I use hands to help my fellow man / I use hands to help with what I can / But when I face an unjust injury / Then I change my hand into FIST OF FURY

Lost in Space

Every summer it hits me. The sun comes out and I start thinking about a certain type of movie: the summer blockbuster popcorn type movie. It doesn’t even matter if I’m excited for the ones coming out this summer or not. And I’m not, really – there’s a couple Marvels and a Star War, but I’m still high off the last ones, and don’t think these will match them. Otherwise MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE FALLOUT is the main event.

Still, I get the fever, I get nostalgic for the old ones, just the feeling of them being out there. The ones I love, the ones I didn’t, the ones I didn’t see. I love the time travel of watching them and writing about them and remembering the time. This summer I have chosen the summer of 1998 as my topic, my destination. It doesn’t seem like twenty fucking years ago. But then again it does.

This first movie was released on April 3rd, which obviously is not summer. But that’s just because they kept making “summer movie” release dates earlier, like Christmas decorations. It had action figures and fast food tie-ins and was designed to stick around for the season. It counts.

Let’s set the stage. Teletubbies was about to begin airing in the U.S. and become a sensation. NSYNC had released their debut album a week ago. Dave Navarro was fired by the Red Hot Chili Peppers on this very Friday. Billboard’s #1 single had been Will Smith’s “Gettin’ Jiggy wit It” for three weeks in a row, on the cusp of passing the baton to “All My Life” by K-Ci & JoJo.

This was a time when people still went to see movies in theaters, projected from 35 mm film prints. Digital projection didn’t exist and 3D hadn’t come back yet. We rented and bought movies mostly on VHS, but increasingly on DVD. DOUBLE TEAM was brand new on DVD, with MORTAL KOMBAT: ANNIHILATION coming out next week. Netflix’s DVD-rental-by-mail would launch later in the month. George Clooney had been the most recent People Magazine Sexiest Man Alive. And I’m not sure very many people gave much of a fuck about the 1960s TV series Lost In Space. But we knew what it was. We recognized it from Nick at Nite or something. So it got a movie.

LOST IN SPACE – April 3rd

The 1998 movie version of Lost in Space is historic: it’s the movie that knocked TITANIC out of the #1 spot at the box office after fifteen weeks. And stayed above it for three weeks. And then dropped a couple slots below it. In the end, the boat crash movie beat the space ship crash movie by about $505 million, but who cares? For just a minute there it was the king of the world.

Eh, not really. No one liked it. This is another one of those movies that I didn’t see at the time. Everybody said it sucked, so I waited for the 20th anniversary. As you know there are many movies that people say sucked, big flop movies, that I have an appreciation for. This is not one of those movies.

Academy Award winner William Hurt (BODY HEAT, A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE, THE LEGEND OF SASQUATCH) stars as Professor John Robinson, the genius inventor guy who, in the futuristic year of 2058, will bring his family on a ten-year United Global Space Force mission to build a hypergate over Alpha Prime so the human race can escape our soon-to-be-uninhabitable planet. But Dr. Zachary Smith (Academy Award winner Gary Oldman, CRIMINAL, ROBOCOP – believe it or not, this will not be his worst movie of the summer), a member of the racist anti-alien terror group Global Sedition, reprograms their robot (original TV show voice Dick Tufeld) to attack them during cryo-sleep, and also gets knocked out and stuck in a heating vent while the ship launches. Whoops.

Anyway the robot fucks everything up before boy genius son Will Robinson (Jack Johnson – not the singer) re-reprograms him and quips “If the family won’t come to the science fair, bring the science fair to the family.” (Painful dialogue like this will make sense in a minute when we get to who the screenwriter is.) Then they’re gonna crash into the sun so they have to do a tricky switcheroo hail mary magic space man maneuver loop (or whatever) that causes them to be spacecasted into a mystery dimension (or whatever). You know, they go missing in the stars. Misplaced in the cosmos. Turned around in the heavens. Whatever you want to call it. They try to go on a derelict space ship. They meet spiders and a monkey. There are time bubbles and a grown up version of Will (Jared Harris, NATURAL BORN KILLERS, RESIDENT EVIL: APOCALYPSE, THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E.) and a small fight, the end. It’s longer than DAWN OF THE DEAD though. (Sometimes I measure movie length in units of DAWN OF THE DEAD.)

I have a soft spot for Australian director Stephen Hopkins (DANGEROUS GAME) because he did A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 5: THE DREAM CHILD and PREDATOR 2. This was his followup to THE GHOST AND THE DARKNESS and obviously he flew too close to the sun this time, so he directs TV now.

