American Fable is ambitious, maybe too much so sometimes, but there's an intense pleasure in the boldness of the film's style.
“Lost in Space” is a dim-witted shoot-'em-up based on the old (I hesitate to say “classic”) TV series. It's got cheesy special effects, a muddy visual look, and characters who say obvious things in obvious ways. If it outgrosses the brilliant “Dark City,” the previous sci-fi film from the same studio, then audiences must have lost their will to be entertained.
The TV series was loosely modeled on the novel The Swiss Family Robinson, about a family shipwrecked far from home and using wit and ingenuity to live off the land. I loved that book, and especially its detailed description of how the family made tools, machines, and a home for themselves, and trained the local animals.
The movie doesn't bother with such details. After a space battle that is the predictable curtain-raiser, and a quick explanation of why and how the Robinson family is setting off for a planet called Alpha Prime, the film takes place mostly onboard their saucer-shaped ship, and involves many more space battles, showdowns, struggles, attacks, hyperspace journeys, and exploding planets. In between, the characters plow through creaky dialogue and exhausted relationship problems.
Imagine the film that could be made about a family marooned on a distant planet, using what they could salvage from their ship or forage from the environment. That screenplay would take originality, intelligence and thought.