Several of the actors from the original TV series had cameos in the film.
In the year 2058, Earth will soon be uninhabitable due to irreversible effects of pollution. In an effort to save humanity, the United Global Space Force (UGSF) elects to send Professor John Robinson and his family—wife Maureen, daughters Judy and Penny, and young prodigy son Will—on a 10-year mission on the spaceship Jupiter II to complete the construction of a hypergate over the planet Alpha-Prime, allowing for the population of Earth to be instantly transported to and populate it as a new home. Initially, Penny is resistant to leaving: rebelling by breaking curfew, while Will's prize-winning science experiment involving time travel goes largely unnoticed by the family patriarch. Global Sedition, a terrorist group against the mission, assassinates the Jupiter II's pilot, and hotshot fighter pilot Major Don West is instead recruited to fly their ship—much to his chagrin.
Doctor Zachary Smith, the family's physician, turns out to be a spy for the Sedition who sabotages the ship's on-board robot before launch, but he is betrayed by his cohorts and left unconscious as an unwitting stowaway as the ship launches and the family enters cryosleep for the journey. The robot activates soon after they are asleep, and following its corrupted programming, begins to destroy the navigation and guidance systems, en route to destroying the family itself. Smith awakens the sleeping Robinsons and West, who manages to subdue the robot; yet due to the robot's actions, the ship is falling uncontrollably into the sun. Forced to use the experimental hyperdrive, which has an unpredictable trajectory without a hypergate to go through, the ship is transported through hyperspace to a planet in a remote and uncharted part of the universe, where their known star charts are useless. Going through a strange distortion in space, the crew finds two abandoned ships in orbit, the Proteus, an Earth ship, and another ship that is clearly not of human origin. They board the Proteus, with Will controlling the now-modified robot by remote-control to aid them. They find navigational data that can be used to get to Alpha-Prime along with a camouflaging creature whom Penny calls "Blarp", and evidence suggesting the ship is from decades in the future. They are attacked by spider-like creatures; in their escape, Smith is injured by one of them, and the robot's body is damaged beyond repair, but Will saves it's computerized intelligence. Pilot West ignores orders and destroys the vessel to eradicate the spiders, and as a result, the ship crash-lands on the nearby planet-where the strange distortions from before continue. Will theorizes that they are distortions in time; in fact, they are his science experiment's predicted results. His father, however, frustrates Will by ignoring his input. His father and West head off to explore one of these time bubbles, and encounter a future version of Will, who explains that some spiders had survived and attacked after his father and West had left them, and that Maureen, Penny and Judy were all killed. Constructing a time machine, Will intends to go back to Earth prior to the launch of Jupiter II, and prevent it from happening.
Meanwhile, young Will and Smith head out on their own to investigate the time bubble. Smith tricks Will into handing over his weapon, but he is foiled by a future version of Smith who had been protecting Will ever since the rest of the family was killed, and was unwittingly transformed by an infection from the spider injury into a kind of anthropomorphic creature. Will and West return to their time with an injured Smith in tow, while the future Smith reveals his true actions: he had killed the Robinsons, but kept Will alive to build the time machine, so that he could go back in time to populate Earth with a race of space spiders. John remembers that the spiders eat their wounded, rips open Smith's egg sac with a trophy Will had turned into a weapon, and while Smith's own army devours him, he is thrown into the time portal, which rips him apart. The increasing instability of the planet caused by the portal forces the Jupiter II to take off, but they are unable to reach escape velocity and are destroyed by the planet's debris. Will realizes that his father never actually abandoned them, and that he really does love him after all. Setting the time machine's controls to send John back to his family, he himself is unable to go along—for there is only enough power for one person. Saying goodbye to his family, Will disappears into the future and John reunites with his living family. Realizing that they don't have enough power to escape the planet's gravitational pull, John suggests that West do what he did when they were falling into the sun: drive the ship down through the planet, and use the gravity well to slingshot them back into space. They are successful, but the planet turns into a black hole, which begins to suck them back in, and the Robinsons once again activate the hyperdrive to escape. Using the navigational data from the Proteus to set a potential course for Alpha-Prime, the ship blasts off into hyperspace.William Hurt as Professor John Robinson
Mimi Rogers as Professor Maureen Robinson
Heather Graham as Dr. Judy Robinson
Lacey Chabert as Penny Robinson
Jack Johnson as Will Robinson
Matt LeBlanc as Major Don West
Gary Oldman as Dr. Zachary Smith / Spider Smith
Dick Tufeld as the voice of the Robot
Jared Harris as Older Will Robinson
Lennie James as Jeb Walker
Several of the actors from the TV show appeared in the film. June Lockhart (Maureen Robinson) appeared as Will's school principal "Cartwright" in a hologram. Mark Goddard (Major West) appeared as Major West's commanding officer. Angela Cartwright (Penny Robinson) and Marta Kristen (Judy Robinson) appeared as news reporters. Dick Tufeld returned to his role as the voice of the Robot. Jonathan Harris, who played Dr. Smith in the series, declined an offer to cameo as a Global Sedition representative who deals with Dr. Smith in the film, declaring "I've never played a bit part in my life and I'm not going to start now!". Billy Mumy was likewise offered a cameo, but turned it down after being told he would not be considered for the part he wanted—the role of the older Will Robinson—because he was told that would "confuse the audience."
TVT Records released a soundtrack album on March 31, 1998, featuring eleven tracks of Bruce Broughton's original score (which makes no reference to either of the TV themes composed by John Williams) and eight tracks of techno music (most of which is heard only over the film's end credits). A European version of the soundtrack album was released that omits the tracks "Spider Attack", "Jupiter Crashes", and "Spider Smith" in favor of three new songs unused in the film by Aah-Yah, Asphalt Ostrich, and Anarchy. Intrada Records released a score album for the film the following year. (The track "Thru the Planet" on the TVT album is not the same as "Through the Planet" on the Intrada release, but is a shortened version of Broughton's unused end title music heard on the score album as "Lost in Space.")
All music composed by Bruce Broughton.
On its opening weekend, Lost in Space grossed $20,154,919 and debuted at number one at the box office, ending Titanic's 15-week-long hold on the first-place position. It opened in 3,306 theaters and grossed an average of $6,096 per screening. Lost in Space grossed $69,117,629 in the United States, and $67,041,794 outside of America, bringing its worldwide total to $136,159,423, making it a moderate box office success. Those results were deemed insufficient, however, to justify a planned sequel.
Reviews were generally negative for Lost in Space, drawing criticism for its darker tone. Rotten Tomatoes has reported that 27% of critics gave them a positive review. The site's consensus reads: "Clumsily directed and missing most of the TV series' campy charm, Lost in Space sadly lives down to its title." It also holds a rating of 42% on Metacritic from 19 critics.
Roger Ebert gave the film a rating of 1 and a half out of 4, calling it a "dim-witted shoot-'em-up". Wade Major from Boxoffice magazine rated the film at 1 and a half out of 5, calling it "the dumbest and least imaginative adaptation of a television series yet translated to the screen." James Berardinelli was slightly more favorable, giving the film a rating of 2 and a half out of 4. While praising the film's set design, he criticized its "meandering storyline and lifeless protagonists," saying that "Lost in Space features a few action sequences that generate adrenaline jolts, but this is not an edge-of-the-seat motion picture."
The film was given a Golden Raspberry Award nomination for Worst Remake or Sequel, but lost against the tied The Avengers, Godzilla and Psycho.
VHS, DVD, and later a Blu-ray have been released for the film. Both DVD, and Blu-ray contain deleted scenes.