Lost In Space

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Details At A Glance

Category Science Fiction Theatrical Trailer(s) Yes, 1
Rating Other Trailer(s) Yes, 1 - Dolby Digital Canyon
Year Released 1997 Commentary Tracks Yes, 2
Commentary 1-Stephen Hopkins (Director) and Akiva Goldsman (Writer)
Commentary 2-Peter Levy (Director of Photography), Ray Lovejoy (Editor), Carla Fry (Producer), Angus Bickerston (Visual Effects Supervisor), and Lauren Ritchie (Visual Effects Supervisor)
Running Time 125:02 minutes Other Extras Menu Audio & Animation
Featurette - Film Special Effects (15:56)
Featurette - Future Space Travel (9:48)
Deleted Scenes - 9
Music Video
Cast & Crew Interviews
Cast Biographies
RSDL/Flipper RSDL (94:22)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region 4 Director Stephen Hopkins

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring William Hurt
Gary Oldman
Mimi Rogers
Heather Graham
Lacey Chabert
Jack Johnson
Matt LeBlanc
RRP $34.95 Music Bruce Broughton

Pan & Scan/Full Frame No MPEG 2.0 (silent)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Dolby Digital 5.1
16x9 Enhancement Yes Soundtrack Languages English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
English (Dolby Digital 2.0 )
English Audio Commentary 1 (Dolby Digital 2.0 )
English Audio Commentary 2 (Dolby Digital 2.0 )
English (MPEG 2.0 - silent)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
Macrovision Yes Smoking No
Subtitles None Annoying Product Placement Yes, moderately
Action In or After Credits No

Plot Synopsis

    After all I had heard about this movie, I was ready to dislike it - many people did, and dismissed it as a Hollywood rip-off of the fondly-remembered Lost In Space TV series. I, too, have fond memories of the original TV series. As a child, I watched it religiously - it was a show that cunningly had a character for every demographic. I used to barrack for Will Robinson, and loved Robot. Dr Smith, on the other hand, was just so evil - I hated him! My favourite episode was the one in which Robot was dying, and Will shrinks down to miniature size and goes inside Robot, finding and restarting his heart in the process. Dramatic stuff indeed to a young 'un as I was back then. Even now, with the reruns on late night TV, there is still a charm about the old TV series that is undeniable, even though the styrene landscapes and boulders look a little less realistic than they did 20 years ago.

    So, what has Hollywood done to the Lost In Space crew? Basically, given some of them an update into the 90s, and some of them a complete makeover. Robot looks like he has been working out for the last 20 years, since he is a lot bigger and a lot more menacing. The Jupiter 2 looks a lot more like the Millenium Falcon. Maureen Robinson (Mimi Rogers) isn't just mom anymore - she's an exo-biologist. Judy Robinson (Heather Graham) is sexier, Don West is hornier and dumber (Matt LeBlanc), Will Robinson (Jack Johnson) is nerdier, and Dr Smith (Gary Oldman) is even more evil (believe it or not). The only character that takes a major nosedive, in my opinion, is Penny (Lacey Chabert) who is now an annoying, nay, a very annoying, rebellious teenage brat.

    The story begins in the same fashion as the original TV series; the Robinsons are on a deep space mission to Alpha Prime (correct me if I'm wrong, but weren't they on a mission to Jupiter originally?). Dr Smith sabotages Robot, and things go awry - they end up in hyperdrive and Lost In Space. End of Episode One. Well, not really, there aren't any episodes as such, but the plot does divide neatly up into three sections.

    Episode Two is on an old, abandoned spaceship, originally from Earth, inhabited by some very nasty extraterrestrials.

    Episode Three is on the planet below the spaceship, and involves time travel.

    There are plotholes galore in this story if you step back and analyse it. However, it moves along rapidly enough so that you don't stop to ponder the implausibilities. Indeed, this movie is more of a full-on special effects roller coaster ride with a plot than anything else. Frankly, I enjoyed it far more than I expected to, which is considerably at variance with a lot of people's opinions of this movie.

    However, there is one thing I just have to say - what's with the cheesy CGI monkey? It doesn't even look remotely real, has nothing to do with the plot and is just a distraction. And, it puts Penny on the screen for longer.

Transfer Quality


    The video transfer of this movie is superb and is of reference quality.

    The transfer is presented at an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, 16x9 enhanced.

    The transfer is crystal clear and razor sharp. There is an enormous amount of detail in this picture, with many many fine details apparent throughout. Shadow detail is superb, with a great deal of menacing detail contained within every shadow. There is no low level noise.

    The colours were clear, clean and crisp, with a large variation in the colour palette used being apparent between shots, from the cold, steely grays of Mission Control and the Jupiter 2 to the vivid alien landscapes. All of the shots come through as being superbly rendered.

    There were no MPEG artefacts seen. Aliasing is very trivial in extent, especially considering that a number of shots in the movie are absolute sitting ducks for this artefact, such as the opening sequence. This has been very well-controlled in this transfer. Film artefacts went unnoticed.

    This disc is an RSDL disc, with the layer change occurring between Chapters 17 and 18, at 94:22, in the middle of a fade to black.


