don were meant to be on this ship, why does Smith have a seat? There’s a brief rip-off of the rafting sequence from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom before the ship finally crashes. Oddly, everyone confirms they’re okay by stating their function on the ship [?]. I thought they were just along because John insisted on bringing his family, but what do I know?

Lost in Space (1998) (part 4 of 6)

“Okay, whose idea was it to let Short Round come along?”

In the engine room, Don spouts some science-y talk (not as science-y as Judy, though) about how much the ship is damaged. According to him, the “pod” and the “chariot” are useless, but since we never saw these things, why mention them now? John confronts Don about his big blunder, accusing him of disobeying orders. Don replies that he was still in command, but John disagrees. Actually, according to their original briefing, Don is right. Don then brings up John’s father, who was a war hero (or something) and is shocked when John says he was killed in battle. Given how much he seems to admire the guy, you have to wonder how he didn’t know that. Maureen comes in and delivers a severe blow to both their egos that goes on long, long after she’s made her point.

Somewhere else in the ship, Smith starts fooling around with the gizmo he swiped off the Proteus. He scratches the cut in his back, which is now looking quite nasty, with huge gray blisters around it. Hey, Doctor, if you pick at it, it’ll never heal. He calls it a “bug bite”, although I think the term “spider scratch” is more accurate, in addition to sounding much cooler.

Judy and Penny examine the monkey thing with a funky portable x-ray, which they’re completely unprotected against. They both refer to the monkey as if it’s female, which really threw me off, because when it was first found everyone referred to it as male. Penny asks if she can keep it (I refuse to take sides in this gender battle), although it’s not exactly going anywhere, is it? Penny then names it “Blarp” after a sound it makes, although for all she knows this could be like naming it “The” in its language. Penny and Blarp share a nauseating “bonding” moment, while Judy looks on proudly (huh?). See, the original Penny’s big character trait was that she collected little pets from whatever planet the Robinsons visited. Nice try, guys, but you’re not fooling anyone into thinking this is the same character.

Maureen locates some radioactive material on the planet’s surface that they can use to repair the ship, and John says that they’ll head out for it at daybreak. He then weakly reminds Don that this is an order. You’re a very small man, Professor. Don goes to Dr. Smith, once again confined to sickbay, and gives him an air mattress (you’d think they’d have anti-gravity beds in this very futuristic future). Smith tries to convince Don to mutiny against John. He hasn’t been privy to any of the recent enmity between the two of them, so how can he know to exploit it? Don lays a heavy dose of sarcasm on him and heads out. For those keeping score, this time Don seems to use his voice and press a button to lock the door. Make up your minds, would you?

Don and Judy have some more idiotic “romantic” repartee, which involves something about naming the new constellations they see after Loony Toons characters. I’m sorry, but this scene is just so moronic that I doubt I can keep my sanity if I describe it in any further detail. Suffice to say that nothing physical happens yet, because they need to save their first kiss for the end of the film (Whoops, hope I didn’t ruin it).

John and Maureen have another conversation about how he’s never around for Will (she seems to have forgotten all about Penny’s supposed problems, which are never brought up again). Then they get all sensual in bed as the door closes. I really didn’t need that image in my head. Everyone wishes each other good night as we watch from outside the ship. Listen, you morons, this is supposed to be a remake of Lost in Space, not an update of The Waltons. This scene ends with Don’s voice yelling, “You’ve got to be kidding me!” for no apparent reason.

Ryan Lohner

Ryan lives in Sparta, New Jersey, a quaint little burg without much for kids to do except go to the movies. Thus began a lifelong love affair, as even back then he grew to love examining why a film worked, or didn't. He is a member of the Sigma Tau Delta English Honor Society, and currently studying for a Master's Degree in Library and Information Science. His hobbies include running, piano, and annoying people with that damn lowercase forum user name.

Multi-Part Article: Lost in Space (1998)

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