• Nednehsa6 August 2006
    Surprisingly nice. If I was a kid I'd have loved it........
    There are quite a few nice things about this film. In particular, Zathura is an aesthetically intelligent film. The makers did a great job of not relying too heavily on CGI; very thoughtful design and effects. The convincing use of miniatures, real sets and chaos/destruction really brought the story to life. True, its a kids movie. But not so much that it annoys, there's a timeless and attractive notion of adventure. Really hearkens back to the glory of 80's kids adventure movies. The film's gadgets and knick-knacks were great. The house and Zathura game-board were both characters in and of themselves, every bit as important as the actors (who did a fine job).

    Throughout I felt like I was watching a little of "Time Bandits" mixed with some "Goonies" and maybe some "Hitchikers Guide..." or "House".

    Some folks seem ambivalent to the film. That's unfortunate. Up against a lot of the uninspired sh*t that is released these days, Zathura is very successful in creating a fun and visually convincing escape. Half way through the movie I realized that I was waiting/anticipating the film's failure, that it was going to let me down. Never did.

    I appreciated the film.
  • gpeltz19 November 2005
    Wonderful adventure
    It is rare when a movie transports me back to my childhood memories, reminding me of the time when playing games use to be fun. Adventures were limited by imagination, and Summer days were transformed into magic. "Zathura", directed by Jon Favreau, based on a book by Chris Van Allsburg, came knocking on my door and invited me to come out and play.

    Author/Artist, Van Allsburg has a wonderful gift. His vision is firmly planted in a realm of childhood experiences. More illustration than words, his books evoke worlds of wonder. The last movie based on one of his stories was, "The Polar Express" directed by Zemeckis. It is making it's re appearance as a seasonal movie. It is well worth seeing, and if you can find it in IMAX 3-D, it is phenomenal.

    Van Allsburg's book, "Jumanji" was filmed less successfully back in 1995. It failed because it could not find the right tone. Zathura nails it. Both books share the same plot device; Children find a board game that transports them into the game. Cards are drawn that effect their fate and their surroundings. The only way to escape the perils of the game, is to play it through. Jumanji was a jungle game and Zathura is a space adventure.

    What elevates this film is the believable interactions of the two young players. Jonah Bobo plays the six year old Danny, who is always getting in the way of his older brother, ten year old Walter, played by Josh Hutcherson. Danny is looking for friendship and attention from his brother, who in turn considers Danny to be a pest and a nuisance, competing for the attention of their recently divorced father, played by Tim Robbins.

    The boys have an older sister Lisa, played by Kristen Stewart. She is living in a world of her own, between her preening and dating, the boys hardly see her. Although she does join the game late in the film, for most of the film she is cryogenically indisposed.

    The Game itself is a marvel of brightly painted tin and wind up gears. To play is simple, wind it up, push a button and watch a number come up, this determines the number of spaces your playing piece will take. Two rockets chase each other around the twisting path. After your piece moves, a card pops up. The card describes the action to follow. Danny draws the first card that says, "Meteor Shower, Take Evasive Action" and the game is on.

    The movie is visually stunning. The discovery by the children, that their house has been transported to a location in outer space, hovering above a ring of meteors that encircle a large planet, is jaw dropping. The effects are real enough to imply danger, but logic is not a function of children's games, so it does not matter that oxygen, gravity and warmth still exist in the house, even as it is blasted apart by various forces.

    Along the way the boys encounter a young astronaut played by Dax Shepard, who helps them out of perilous situations like battling engulfing black holes, and evading Fierce carnivorous lizards called Zorgons. Along the way the Astronaut teaches them lessons in brotherly cooperation, and even beguiles Lisa into sharing the adventure.

    While funny and exciting, it is never preachy, Zathura is intelligently written and directed, this is a great family film. I give it **** out of five stars.
  • nancysinger10112 January 2006
    We loved it- great family fun!
    My son (age 10) liked Jumanji and is an avid reader. When he learned "Zathura" would be the next Van Allsburg book to come to the screen, he made me promise we'd see it.

    We nearly missed our chance (it was at the second-run theater) but I am glad we made it. "Zathura" was excellent- we were riveted the entire time and my son THEN made me promise we'd buy the DVD when it was released! Since one of the main characters was a 10-year old boy like him, naturally I knew he'd like it. But I really liked it too and thought that every actor's performance was exactly right. Not cutesy in that "movie kid" kind of way, but very real. I flinched at some of the older brother's dialogue- it was so mean and angry toward the little brother. But that's how it is!! Kids are so mean. This movie did not shy away from it (OK, that set up the ending, but still).