(In fairness, the made-for-cable THE LIFE AND DEATH OF PETER SELLERS won two Golden Globes and nine Emmies, and he did the theatrically released Jesse Owens movie RACE in 2016.)

I’m not as fond of Academy Award winning screenwriter Akiva Goldsman. Just because I’ve learned to love BATMAN AND ROBIN after 20 years doesn’t mean I condone the motherfucker. Here we have a similar type of slap-yourself-in-the-face stupid shit coming out of the characters’ mouths without the benefit of Schumacher’s gleeful explosion of tackiness. As the space-stranded family’s oldest daughter Dr. Judy Robinson, Heather Graham (SCREAM 2) sees space slime growing on a ceiling and says, “That matter appears biological.” God only knows what would’ve happened if they didn’t have a scientist there to figure that out. Dr. Smith doesn’t go over-the-top like Schwarzenegger’s Mr. Freeze, but he has a similar attitude about openly describing himself as the bad guy. He says “Nothing good will come of” the slime because “Trust me, Major. Evil… knows evil.” Later he tells Will that he knows about monsters because he is a monster. When the robot grabs him he says “Unhand me you mechanical moron!” I would think somebody was weird if they non-ironically said “unhand me” in 2018, but I suppose it could come back into use by 2058.

The military mind of the mission is Major Don West (Golden Globe winner Matt LeBlanc [Red Shoe Diaries]), whose primary occupation besides trying to get home is the mild sexual harassment of Dr. Judy, the old fashioned kind where she pretends to be turned on only as a way to then tell him to fuck off and justifiably tells him off multiple times because he’s a piece of shit and then at the end they’re in love. Also he says stuff like “If this is all a dream why can’t there be more girls?”

I kinda feel bad for LeBlanc. It seems laughable that he would try to be a movie star, but only because 1) he’s so associated with playing the dumb guy on that sitcom and 2) the movies he ended up in were dumb bullshit like this and the one where he plays baseball with a monkey. I haven’t really followed his career, but I don’t rule out the possibility that if he starred in something really good from this era (and without monkeys) he’d be George Clooney right now. I mean, there was definitely a time when it was hard to picture Woody Harrelson as something other than the dumb kid on Cheers. Tough luck, LeBlanc.

I can’t say the story is very involving, so I had to amuse myself by overthinking the little references they make. When Dr. Smith calls Major West “Dr. Dolittle,” I like to think he’s referring to the Eddie Murphy version, which came out a couple months after this. But maybe he’s referring to a remake that doesn’t exist yet since Dr. Smith would’ve had to have been born around this year, and how aware are even today’s kids of either of those movies?

Similarly, when Robinson matriarch Dr. Maureen (Mimi Rogers, THE MIGHTY QUINN, MONKEY TROUBLE, CRUEL INTENTIONS 2) thinks Professor John is taking credit for all the work, she asks “What do you think I’m doing, throwing Tupperware parties?” I ask you, youth of today, do you know what Tupperware parties are? Is that a reference you ever use? And do you think someone who’s two years old right now will use it in 40 years? Because I’m skeptical.

In 2058 they’ll still have Vogue magazine. I can buy that. But the reason we know is because when they leave on their trip, daughter Penny (Lacey Chabert, A ROYAL CHRISTMAS, THE TREE THAT SAVED CHRISTMAS, FAMILY CHRISTMAS, A CHRISTMAS MELODY, A WISH CHRISTMAS, THE SWEETEST CHRISTMAS, ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS IS YOU, BLACK X-MAS) has some crazy just-out-of-the-shower thing she does with her hair and her mom gets mad about it but she says that Vogue says it will be popular in ten years. Is this supposed to be some idea of how futuristic fashion articles will work or is this some thing where Akiva Goldsman never read magazine articles before and has a weird idea of what they must be like? I mean generally his writing operates in some other place where nobody behaves or speaks like humans and nothing happens in a way that things happen. I should give the benefit of the doubt that it’s a style and not some sort of derangement.

Another funny one: Dr. Smith boasts that he “fought in the Millennial Wars.” Everybody was obsessed with the millennium around ’98, but like I said, Dr. Smith was in no condition to fight a war during the millennium, not being anywhere close to existing yet. By math math, if he’s the age Oldman was at the time he’d be eligible to join up in 2036, so I can only assume his generation were fighting wars against middle aged millennials. (something something avocado toast?)

