The original Lost In Space television show is thirty years before my time, yet with this new Netflix interpretation of a television classic, feelings of nostalgia are invoked in a fantastic way that draws the audience in, allowing everyone to get comfortable and hang on for one wild ride.
Every version of Lost In Space, including a comic book run that predates the 60s run of episodes is loosely based on the Swiss Family Robinson book. Set thirty years in the future, Earth is a mess and colonization has moved past speculation into a full-blown reality. It’s here we meet the Robinson clan on route to Alpha Centauri, their theoretical new home.
It’s quite easy to see why this new incarnation of the show is so great: by mixing a classic adventure story that’s family friendly while also presenting stylized action, humor and poignant character moments, Lost In Space offers a thread for everyone. Whether it’s the characters, the world building or the promise of adventure, Netflix’ newest sci-fi offering is an awesome series you shouldn’t miss.
An intense opening gets us into the middle of the action quick, learning about the family and its individual members while under extreme duress. I loved this style of storytelling because the audience quickly comes to know who these people are by the way they react in times of peril. They’re a family, and all of the performances feel believable in that sense. Nothing is ever perfect and relying on each other despite unspoken tensions and veiled barbs, is what anchors the heart of the show.
Television veterans Molly Parker and Parker Posey are the two standouts so far. Parker as Maureen the matriarch is tough and imposing, evoking that lioness aspect around her three kids. Posey on the other hand is the show’s most dynamic character and without spoiling anything, had me feeling all types of ways about her character arc as a scientist trapped on this new world. Jacob Stephens plays the father and while giving a decent performance, he feels wooden with his character not hitting the emotional notes of the others.
The other major focus of the show rests on the three kids and a robot. With any production, the kids are the make or break factor. One bad child/teenage performance could stick out like a sore thumb or steal the spotlight. In this case, all three of the Robinson kids are fantastic.
The writers wisely gave each kid a recognizable trait, Tracey Russell’s Judy has a deep knowledge of both medicine and combat skills for example. But the show only uses these traits as a starting point, presenting traits and themes we’re comfortable with before expanding and fleshing out the characters in meaningful ways. A prime example of this is seen through Mina Sundwell’s Penny Robinson, a linguistic, book loving genius who early on is forced to engage in a high stakes scenario involving a high-tech rover, in order to help the family. It’s a situation outside of her area of expertise, but it allows for natural character progression.
The main point of view we see the story from for the most part is from Will Robinson and his robot. For me, this was a risky choice, since actor Maxwell Jenkins is the youngest of the three kids. A younger perspective could potentially alienate older viewers, if he can across as too juvenile. But Jenkins is great here, and the relationship he builds with the robot is nuanced and nerve wracking because the audience never knows if the robot can be fully trusted. This dynamic is a continuous plot point throughout, providing some interesting conversations around A.I and the notion of being human.
Lost In Space is also gorgeously shot, with a wide variety of terrain to soak in. The juxtaposition of the tight, claustrophobic nature of the ship and the wide sweeping landscapes is well done, providing a realistic sigh of relief on the family is able to explore their surroundings. The score helps provide that nostalgic feel, full of horns and swelling strings, it sounds similar to the original show while maintaining an updated feel with it’s pounding drums. One has to wonder how much money Netflix poured into this project, as the production value are really good, especially when it comes to the choice use of CGI.
Overall I think that Lost In Space is a great addition to the sci-if focused offerings that Netflix seems to be producing a lot of recently. I’m excited to see where they’ve decided to take the Robinson’s story, hopefully keeping the tight on the family and their interactions with this strange and beautiful world. I would highly recommend you watch this over any of the recent Netflix sci-fi film offerings.
By Devin Jones