    Even the teen sister was great. Tim Robbins, as the harried dad (little screen time) was spot-on. Families of divorce have a whole separate set of behavioral rules to learn and live by, and this movie nailed it.

    Thumbs-up from all of us!
  • takatomon13 November 2005
    jumanji for trekkies
    i was expecting this film to merely be a decent way to waste some time like it's predecessor, but zathura is better. it's just as wacky as jumanji, but just seems to make more sense.

    it's a little bit on the short side and i expected a few more action scenes, but what's there is pretty good.

    the dialogue is funny, but was a little more edgy than i expected.

    overall, the film moved along at a brisk pace and had some nice unexpected twists. it was nice to see that it was filmed as a retro "buck rogers type" sci-fi game, but with modern day action levels. it's a nice mix.

    the film offers enough action to keep your attention and enough surprises to keep you guessing. it was a lot better than i expected it to be. it was fun.
  • bearingup9 August 2006
    great family movie!
    Probably one of the best family movies I've ever seen. Lots of good clean fun, maybe a little bit scary for the youngest viewers, but not too scary for school age (I think). I intend to recommend it to my sister for her kids. I'm a big fan of Chris Van Allsburg's books. I enjoyed Polar Express a lot, but I loved Zathura. Definitely the best movie from his books to date. Almost as interesting as the movie itself was the making of the movie information from the DVD. I thought Josh was adorable, particularly how much he loved his stunts. I heartily recommend this movie. I watched it on a loan, now it's on my wish-list. Definitely a keeper for me!
  • aimless-464 August 2006
    Kindergarten to Fifth Grade Unless You are a Kristen Stewart Fan
    Those who criticize "Zathura" for being a copycat "Jumanji" are apparently clueless about the Van Allsburg's books. "Zathura" is a sequel to "Jumanji", it is about what happened when the Budwing brothers opened the game box that Peter and Judy discarded at the end of "Jumanji". Early board games were often designed with two-sided boards so that the game pieces could be used to play two different games-usually of the same type. "Zathura" was the flip side of the "Jumanji" game board and the ones the brothers chose to play (because Walter did not like jungle games). So it is "supposed" to be like another "Jumanji".

    Having grown up with this same sibling age dynamic (six and ten) I was not surprised at the amount of yelling, anger, and resentment that goes on between the two brothers. I was however surprised that anyone would find this sort of thing entertaining. While their divorced father (Tim Robbins playing the only sympathetic character in the film) is away at a meeting, the younger brother (Danny) finds an old Zathura game in the basement. Based on those old 1950's tin toys it involves two tin spaceships on a track racing around space. Each spin of the dial determines the distance the ship will move on that turn and a card is ejected detailing what happens to the ship at that point of space.

    As Danny and Walter face the challenges of space they discover that they can work as a team and they even develop some affection for each other (a more unrealistic idea than anything they actually encounter in space).

    Like the source book, the movie adaptation of "Zathura" targets kindergarten to Grade 5 children. Like "Sharkboy and Lavagirl", older viewers will find very little of interest other than a fun production design and nice effects.

    Unfortunately "Zathura" it is not as pure as "Sharkboy and Lavagirl", which uniquely refused to compromise its "for kids only" story. "Zathura" does compromise, as the producers attempt to expand their audience by creating an older sister (Lisa played by Kristen Stewart) who was not a character in the book. While Stewart is fine in this role and even provides some comic relief, it is rather disturbing that the producers chose to turn her into a pubescent sex object, blustering around the house in her underwear for most of the film. Van Allsburg's illustrations are the best part of his books but a "hot teenage sister" is not an image he has ever published.

    Then again, what do I know? I'm only a child.
  • watchmanz19 September 2006
    Well worth the watch
    It's not often a "kids movie" will keep me entertained right through by Zathura did just that. The actors are excellent, there are plot twists, and it's just good old fashioned fun as well. I was pleasantly surprised when watching this movie and at the end I wished it had been longer. Jonah Bobo and Josh Hutcherson work extremely well together as the two lead characters and with special effects that are realistic (as realistic as a fantasy film can get anyway) the end result is an excellent movie for all ages. Jumanji was good but Zathura is great and I can highly recommend it to everybody. Take your kids to see it, take your parents to see it - take everyone to see it.
  • enderbc27 May 2006
    KIDS ONLY! (No adults allowed)
    If you're watching this show looking for science fiction, don't bother. This is a story in the grand old Buck Rogers vein. It's for KIDS. i never watched the show as a critical adult trying to find flaws in it or worrying about suspension-of-belief. i watched it as i used to when i was a kid, going to a Saturday afternoon matinée. Excited, thrilled at being in the theater... popcorn and pop in hand. Fidgeting in the seat until the lights dimmed. Then the anticipation... ready to enter into the story. i wasn't disappointed. The movie captured my imagination from start to finish. My advice; this is for kids only. If you're a grown-up, leave your adulthood at the door. If you enter into it as a kid you'll experience the wonder, the suspense, the thrills, the chills.