    Save for the audio sync problem mentioned below, which has lead me to severely mark down the audio score of this disc, this is otherwise a reference quality soundtrack, with aggressive surround use and enormous amounts of bass energy present.

    There are five audio tracks on this DVD; the default English Dolby Digital 5.1, an English Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded soundtrack, two English Audio Commentaries in 2.0 surround, and a silent English MPEG 2.0 track. I listened to the English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack.

    The dialogue was clear and easy to understand at all times.

    Audio sync was a big problem at times on my Pioneer DV-505, with the second half of Chapter 2 and the whole of Chapter 3 being quite noticeably out of sync. At other times, the dialogue appeared on the verge of going out of sync, but never quite definitely got there. I checked this section on my DVD-ROM drive (PowerDVD 2.0 couldn't navigate the menu, but XingDVD could) and it was also noticeably out of sync, so this is a significant sync problem, not just a Pioneer sync issue. Not having seen the original movie, it is hard to know whether this is a post-processing error or a mastering error.
[Addendum: There is a way to get PowerDVD to play this disc; insert and start the disc as per usual. It will freeze when the main menu appears. Right mouse click in the display window and choose Select Menu, Root Menu. The main menu will then correctly start and you will be able to make selections.]

    The musical score by Bruce Broughton suited the roller-coaster thrill-ride experience of this movie nicely, adding to the atmosphere superbly.

    The surround channels were extremely aggressively used for sound effects and music, and were active throughout the majority of the movie. Split surround effects were utilized effectively, creating an enveloping sound field almost all of the time. This well-and-truly pulled you into the movie. Once again, the phrase roller-coaster thrill-ride springs to mind to describe the aggressive use of the surround channels.

    The subwoofer was extremely heavily used during this soundtrack, creating a frequently bone-shattering level of bass output during the appropriate sequences.


    An excellent selection of extras are present. The Dolby Digital Canyon trailer is on this disc.


    The menu design is nicely themed around the movie. It has Dolby Digital 5.1 audio and animation throughout the menu structure. It does have a very cheesy dissolve between screens, though.

Theatrical Trailer - 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced, Dolby Digital 5.1

Featurette - Film Special Effects (15:56) - 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced, Dolby Digital 2.0

    This is a nice featurette discussing some of the special effects shots in the movie and how they were generated.

Featurette - Future Space Travel (9:48) - 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced, Dolby Digital 2.0

    The audio sync in this featurette is marginally out.

Deleted Scenes - 9

    These are presented in varying stages of readiness, and are an excellent watch.

Music Video

Cast & Crew Interviews

Cast Biographies

Audio Commentary - Stephen Hopkins (Director) and Akiva Goldsman (Writer)

    This is an excellent commentary track by Stephen Hopkins, though it does take a while before he really hits his stride, so you should be patient with this commentary until it really gets interesting. There are a great deal of insights into the choices made when making the film, in particular with regards to budgetary constraints. General comments from Akiva Goldsman are edited into the gaps in Stephen Hopkins' commentary, and whilst they are interesting, they generally bear no direct relationship to the on-screen action. There is certainly no interaction between the two commentators.

    Of particular note is the fact that the audio sync of the background movie soundtrack is severely out of sync with the picture, which is very distracting when there is no actual commentary and the soundtrack increases in volume.

    Also of particular note is the fact that for a brief moment towards the end of the movie, the background movie soundtrack becomes an isolated music score in response to a comment from Stephen Hopkins. This is a little distracting when there is dialogue seen on screen but no dialogue coming from the soundtrack.

Audio Commentary - Peter Levy (Director of Photography), Ray Lovejoy (Editor), Carla Fry (Producer), Angus Bickerston (Visual Effects Supervisor), and Lauren Ritchie (Visual Effects Supervisor)

    This is an excellent commentary track. Peter Levy and Ray Lovejoy are clearly watching the film, and the other commentators are editing into the gaps in the main commentary. There is a wealth of fascinating technical information presented in this commentary track, and it provides great insight into the technical side of the movie. This is well worth the time spent listening to it.

R4 vs R1

    The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on;     The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on;     It would have been nice to get all the extras that were on the Region 1 version of this disc, but we have certainly received the most important ones (the commentary tracks), with only minor ones left off. Overall, I would rank both these discs equally.


    Contrary to expectation, or perhaps because of it, I really enjoyed Lost In Space.

    The video quality is magnificent.

    The audio quality is superb except for one section that was out of sync, which was a real pity as otherwise this disc would have earned a reference rating.

    The extras are comprehensive.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Michael Demtschyna
2nd October 1999

Review Equipment
DVD Pioneer DV-505, using S-Video output
Display Loewe Art-95 95cm direct view CRT in 16:9 mode, via the S-Video input. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Audio Decoder Denon AVD-2000 Dolby Digital AddOn Decoder, used as a standalone processor. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Amplification 2 x EA Playmaster 100W per channel stereo amplifiers for Left, Right, Left Rear and Right Rear; Philips 360 50W per channel stereo amplifier for Centre and Subwoofer
Speakers Philips S2000 speakers for Left, Right; Polk Audio CS-100 Centre Speaker; Apex AS-123 speakers for Left Rear and Right Rear; Yamaha B100-115SE subwoofer