As far as creating a plausible or original future, the movie’s message about environmental catastrophe remains relevant, other than the emphasis on the depleted ozone layer. (Unless that comes back again.) Also Penny keeps a “Personal Digital Diary” shot in “Penny-Vision” that will surely be dated in 40 years but was ahead of its time for 20 years ago, I suppose. The media at a press conference on Earth, because they represent all nations, I suppose, seem to be very racially diverse. That’s still good.

There’s a bullet time type shot, rotating around them while they’re frozen in time, before THE MATRIX and before, I’m sad to admit, BLADE. Also there are lens flares in space back when J.J. Abrams was a rewriter on ARMAGEDDON and apparently creating a tv show called “Felicity” if IMDb is to be trusted, I’m not sure if that’s something that ever aired or not. Legend has it that Abrams was a huge fan of LOST IN SPACE and that’s where he got the idea for lens flares and for the show Lost and for the movie Star Wars.

One design element that I thought was kind of cool was the glass-orb-based designs of some space ships in the opening, when Major West is battling alongside his buddy Jeb (Lennie James, a.k.a. Morgan from The Walking Dead). And I guess the helmet West later wears is kind of cool. And there’s one cool monster, which (SPOILER) Dr. Smith has turned into in the future after being bitten by an alien spider. I mean, he looks ridiculous when his full CGI insect body is revealed, but under a cloak he’s got a unique and strange look that I like, kind of like a creepy guy that could be in a STAR WARS. And he might be a puppet, I’m not even sure.

Everything else is generic and boring, from the rubber muscle suits to the only-in-1998-would-they-update-to-this-bullshit robot to even the sculpted L and S on the logo. I thought it looked like crap back then and if it’s ever gonna hit retro-cool status it’s gonna hafta be a while longer.

The most memorable part of the movie, and possibly the most hated based on a non-scientific survey I took, is the CGI alien space monkey character that West finds and that becomes Penny’s pet.

According to the merchandise her name is Blawp, and according to the script I found her name is Blip, but I swear they’re calling her Blarp, and that’s what the subtitles say too. Sorry Blip/Blawp, your name is Blarp now. Here is a picture of a doll of Blarp:

I guess that explains why Blarp never caught on. #1, because of that ugly ass doll that nobody would ever want in their house. #2, because they didn’t know her name was Blarp. I have an idea though: next time you need a scary doll for a haunted doll movie like ANABELLE it should be a Blarp doll.

I noticed the Jim Henson Creature Workshop was credited with animatronic effects, and I couldn’t figure out what that meant. Turns out they did Blarp using mechanical puppetry rigs to control the animated character. But these deleted scenes show that there was also an entire unused subplot about a grown up (and animatronic) version of Blarp that comes out of a time bubble.

I suspect there were some angry puppeteers when this shit came out minus grown up Blarp.

This cannot be emphasized enough: LOST IN SPACE came out the summer before STAR WARS EPISODE I. Whatever you think of THE PHANTOM MENACE, it is an enormous fucking leap from this movie, not only in all the important ways of entertainment but on a technical level. I guess I won’t be able to convince most people, but it is astonishing to go from this fucking foam rubbery cgi monkey to Jar Jar Binks in one year. Or from the too clean digital space battles at the beginning of this one (though to be fair ILM had more money and were still using models in alot of their stuff).

Less than two weeks after the release of the film, murderous Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot committed suicide. If LOST IN SPACE had anything to do with it then maybe it was worth it. More likely he did it because he was about to be handed over to an international tribunal. Therefore I cannot say this is a good summer movie.

Note: “Lost in Space” is also the name of the Kool Keith song that includes the classic dis “you comin so wack you sound like the BULWORTH soundtrack.”

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, May 8th, 2018 at 11:04 am and is filed under Reviews, Science Fiction and Space Shit. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

51 Responses to “Lost in Space”

  1. As terrible as this one is, and I hated it when it came out because I liked the old TV Show and also movies, I’ve come to kinda find it watchable in a ‘I don’t think they did one thing right’ kinda of way. Brother and I re-watched it a few years ago and we got (the wrong kind of) enjoyment out of it.