    This movie will stay with me forever.
  • bell26626 January 2006
    For Kids who Just can't Stand Each Other!
    This movie was surprised me. The only reason I went to see it was my boys ages 8-15 begged me. This film mirrored my boys. It was like watching them in action. For the first time they could see themselves in living color. They could see how horrible they treat each other. This film taught my boys a lesson they will not soon forget.

    If you have children (boys or girls) who just treat each other like crap, then take them to see this movie. It has a moral all wrapped up in action, adventure, intrigue, and edge of your seat excitement. I really loved how the movie inspires kids to be adventurous. My scary little 8yr old learned that it was okay to be afraid just along as the fear did not control or hinder your efforts.
  • steven john3 February 2006
    Great for wholesome fun for today's kids.
    Warning: Spoilers
    This is a very straight forward flick with great action sequences and great chemistry with the actors. Though some parts might be a little scary for some kid's the movie is never violent and no one ever get's hurt. There's a good dose of fun and it's engaging for adults also. Zathura is a rare film in that it's demographic isn't global in scope. I'm not sure how it would go over with young girls but I saw it with my brother and his kids (my nephew's) and we all were entertained. The special effects are not over the top and are well done. The pace is predictable but the scenes are not. Great movie for anyone with a good theater system. Fun movie for both kids and adults.
  • Chrysanthepop9 January 2008
    Jumanji in Space: Pretty Cool!
    I'm pretty much sure that if you've liked 'Jumanji' then you'll enjoy this one. As a kid, I loved 'Jumanji' and 'Zathura' does not disappoint at all. Of course, both movies are adaptations of books written by the same writer. I was watching it with my kid sister who was having a blast. The two main characters are two brothers who are probably 10 and 7 years of age. The kid actors are quite good and they don't overdo the cute act. However, Kristen Stewart is the caricature whiny older sister who doesn't care. Thankfully, her role is limited. The only directorial venture of Favreau I have seen was 'Made' which was a laugh out loud dark comedy, completely different from 'Zathura'. He does seem to know the kind of movies kids love and families can enjoy. He's moving to being more versatile as a director as he's done a fine job so far. The special effects are awesome. Just like the engaging weirdness in 'Jumanji'. The house floating outer space, the dim lighting in the house, the house breaking, the bicycle orbiting around the floating house...all work well and add to the amusement. Highly entertaining! Kids will love it! Therefore families will love it too!
  • lovadoll6 November 2005
    way better than i thought
    I went into Zathura expecting a bunch of crap but wow was i ever surprised.This movie is sooo cool it's scary.Being a 16 year old girl I only went to see this movie because my nephews wanted to see it and I ended up having more fun then they did.Zathura is a very different adventure film from the creator of the snore fest Jumanji.Unlike Jumanji this is much more fun and charismatic and is much easier to follow.Zathura is one of those family films that will turn out to be a classic like The Sandlot because it's just about the most entertainment a kid can get out of a movie.It is meant to be fun and wacky and successfully delivers what it set out to do.Zathura is a fun filled adventure for the whole family.So get to the theatre and enjoy Zathura 10 outta 10 all the way.
  • Dee12 October 2008
    For kids only
    Warning: Spoilers
    Unlike Jumanji, this is NOT for anyone smarter than a 5th grader. They use typical kid shortcomings instead of writing a clever script. Much of the story didn't make sense or was simply unbelievable. They seem to just make stuff up to fit what they wanted - some things floated in space including the sputum and the astronaut, but the kids were totally unaffected by 0 gravity. The guy stuck in the game, the Zorgons we never see, the robot repairing itself forever, all seemed like lazy writing and directing. The youngest kid screws up constantly and says I'm sorry at least 40 times. I was so sick of this needy, whiny child that I didn't care if they made it home or not. I'm sure there are parents who don't know how to discipline their kids so some will find this believable. Those who feel parents should address rude and co-dependent behavior early, will lose patience with this mess of a movie driven by redundant bad behavior.
  • 46yroldmale9 August 2008
    Someone get those kids to SHUT UP!
    "Jumanji in space". That's the line on this little stinker. Don't believe it. Much more like "Annoying Children in Space". If it tickles you to watch really annoying brats in odd situations then this is a dream movie for you. As I watched the movie on CD I was so uncomfortable that I figured it must have bombed like crazy in the theaters, and that based on how much it must have cost to make I also figured the director never got a big budget movie to screw with again. I was right about the bomb! I was right about the budget! And...the director goes on to make mega budget, mega successful Iron Man. Only in Hollywood. What ever success there is in the future for director Favreau, this frustratingly annoying, whiny, nonsensical mess is an unfortunate stain on his resume.
  • Lee Eisenberg15 January 2014
    Jumanji, help!
    Warning: Spoilers
    OK, so "Zathura: A Space Adventure" is based on a book that was a sequel to "Jumanji". I've read "Jumanji" but not the sequel. Anyone who's read "Jumanji" knows that the part about Robin Williams's character was not in the book; had the movie followed the book exactly, it would've only been a few minutes long.

