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Spring Movie Preview: April 1998

‘Lost in Space,’ ‘Hope Floats,’ and more

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Lost in Space
Starring William Hurt, Matt LeBlanc, Gary Oldman, Mimi Rogers, Heather Graham, Lacey Chabert, Jack Johnson
Directed by Stephen Hopkins
Danger, Will Robinson! Sensors detect another cheesy ’60s TV show about to be turned into a highly franchisable big-screen Event Movie!

Actually, New Line’s $70 million version of the loopy 1965-68 CBS series — famed for its papier-mâché sets and tinfoil space suits — veers way off course from its Irwin Allen inspiration. This Lost in Space is being hyped as a darkly serious sci-fi adventure. “The TV show careened wildly into camp after the first season,” explains the film’s writer-producer, Akiva Goldsman (who also wrote the last two Batman movies). “But it started as straight sci-fi and action. And that was the Lost in Space I wanted to do.”

Certainly the story line sounds serious enough: Twenty-first-century Earth is sinking into global ecological disaster, so Hurt (Michael), playing rocket man John Robinson, sets out on a hapless journey to colonize a distant planet called Alpha Prime. He’s joined by Rogers (The Mirror Has Two Faces) as his biochemist wife, Graham (Boogie Nights) and Chabert (TV’s Party of Five) as his daughters, 10-year-old Johnson as whiz kid Will Robinson, Friends‘ LeBlanc as the swashbuckling Don West, perennial psycho Oldman as the infamous Dr. Smith (“The closest character I’ve ever played to myself,” Oldman confesses), and, of course, Robot, who’s been updated with a menacing new look by Jim Henson’s Creature Shop.

Still, don’t expect a completely humorless Space trip: “We tried to keep the heart of the old show,” says Goldsman. “We pay tribute to it with cameos by many of the original cast members, with certain lines the characters say — but we try to give it all a ’90s spin.”

If the spin works, expect the Robinson gang to be bouncing around the galaxy for years to come. New Line has plans to turn Lost in Space into an ongoing franchise, à la Paramount’s hugely successful Star Trek series. “They’ve signed all of us to slave contracts,” jokes Rogers. “We’re on for two more movies.” Which is no problem for LeBlanc: “As kids, we used to reenact Lost in Space, and everybody would fight over who got to be Don West,” he says. “I guess I ultimately win.” (April 3)
UPSIDE High curiosity quotient; great franchise possibilities. DOWNSIDE The filmmakers may be the only people in the universe who take Lost in Space seriously.

Hope Floats
Starring Sandra Bullock, Harry Connick Jr., Gena Rowlands, Rosanna Aquette, Michael Paré
Directed by Forest Whitaker
Bullock stars in the timely story of a former high school beauty queen and young mother who’s humiliated on a daytime talk show by her two-timing husband (Paré). Burned by her 15 minutes of fame, she returns to Texas with her tail between her legs and begins putting her life back together with the help of her batty mother (Rowlands), daughter (Mae Whitman), and the love of a good man in a cowboy hat who had been her childhood friend (Connick).