    Mostly I wanted to say the DVD/Blu-ray has one of my favorite audio commentaries ever. Hopkins and Goldsman were recorded separately and best of all it was back in the day so it was recorded AFTER the movie came out instead of before like they do now (well when they bother with commentaries now). Both of them lament that the movie they made is not what we are watching. Hopkins especially makes the movie he made sound really good: (the following is paraphrased) ‘I was attracted it to it because it is about a father who ignores his family in favor of his work. My daughter is a teen and she feels abandoned by me because I’m always gone making movies. I feel a great deal of regret and wonder if I really do think making movies is more important than being there for her.’ I mean it is filled with heart-bleeding moments like this from him. So you can tell he’s super bummed that the movie was taken away from him in post (according to Goldsman the test screening with unfinished effects confused test audiences and New Line freaked out and down-played the time-traveling aspect). Also the commentary has Goldsman saying what his sequel would have been about since it was obvious they were not going to make a sequel.

    So anyone else ever watch that dull John Woo-directed LOST IN SPACE pilot for the CW?

    -Also, dear God Vern, tell me you didn’t watch QUEST FOR CAMELOT…

  2. I have a soft spot for this one, but even back then I considered it underwhelming and more of a damn expensive TV pilot. But man, were my buddy and me pumped for that before it came out, although when we saw it, we were super confused about the lack of the grown up blawp, because a magazin article that we read months in advance featured several pictures of it.

    Weird observation: This was one of the first movies where the effects looked like shit on the clear DVD picture. REALLY shitty! They were okay in theatre (yes, I saw it theatrically), but on DVD you could see for example in one scene a spaceship surrounded by some kind of matte rectangle, as if they didn’t set the layer transparence to 100%. (Hard to explain. I will probably later take a screenshot. [Yes, I own the DVD!]) And later TV airings looked like a bad VHS copy, which was most likely done on purpose.

    But last week I caught my mother watching it on TV. She liked it and the bits I saw seemed like they got a new HD master, that fixed some of the crappier FX shots.

    Some of you, who really read what I post here, wonder now probably: “But CJ, what about the soundtrack!?” And yes, I also own the soundtrack album. It’s actually pretty cool (Another proof for my “Bad movies make good soundtrack samplers observation), although only 3 tracks were actually made for it (as far as I know). It has Apollo 440 doing a crazy version of the TV show theme (and repackaging an older track as WILL & PENNY’S THEME), Juno Reactor, The Crystal Method, Propellerheads (BANG ONE!), Fatboy Slim (EVERYBODY NEEDS A 303!!!), Death in Vegas and Space. After 9 Big Beat/Electropop tracks, it changes to 10 tracks from Bruce Broughton’s score.

    It’s funny btw, how none of the songs on it is played in the movie until they play quick excerpts of them in a row during the end credits.

    Anway: LOST IN SPACE. I don’t hate it. It’s a nice relic of a more innocent spaceship movie time, but I’m not going to defend it as some kind of underrated classic.

  3. Here is Apollo 440’s LOST IN SPACE THEME btw, which obviously lead to them doing more or less the same thing for CHARLIE’S ANGELS a few years later.

  4. Vern, you brilliant fucking bastard you. This review of a movie I never saw and never will was genius. I don’t know if I laughed harder at the Pol Pot joke or the Blarp jokes. Thank you.

    PS. I wonder whether that list of Lacey Chabert’s credits is real, but I’m afraid to look it up in case it isn’t. Either way it’s fabulous.

  5. I saw this one in the theater and had a good time because it’s so colorful and stupid, and that amount of ludicrous CGI eye candy was fairly novel back then. I don’t think I’ve seen it since then. It might hold the record for being the used DVD I’ve considered purchasing but ended up putting back on the shelf the most times. It must have happened 15 times by now. It’s not just that it’s a terrible movie that I should be embarrassed to have in my collection. (That’s never stopped me before.) It’s also one of those old DVDs in the crappy cardboard case that never fits right with standard DVD cases. Maybe when I find it for a dollar or under, the price will finally be right.

  6. It’s weird how many things with monkeys Matt LeBlanc was in. Even Friends had that stupid monkey in it at first. In fact, now that I think about it, there was a shitload of monkey-starring, -featuring or -adjacent movies in the mid/late 90s. Dunston Checks In, Monkey Trouble, Monkey Bone, Ed… I blame Ace Ventura

  7. Summer of ’98 is a bit of a special one for REDACTED, because he was just turning 8 years old and his parents started taking him to “grownup” movies for the first time. While I can’t really defend this one, I thought it was pretty cool when the Matt LeBlanc character put on his space-armor and tricked out his laser to fight the space-spiders.