    So about this movie. Like the former movie, it depicts a board game that brings about danger every time that someone takes a turn. More accurately, the movie seems like a retread of the former movie. One can see a correlation between some of the characters in each movie. But that's where the similarity ends. You see, "Jumanji" is a fun movie no matter what age you are, while "Zathura" is aimed at elementary-age children. I wish that they'd looked at where the game originally came from, as "Jumanji" did.

    In conclusion, this movie is only worth seeing for the early appearances of Kristen Stewart and Josh Hutcherson (Peeta Mellark in the "Hunger Games" franchise).
  • juliemedina10 November 2005
    thinly disguised lesson in brotherly love
    Warning: Spoilers
    After a long day of listening to my boys fighting, I decided we all needed to get out of the house and see a movie. I corralled my husband, my daughter and both of my sons into the car. I painstakingly made sure that my daughter sat between the two boys so that they could not kill each other on the drive to the theater. Sure enough, the drive consisted of them reaching across their sister's lap to pinch and poke each other. By the time we reached the theater, all I could think about was how great it was going to be to quietly watch a movie for two hours…

    Little did I know that Zathura is a thinly disguised lesson in brotherly love. Throughout the first half to two-thirds of the movie, the audience is subjected to fight after fight between the two brothers, Danny (played by Jonah Bobo) and Walter (played by Josh Hutcherson). The resemblance to my two sons is uncanny. I believe I even heard the same words and pitch on the screen that I had been subjected to earlier in the day—this was certainly not the relaxing experience I had hoped for when deciding to go to a movie. By the end of the movie, the brothers learn that in order to survive and return home, they must learn to work together. The final scene shows the brothers playing ball together and acting like best friends—yeah right.

    Zathura, directed by Jon Favreau, is almost an exact replication of Jumanji, released in 1995. The only difference is the age and gender of the participants and the location of the adventure. In Zathura, Danny and Walter decide to play a board game that Danny finds hidden under the stairs. When Danny hits the button to begin the game, meteors bombard the living room, the house breaks away from earth and floats through space. If I hadn't seen Jumanji first, this would have been a good movie. But after seeing Jumanji, this was just way too predictable.

    As sappy and nauseating as the hour-and-a-half long sermon about getting along with your brother was for me to watch, it seemed to have the desired effect on my sons. As we drove home, my nine-year-old son fell asleep with his head on his older brother's lap.

    My older son's response as he shrugged his shoulders for emphasis was, "He was hurting me with his head digging into my shoulder so I moved him." I might have believed that response if his hand was not protectively wrapped over his younger brothers shoulders. Even though I know that bonding will be short-lived, it is a moment that will go down in history for our family.
  • paulo2030 May 2010
    Oxygen in Space
    Warning: Spoilers
    Wow, this film just wasn't very good. Nothing wrong with the visual aspect, that I noticed, and the basic premise seems to be a sound one, but its execution and just about everything else about this movie stunk. You probably know the premise (JUMANJI in space), so no need for me to go over it.

    But I bet you didn't know that there's oxygen in space. Or so this movie would have you believe. Aliens and a robot move around and about the house and liberally smash great big holes into the house but the inhabitants, two boys and their elder sister can breath just fine. One might chalk this up to this being a fantasy or some such, if not for the fact that the characters themselves make a point about the concern about air. Also, at one point, a couch is set on fire, set loose into deep space and continues burning, blithely unaware of the laws of physics.

