Lost In Space: The Christmas Edition
posted by Trevor on 12/26/02
Once again, Christmas is upon us and as per usual we're sucked into the grips of the season's mindless consumerism. Year in and year out, we're conditioned to buy! buy! buy! for no other reason than to show the world our glorious amounts of holiday spirit and the complete generosity we have in our appreciation of loved ones. Of course, the cynic in me thinks that this dreaded concept of "holiday spirit" is a carefully devised corporate construct meant to max out my credit cards and tax my very soul. Not to mention the sad fact that we can just as easily appreciate our loved ones on any other day (Not just the ones sponsored by Santa Walmart, Santa Sears, Santa JC Penney's, Santa Neiman Marcus, and so on). Still, I must admit I get a bit misty-eyed each year when I hear the story of how Jesus was nailed to the cross by the three wise men just so we all could have Yu-Gi-Oh starter decks on the Lord's birthday.
Sure, the whole concept of Christmas in the economic sense is crass and exploitative on every level... but the look of complete horror and disgust on
the face of my reverend uncle as he opens his dancing James Brown figurine on the morn of the 25th will certainly make this whole sordid affair worthwhile.
That... and my well-concealed hip flask of whiskey... and the egg nog... and the wine with the Christmas dinner... and especially the drunken rage I annually go into where I knock down the family Christmas tree and yell... "HULK AM STRONG!!!!"... before bursting into sloshed superhero holiday tears. Ripped purple pants or not, 'tis the season to be jolly after all.
UPN Presents: Homeboyz In Outer Space: The Next Generation
With this in mind, it only seems right to review a film that... although not necessarily released during the holidays... or having anything to do with the holidays... embodies the very spirit of what Christmas is all about. You know, crass, senseless commercialism... and robots that yell completely inane bullshit at you constantly. If you evaluate the make-up of Lost In Space systematically it's clear that this film was mathematically calculated with extreme precision to be perfectly middle of the road and pandering.
1. It maintains the concept of the original television series while giving it a hip overhaul: Conceivably, this is meant to please the old devoted fans (read: The overweight, 50-ish men at sci-fi conventions waiting for a chance to get June Lockhart's autograph) while remaining accessible to new fans. Then again... conceivably... Thunder In Paradise could have continued its reign of superboat terror for years on end while scoring top cable/syndicated ratings. Of course, neither of these things came to be.
What also falls under this heading are the throwaway cameos they give to some of the old cast members from the original series. This was apparently done so the guy who just plunked down $2000 for a vintage Lost In Space pinball machine on E-Bay can gripe about his beloved cast's lack of screentime on a message board somewhere... to the sound of crickets.
2. The mix of actors was chosen to appeal to every single demographic in existence: Matt LeBlanc, William Hurt, Gary Oldman, Heather Graham, Mimi Rogers, Lacey Chabert, and the precocious Jack Johnson as Will Robinson. From critical appeal, youth appeal, to the outright curiosity factor, this motley crew of thespians was handpicked to somewhat grab the interest of anyone under 60 in one way or another. Their collective body of work runs the spectrum from Sid & Nancy to the monkey/baseball epic, Ed. However, the problem remains that this hodgepodge of actors have no real reason to be together... or even in outer space for that matter.
In other words, this is no motherfucking Wing Commander. <3 <3 <3 <3
3. The script was meant to be everything to all people (read: Star Wars-lite): As written by noted Hollywood script doctor/hack Akiva Goldsman (Batman & Robin, A Beautiful Mind), this film has comedy, action, and drama in spades. From Dr. Smith (Gary Oldman) writing endless equations on the window of his dorm room to falsely believing he was enlisted by the government to help break Nazi code (He so CRAZEE!), this film has it all. However, I'll never understand why all of his costumes have big vinyl nipples affixed to them... not that they didn't make me a little hot under the collar just the same. Work it, girl!
The Complete Transcript of the Lost In Space Toyline's Commercial: "Lost In Space! Spider pack attacks in your face! Danger Will Robinson! Act in and
take control! The battles rages! Prepare for attack! It's Dr. Smith's spider pack! ROAR! Will Robinson blasts! Professor Robinson bashes! Armor up Major
West for magnetic spider smash! Weapons systems armed! But when Robot goes ballistic, you transform to crush the spider's horde! Lost In Space! The battle rages!
Gary Oldman's Acting Workshop: "I call this one "The Lazy Gymnast".