  8. I frigging love this movie, for all the reasons you hate it. It is not good, at all, but it is tremendously entertaining. It’s like Goldman took a grab bag of random Amazing Stories-era pulp sci-fi ideas, ran them through a blender, then poured the cliche smoothe onto some typing paper to make the script. Lost in Space features not only space travel but *time* travel, giant spiders, space ships from the future, aliens, a robot run amok (twice!), mad scientists, lasers, space fighters, mutant bug-men, a space ship crash, and enough father-son angst to inspire a thousand George Lucases. It’s beautiful ham with cheese, and all the better because if you listen to Goldman’s audio commentary, he really is convinced he wrote High Art here. He makes this clear during one of the scenes where Spider!Oldman is chewing the scenery.

    For what it’s worth, the Jim Henson Creature shop also designed and built the Robot. Supposedly the puppet cost over one million dollars to make.

  9. CJ: I too own the soundtrack

    Gepard: Nice to have backup on how awesome the commentary track is even if I can only meet you half-way on the movie itself.

  10. geoffreyjar: Glad to back you up. I’ve only heard the commentarry once, when AMC (I believe) aired the movie with the commentary (I do not remember why they did this), as I don’t own the DVD or Blu-ray. Even only hearing it once, it made an impression.

    Interesting to read about the studio gutting the time travel plot. I have this recollection of one of the first trailers advertising that heavily, including dialog from young Will that didn’t make it into the final movie. I kinda wish we’d gotten that version, as it implied some dimension- and timeline-hopping craziness.

  11. CJ- The Apollo 440 track actually went Top 10 in the UK. This is a late example of a MORTAL KOMBAT style theme song, for a film which, in many ways, is actually an early (you might say primitive) example of a Nolanesque reboot.

  12. I saw this in theaters as a kid, I didn’t hate it, some stuff was cool like the derelict spaceship and I liked the robot, but I didn’t love it either and have never had a desire to rewatch it since, it provided an ok night of fun at the movies 20 years ago but one look at that CGI monkey makes me want to stay far away.

    By the way, “millennial wars” could be interpreted as a future term for the War on Terror and maybe even the forthcoming war with Iran, though Smith of course would have still been too young to fight in them.

    Sometimes 90s sci fi got it pretty right in that regard, I read a hard science fiction novel from the early 90s last year that makes a reference to “Gulf War 2”

  13. I’m surprised that this many people are defending this film, even if they’re doing so halfheartedly. I watched this in the theaters, and teenage me thought it sucked then. I haven’t watched it since because Jesus Christ, look at that CGI monkey. That was ugly even by 1998’s standards.

    I remember the summer of ’98 being pretty dire when it comes to blockbusters. I’m pretty sure my favorite movie of that summer was the X-Files film, which wasn’t great, but it was enjoyable to see what was essentially an episode of the show with a pretty big budget.

  14. Yup, summer of 98 is indeed pretty dire, I can’t think of a single one I would call a great film, but maybe Vern’s retrospective will shed new light.

    Also, it’s weird to remember the time when most CGI in the 90s and early 00s was really quite bad, even at the time.

  15. Bad CGI always looked like it was made out of liquid.

  16. Yeah, there is something about the old summer movie seasons that felt different. Maybe it’s because we now have year round tent poles. I mean, Black Panther can come out in February. Maybe it’s simply that I work year round now so summer’s no different than the rest of the year.

    Excellent work here, Vern. Got three audible laughs from me: Lacy’s credits, suggesting Blawp as a horror doll, and Pol Pot suiciding over this.

    I remember Lost in Space was one of the five DVDs you got for free when you bought a player. I think Lethal Weapon 4 and Perfect Murder were also included. Wish I could remember the other two but all Warner/New Line titles. Some decent ones but nothing that seem too enticing to buy a then $400 player.)

    I recently read in an old CFQ (part of my nostalgia/research) that akiva loved Lost in Space and it was his dream project to do it right. You’ve got to wonder if the creators of the show saw the movie and said, “THAT’s what you got from our show???”

    Vern, did you ever review Winter’s Tale? It’s Goldsman unleashed since he wrote and directed, but it’s an adaptation of a book that’s even more batshit than the movie. I actually love it.

  17. The Millennial War is a war between baby boomers and the kids of today.

  18. Who here actually used DVD in the late 90s? I don’t even remember hearing about dvd until the PS2 in 2000, which was my first DVD player.

    And even then I didn’t stop watching movies on VHS until 2002, I feel like VHS was still very much king in 1998 and 1999.

  19. We did buy a DVD player in the late ’90s. It came with a free Austin Powers movie, but I didn’t hold that against the DVD machine itself.

