Netflix "Lost In Space" - Danger Will Robinson, Danger!
It's appropriate that the photo accompanying this spoiler-free review is of the new incarnation of Will Robinson, played by twelve-year-old Maxwell Jenkins as he is the second best thing about this 2018 reboot of a 1960s "classic" tv show. Why the second best? More on that later. Why "classic" in quotation marks? Well, because as the old saying goes, nostalgia ain't what it used to be. I recently went back to watch one of the original tv series episodes and it is camp beyond belief with unbelievable scenarios and alien characters. The Gary Oldman remake in 1998 was poorly received. The space (pardon the pun) has been open for a reboot for some time. Enter Netflix.
The series is set thirty years in the future as planet Earth becomes more and more inhospitable to human life. We're never really sure what exactly has happened. We do see flashbacks to a meteor event which raised an significant ash cloud. Colonists are selected and sent on a mission to colonise a new planet near Alpha Centauri. Something happens which sends our intrepid explorers off course. This is, I suppose, one of my frustrations with the series. It uses flashbacks to tell us how we got to where we are. It is not used to good effect here. Some of the flashbacks are incoherent and do little to fill the myriad plot holes in the script.
The family Robinson find themselves crashed on a planet and encounter trial after trial to help establish the characters and the premise. The family consist of John (Toby Stephens), Maureen (Molly Parker), Judy (Taylor Russell), Penny (Mina Sundall) and Will (Maxwell Jenkins). Rounding out the main ensemble are Don West (Ignacio Serricchio) and the ever-present Dr Smith (Parker Posey). For me though, the star of this re-boot is the Robot played by Bryan Steele. The robot is enigmatic and clearly alien in origin. This aspect comes to partial fruition towards the end of the ten-episode season and sets up the series for hopefully a better sophomore outing.
Lost in Space clearly cost a lot of money and the effects and sets are well realised. Gone are the cardboard and garish colours of the original. Instead, we get a believable, high-tech world where, it's interesting to note, human foibles remain. For me, the characters is what let this series down. They are written as caricatures of themselves. We have so many stereotypical relationships that I'm surprised anything original happened at all.
I almost stopped watching after the first three episodes but I'm glad I persevered. It has set up something promising for Season 2...if it gets renewed.
As a fan of science fiction, it is good to see the genre on the screen however this re-imagining will not be to everyone's taste.
Approach with caution, or to quote the Robot - "Danger Will Robinson, danger!"