The plot of this movie is essentially summed up by the title. Professor John Robinson (William Hurt) is a workaholic bent on saving his ravaged world (The Styrofoam really didn't biodegrade over time. I can't believe it... *tosses cup in a stream*) by taking a long voyage to a faraway planet believed to have a suitable environment for sustaining human life. Once he finally touches down on this new planet, he plans to set up a Stargate-type device wherein people can teleport between the worlds... thus, giving our society a new environment to pee on with asparagus-scented urine. The rub lies in the fact that Professor John Robinson demands that his family go with him on this space journey; thus, giving us the human dimension that simply saving the entire world from destruction really wouldn't have.
Before lift-off, the evil Dr. Smith (Gary Oldman) resets the ship's robot to kill the Robinson clan and destroy the ship itself a little ways into their trip. Of course, Dr. Smith gets trapped aboard while the robot slowly gyrates and yells "Must kill Robinson family!"... before proceeding to accidentally knock things over and cause fires. This brings about the entire family waking up from their cryogenic slumber to use powers like earth, heart, water, fire, and wind in tandem to vanquish their foe.
Of course, this nasty development reroutes the ship's course directly at the sun. With time running out and all ideas failing, Professor Robinson and Major West (Matt LeBlanc) decide to do what they most fear. Use the Stargate-type device to transport the ship (and the family) away from a fiery demise. The problem is that since they don't have an actual gate set-up there's no telling where in time and space they'll end up. The button is pressed, the family is saved, and wackiness ensues.
There's really no point in proceeding from this point. Cast members say things like, "Wow! This is totally strange!", "I miss home!", "Let's work together as a family for once!" while spending the rest of the film investigating a deserted space ship (FROM THE FUTURE!) and exploring an inhospitable planet. Time-travel, crazy spiders, and a mutant Gary Oldman (FROM THE FUTURE!) come into play but in the end... it doesn't even maaaaatter.
The conclusion of the film is left open-ended (i.e. You just wasted two hours and ten minutes on a story without a satisfactory conclusion) in order to allow an opportunity for "Loster In Space" to potentially come to fruition. I assure you I'm waiting with bated breath.
Misplaced Unsettling Holiday Stories From Martha Stewart's "Christmas":
"When I decided to create this year's holiday decor without relying on the
red and green that has dominated our Christmas aesthetic, I thought it would
be interesting to try gilding a few decorations. Two weeks later, almost
everything in the house -- from pomegranates and pinecones and evergreen
boughs to homemade wrapping paper -- had been dipped and brushed in dense,
rich metallic paints and my sister Laura has renamed this book 'Martha's Gilt
Alternate title: "Martha Owns 300 Different Kinds Of Cookie Cutters...
Fucking Psycho." by Laura Stewart.
Danger! Danger Will Robinson! I detect shitty merchandise ahead!
View Some Of The Casting Gold:
Lacey Chabert as Video Mechanics Officer Penny Robinson: First, she played a cute miniature poodle version of Jennifer Love Hewitt on Party Of Five. Next,
she prattled on about Ms. Hewitt on her edition of E! True Hollywood Story. Finally, she was seen pretending to be J.L.H. circa Can't Hardly Wait in Not
Another Teen Movie. Clearly, this isn't exactly the best path to take in order to retain career momentum. Sure, Lacey has only a third of the helicopter landing pad forehead that J-LoHe flaunts with carefree aplomb. The problem is she only has a third of the breasts as well. Not to mention, she owns the kind of high-pitch screech that puts dogs into instant convulsions while driving men to suicide. Luckily, early in the movie, the frequency of her squeals was set at just the right pitch to blow my retinas and eardrums straight to oblivion. Unfortunately, like a starfish, my damaged eyes and ears quickly mended while the horrible memories remained.
Gary Oldman as Base Physician Zachary Smith, M.D.: Remember when Gary Oldman played a villain in The Professional, The Fifth Element, Air Force One,
Hannibal, The Contender, and True Romance, among others? Wouldn't it be cool if he did it again?! This film answers that wish IN SPACE!
Blarp as Blarp: What the existence of Blarp proves is that my house is most likely bugged and perhaps my very thoughts are carefully being monitored by the Hollywood Gestapo as we speak. You see, like a younger Larry King, I've been known to blurt out random nonsense from time to time just to hear the sound of my own voice. However, unlike Mr. King, my medium is not newspapers, television, or the radio; it is free verse poetry. I hate to toot my own horn but as far as free verse poets go... I'm a goddamn genius. For instance, take a look at this piece I wrote in June of '95.