    My wife & I saw this one in the theater that spring. It was such a forgettable movie that I read Vern’s review & thought, “Huh. I don’t remember that happening…” I don’t even remember that damn Blarp, and I have a pretty decent movie memory.

    But this did seem like it was supposed to be a jumping-off point for Matt LeBlanc’s movie career. In a way I’m glad that didn’t happen, since if it had we might not have Episodes.

  20. I’ve heard of DVDs in the late 90s (I think around 1999 or 98 video stores started to put them on their shelves, not to mention that more and more movies came out in that format, although many of them were two sided and had to be flipped in the middle of the movie), but bought my first one in 2000. It was one of the first discount players (for I think 399 DM) and I used the money that was supposed to be for my driver’s licence. Not sure if my mother ever forgave me for that, but screw her. I’m still not able/allowed to drive a car, but I got a nice movie collection and so far she hasn’t complained about it either.

    My first three DVDs were TRUE LIES, AUSTIN POWERS and the EL MARIACHI/DESPERADO double feature, btw. I don’t know where the LOST IN SPACE one ranks, but it was definitely one of my first 10 or 15.

  21. BTW Vern, I think that at least some of Goldman’s dialogue was a homage to the hammy dialogue of the Dr Smith of the original series, who was more of a funny villain* than someone Oldman would play. The “unhand me” line definitely sounds like that and they even managed to snuck his catchphrase “The pain, the pain” in there.

    *In a Starlog interview, Jonathan Harris told the story how he decided to ham it up as a mix of Nic Cage-esque “I wanna try something interesting” and “Fuck that show, I wanna get fired”. But the latter backfired. After a few days a producer stormed into his trailer, seemingly willing to kick his ass, but all he did was pointing at him, saying: “Youuuu…I know what you are doing! Keep doing it, everybody loves it!”

    He also said that he declined to appear in this movie, because he refused to do any kind of bit parts and cameos. They didn’t let him play Dr Smith again, so he isn’t in the movie at all.

  22. >They didn’t let him play Dr Smith again, so he isn’t in the movie at all.

    And it’s pretty obvious what role was intended to be his; Dr. Smith’s minder, the one who phones in via holographic Bulge-o-Vision and tries to electrocute Smith, was the right duration and level of importance for a Harris cameo.

  23. *I meant Oldman’s dialogue, not Goldman’s dialogue in my previous post. That what happens when you talk about a movie written by Goldsman, starring G.Oldman early in the morning.

  24. I think I bought my first DVD player in 1999. It was when DIVX* was discontinued, so the players (which were working DVD players) got marked down real cheap at Circuit City. I remember a co-worker telling me I should put tape over the DIVX logo so nobody knew.

    *a really stupid idea where you would buy cheap ass DVDs that stopped working after 48 hours. Basically disposable DVD rentals.

  25. Yikes, I’ve never heard of DIVX DVDs before. Seems like they never made it to Europe (for obvious reasons).

  26. In those last days of VHS Hong Kong movies were sold so cheap in this one store I went by on my way home from work, that I bought two or three every second day. Knowing very well that they would represent a storing problem in the future. Something my wife takes great pleasure in informing me of once a week.

  27. I actually can’t remember for sure what the first DVD I owned was (might have been ONE HOUR PHOTO weirdly enough) but I do remember the first DVDs I watched, FANTASIA 2000 which was the first movie I ever watched on DVD (blew my freakin’ mind), the 1999 THE MUMMY (first director’s commentary I listened to) and A SOUND OF MUSIC.

    And beyond those 3, which were the first I can clearly remember, I also not long after watched CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON though I can’t remember if there was anything between the first 3 and that, JURASSIC PARK was also somewhere around that time.

    So weird to remember the time DVD was absolutely mind blowing and new and in hindsight it was quite nice being able to get a huge bump in picture quality without having to buy a brand new TV, I guess that’s a technological feat that will never be repeated.

    It’s also weird to remember when VHS wasn’t practically stone age technology.

  28. Franchise Fred – yep – in around 1999/2000 Sony DVD players came with five DVDs (at least in the UK), of which LIS was one. Also Spawn and The Mask, but can’t remember the others. I still have LIS as it was technically my first DVD. The others are long gone. I kept this one because I liked the opening 10 minutes and the commentaries. It is terrible, though.

  29. Somehow, I saw this in the cinema. I still don’t know what I was thinking.

    The first DVD I ever bought was the movie “Dobermann” – but only after emailing the director to make sure it was uncut.

    The first DVD I bought to go with my first ever DVD player was “Bring It On”.

  30. * puts on cool sunglasses * My first DVDs were A BETTER TOMORROW, A BETTER TOMORROW II, and A BETTER TOMORROW III. * walks away know that I am the coolest person here now *

  31. I don’t remember mine but I’m positive I wanted it to be Wargames.

    Also, anybody ever owned a laserdisc player?

  32. I bought a DVD player with my Christmas gift money in 1998. I just wanted bonus features like Laserdisc always had. I remember DIVX. My college roommate had a friend who really believed DIVX was gonna win the disc wars. It wasn’t just disposable. You could reactivate it for another 48 hours any time you wanted to watch it again. So the idea was pay per view, and I think it even had the option to permanently unlock it to own, which ultimately became what VOD is. But why would you buy a physical disc if you weren’t going to own it? They didn’t think that one through. And all the DIVXes were full frame.

    A year later I bought a laserdisc player because I thought the formats would coexist side by side. I was wrong about that but I still have the player and a few discs because of the non special Star Wars and just I’d always envied laserdisc and by the time I got one, DVDs had way more available.

    My first DVD was actually Quest for Camelot, which was also a summer of 1998 bomb. My sister bought it for me because we’d gone to see it in the theater together, so I’m keeping that one for sentimental value.

  33. Every few years I dig out an old movie magazine that has an ad for a Laserdisc shop, that says proudly: “In the future, movies will only be released on Laserdisc and not on DVD!”

    Next time I find it, this is gonna go viral.

  34. Stern: I used to own a used a LaserDisc player with a friend. The really cool LDs still go for a lot though.

    “My first DVD was actually Quest for Camelot…”
    I… I’m so sorry. I promise I won’t be as hard on you anymore.

  35. I used to be a late adopter of new technologies, so I clung to VHS for far longer than I should have. Part of my reluctance was seeing all the everything-must-go VHS sales all over the place, and the other part was thinking a friend’s DVD player made everything look pixilated. I had a similar experience with Blu-rays, but then I guess my eyes adjusted and I never had that problem again. Finally, my girlfriend at the time got sick of me collecting already obsolete media so she bought me a DVD player for Christmas 2003, along with a two-pack of the first two X-MEN movies.

    I don’t know what the very first DVD I picked out for myself was (I suspect I went out the very next day and used some gift cards) but Amazon says the first DVDs I ordered from them were FIGHT CLUB, the DIE HARD TRILOGY, and BURIAL GROUND, an Italian zombie movie where a 35-year-old guy with progeria plays a child who bites his mom’s boob off. So I had my priorities in the right place I guess.

  36. Thanks Geoffreyjar. I liked Quest fine in ’98, hence my owning the DVD. I look forward to the revisit. I understand it compromised Iron Giant when it bombed with a year left in production on Iron.

    I also remember getting my hands on import Hong Kong DVDs, often from Netflix, and finally seeing the movies in the proper aspect ratio with clear subtitles!

  37. I think Blade might have been the best summer film of 98, or perhaps Lethal Weapon 4 (still really like that film). I guess Saving Privat Ryan is a summer film, because it was released 24th July. You also got The Truman Show and There is Something About Mary (still the best Farrelly brothers film).

    I think my best memory from that summer was watching Armageddon in the theatre (wasn’t that the highest grossing film of 1998). Kinda enjoyable but the action is just confusing as shit. Remember PEter Stormare did an interview where he talked about how they cut an hour out of the film, and now it didn’t make any sense. I can’t think any of us could handle 3,5 hours of Armageddon. I also never watched Deep Impact that was also released before Armageddon.

    You also had Martin Campbell doing is magic with the Mask of Zorro, and you also had the terrible The Avengers (the reason why Avengers was called Avenger Assemble in the UK). I’m not sure if the Avengers, Lost In Space or Godzilla was the worst film of that summer.

    There where also some decent counter programming that summer: Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, H20 (why was this released in August, and not in October), Bullworth, 54 (okay this might be kinda bad, but serious Mike Myers) and Out of Sight (okay this might be my favourite film of 1998).

    There is also the forgotten thriller The Negotiator starring Samuel L. Jackson and Kevin Spacey. Such a great supporting cast with JT Walsh, Paul Giamatti, David Morse, John Spencer, Ron Rifkin and Dean Norris.

    Will you review Species 2, and didn’t you recently do the Big Hit?

    Actually summer of 1998 seems kinda good. A lot of favourites there. I started to collect vhs in 1998. If I didn’t buy it, I either rented it or watched it in the theatre.