"Blarp Blarp Blarp
Monkey hairless noisy
YELLOW YELLOW YELLOW
Anime eyes CGI
Ook Ook Ook Alien
Friend Or Foe
Obviously, if I didn't believe in "one love", I would've taken down the whole Lost In Space production with extreme prejudice for their lack of regard for
my intellectual property. The sad thing is this isn't the first time I've had ideas stolen from me. Remember the Demi Moore vehicle "The Scarlet Letter"?
That was my idea! Perhaps you recall Guy Pearce in the recent remake of "The Time Machine". My idea again. Maybe you have even heard of a little trilogy
of films that goes by the handle of the "Lord Of The Rings". I tell you, I read all of those books and thought they all deserved a big screen treatment.
IT WAS ME, AUSTIN! IT WAS ME ALLLLLLL ALONG!!!
Matt LeBlanc as Flight Control Officer Major Don West: Matt The White plays the Han Solo of this movie. Brash, impulsive, loud, and the embodiment of
masculinity... these are just a few of the characteristics Matt LeBlanc failed to get across through the course of the film.
Of course, I don't hold him accountable for his failings as an actor whatsoever. When watching him I've really come to think of his very existence as a Cinderella version of the movie Encino Man come to life. A Cro-Magnon man with a large head and cattle-like jaw finds himself lost and naked in Hollywood after thawing out from his icy tomb. An agent seeing his chiseled abs and ultra white teeth takes pity on the poor hapless soul. After a regimen of removing excess body hair with Nair, a makeover (all aesthetic issues are covered... from clothes to nails), and some commercial auditions, Matt is now a new man and an official up-and-comer of the Hollywood scene.
I think, at this point, it's best to reflect on the fact that behind the dopey visage is a quite possibly a bloodthirsty savage within.
Have you ever danced with the devil in the pale moonlight.
Key Scene And/Or Reason To Own The DVD:
Teaching Robbie The Robot How To Love: The young Will Robinson is a genius par excellence but deep down he just longs for the affection of his ever-working father. Who can blame the kid? When the ship's first robot is destroyed in a valiant battle with space spiders (Don't ask.), Will takes it upon himself to create a new robot in his own image (or at least in the image of the television show's original robot). Of course, this act of playing God doesn't exactly have the ramifications of say Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. Instead, it validates the idea of human beings as creators. When the chips are down and Gary Oldman's Dr. Smith is steepling his fingers menacingly as Will's reprogrammed, marauding robot attacks... all it takes is a bat of his big doe eyes and a plea for the robot to remember their friendship to make everything all better. The robot defies his programming for his "friend" and Will's dad finds a new respect for his son.
The moral of this story is it's ok for me to graft cat tails on dead snakes then try to reanimate the result... as long as the cat tails and dead snakes remember our friendship in the end.
More Misplaced Unsettling Holiday Stories From Martha Stewart's "Christmas":
"After several years of giving homemade gifts like a jar of jam, or a bottle of scented vinegar, or a plum pudding, or shortbread, I began a tradition of gift baskets. First I made them for my friends and family, then for business associates and corporate clients, until we found ourselves filling hundreds of baskets, each unique... One way we make our baskets unique is to create each one around a theme: a basket for the birds, a pet's basket, tea for six, a gardener's basket, or whatever. If you think about the recipient and his or her favorite pleasures, a theme will always suggest itself."
Skittles, dildos, and bubblewrap all around! My gift baskets are a freaking party in your ass!
As the forecasted eight inches of snow slowly begins to drift downwards upon my home, I'm led to reflect on the meaning of Christmas and how it pertains to Lost In Space as a movie or just a concept in general (i.e. What would it be like to be lost among the stars on Christmas Eve?). I mean, how would Santa deliver presents to all good boys and girls if we inhabited multiple planets, as per the dream of Professor John Robinson? Due to the destruction of Earth and the apparent jungle climate of the new world, would the thought of a "White Christmas" just become a fanciful myth with time? Forget all that! What if Rudolph somehow got stuck in the Stargate between planets and all we could see was his disembodied nose trying to escape? What would we do?
Failing to mentally make the connection between the two divergent ideas of Christmas and it's relation to space, I turn towards the internet to see if someone else has been able to put across my thoughts in a more coherent fashion.
I'd venture to say "yes" on this one.