  38. I think FANTASIA 2000 was actually the perfect first movie to watch on DVD since it was all about impressive animation and music with no dialog, you could really soak up the clarity and visual impact of DVD over VHS.

    I forgot to mention something about LOST IN SPACE though, my one contribution I can really add as younger than most of you all here and that’s the toy commercials for LOST IN SPACE toys featured the memorable and oh so 90s catchphrase of “Lost in Space, IN YOUR FACE!”

    I actually did buy the robot toy.

  39. Will I be the lone guy who thinks AVENGERS is kinda enjoyable despite Fines and Thurman having zero chemistry?

  40. You’re not alone.

  41. The Winchester

    May 9th, 2018 at 8:24 pm

    Out of Sight was best of summer 98, hands down. ( RIP Anne Coates). I miss that anticipation of what blockbusters would be huge, which ones would bomb, which would suck horribly… Nowadays you pretty much know what you’re gonna get.

    I missed Lost in Space in the theaters, but caught it the next year on vhs! I remember not enjoying it, then truly hating the cliffhanger ending so much I yelled “oh Fuck you!” At the t.v. to the amusement of my roommates. Havent revisited but that soundtrack sounds pretty dope, I’ll have to check it out.

    And to join in the DVD remembrance, i feel like Suicide Kings was always in those free packs with Lethal Weapon 4. I also feel Sphere and/or Wag the Dog was in there.

    And my first purchsed dvd was Run Lola Run in fall 99. But, a year earlier (a year before I even had a dvd player) I was gifted my very first DVD: Sizzle Beach USA! Lloyd Kaufman gave it to me, he was a firm believer in the future of dvd technology! True story.

  42. Say what you want about this movie, but it’s much more entertaining than the pilot of the new Netflix show! (Also the Robinsons were less stupid and hateable in 1998.) Has anybody seen the rest of the season? Does it get better? Are they stuck on that damn ice planet or will they go somewhere exciting?

  43. The best movies in ‘98 were RONIN, FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS and RUN, LOLA, RUN.

  44. Chabert is practically owned by the Hallmark movie studio at this point, so I wouldn’t be shocked if those credits are legit.

  45. geoffreyjar- No you wont be, I’ve got a soft spot for THE AVENGERS too. We’ll get into it when it comes around but in short, the version released is a mess, I sincerely doubt it was ever anything else, and the public weren’t wrong to reject it, but it’s one of those films with enough moments/touches I really enjoy, and an overall vibe I like enough that I can’t help but like the film.

    One film I would go to the bat for if it comes up is 54. I’m mostly going off the well received Director’s Cut, which I’ve watched a couple of times over the last two years, but I remember enjoying the theatrical cut too. Some scenes are unforgettable, and it’s one of the few films to capture the excitement of being in a great nightclub. Sure, it helps that I’m interested in Disco, club culture and pop culture in general, but we all bring our own biases to these things.

  46. I won’t go into too many AVENGERS related details either until the review hits, but for a change I can say that this is a widely hated movie that I don’t enjoy either.

  47. Hasn’t Vern reviewed Avengers ‘98 before?

  48. Nope, but we talked about it a few times in the comments and at least on one occasion I remember Vern putting up a joke link in a review, that made it look like it would lead to the 98 movie, but then sent you to the Marvel one.

  49. CJ, I don’t want to pre-empt your attack THE AVENGERS (1998), but please tell me the MCU call their movie Schirm, Charme und Melone Zusammenkommen in Germany.

  50. Unfortunately not. But I might from now on.

  51. I can’t remember the first DVD I saw, but I remember the first one I owned. PEE-WEE’S BIG ADVENTURE. I got my first DVD player in 2000. The first Laserdisc I saw was ALADIN, shown in mind blowing at the time surround sound. I still remember my first VHS rental as well: THE LAST STARFIGHTER…an excellent choice!

    I saw this in the theater and was fairly excited to kick the summer movie season off. I remember the late 90s made a real big deal over who would win the blockbuster wars and such…especially 96,97 and 98. Anyway, I am a huge defender of a lot of really unliked movies…but this one is rough. Not much to reccommend here, but maybe Blarp has aged funny.

    I think the DVD probably has that deleted scene on it…I never actually rented it though to see.

    The new NETFLIX lost in space is decent, though a way too serious take on it. LIS seems to beg for a wacky treatment…their version was pretty serious and in the more or less real world. And not much to do with weird aliens and such, more regular survival stuff like getting stuck in ice and rationing the fuel. It’s well done, but I would have preferred a kookier take. Better than this crap though.

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