    As for the acting, the two boys and teenage girl are grating and their acting is not very good but I blame this on a terrible script. The actors do the best they can with the lines given.

    As for the plot, it's just an exercise in random events. Let me cite a few examples. At one point, the game produces a gold card, granting the player a wish. What does the kid wish for, while they're flying around, lost in space, with a murderous robot in the basement, and aliens blowing firing laser cannons at their house, and they're constantly screaming at each other at the top of their lungs? He wishes for a football, signed by Brett Favre. No, really.

    But the stupidity doesn't stop there. The sister quickly develops a crush on the Astronaut, a man who got rescued from space as a result of the boys playing the game. This Astronaut reveals to the older brother that he too played the game, got a gold card and wished his brother were never born. Thus he strongly cautions the the boy about what he wishes for (before he wishes for a football). This is significant because, later in the game, the same kid gets another gold card. This time he wishes for the Astronaut's brother to come back...

    And then, we have a "twist." The vanished brother is none other than the younger brother. The Astronaut is none other than the older brother aged about 20 years and trapped in space from playing Zathura. The movie does nothing to explain this odd paradox (or anything else for that matter); you're just meant to accept it.

    Of course, we're also either asked to accept or expected to forget that the Astronaut wasn't able to recognize his younger brother, nor his younger self, nor the sister who had a crush on him (btw, we're meant to find this particular development humorous). The only twist here is in the movie's logic.
  • spacemonkey_fg22 February 2006
    Way better then Jumanji
    Title: Zathura (2005)

    Director: Jon Favreau

    Review: You know the type of movie that you watch when you are a little kid and you never forget that film and hold it close to your heart for all your life? For me it was all about The Goonies and Explorers. Zathura is going to end up being one of those movies for a whole new generation of kids growing up right now.

    Zathura is just a variation of what we saw earlier in Jumanji. Jumanji was a board game that once you started playing it would transport a savage jungle along with all its beasts and perils right into your living room. With Zathura we get the same basic idea, only this time around the adventure transports us into space. And all the alien creatures, spaceships, meteor showers and malfunctioning robots that come along with it.

    There's a couple of things I liked better about this film then Jumanji. For example with Jumanji you got all these special effects and all these creatures and things happening, but to me personally the film always seemed a little empty. It didn't show anything to kids. It just felt like this empty shell of a movie with lots of razzle dazzle effects. And heres where Zathura improved on the whole idea: this movie had a whole lot more to say then Jumanji ever did.

    With Zathura you get these two little brothers. One is six and one is ten. So naturally they are always fighting for attention and are in a constant competition to see who is best, who is first and who their dad loves the most. Once they get going on their space adventure they will learn to value and care for each other. And their bond as brothers grow. So yeah, Zathura has a lot more to teach to kids and has an actual message as opposed to Jumanjis empty effects.

    But on top of that you get some kick ass action and adventure. And this is the part where I said, man some little kid somewhere is LOVING this movie. There was a lot of care taken to make this movie not just a preachy movie about loving your family and brothers..but an entertaining film as well. With some cool special effects too boot. You gotta love the giant malfunctioning robot, you gotta love those lizard like aliens called the Zorgons. I liked the fact that Hollywood didn't say, ah, its a kid movie, they wont notice. The effects here are top of the line cool stuff.

    The performances by the two kids were great. I loved the fact that they seemed real. Kids fight like this, they talk to each other in this way. And the kids at the same time weren't annoying in the least. They acted very naturally and non of their acting felt forced or fake. Tim Robbins makes a cameo as the dad of the kids.

    So in conclusion, if you have kids rent this movie and watch it with them. Theyll learn something in the process and you'll go back to being that ten year old kid saying cool every five minutes. Its a win win situation.

    Rating: 5 out of 5
  • Ron Mexico7 March 2006
    Superior casting helps "Zathura" eclipse "Jumanji"
    Let's face it: "Zathura" is basically a carbon copy of "Jumanji", with the former based in space and the latter based in the jungle. Both involve children playing a seemingly innocuous board game that shockingly comes to life, with the players needing to finish the game in order to survive.

    With two such similar premises, how is that "Zathura" ended up as a completely superior film to "Jumanji"?

    In my view, the reason begins and ends with the casting. Tim Robbins, kind enough to take time out from his busy politicking schedule in order to actually do some acting work, was perfectly cast as the father and added a sense of legitimacy to the film. The boys themselves were excellent young actors. Jonah Bobo as 'Danny' in particular was very impressive; it's easy to recognize his talent and emotional range as he goes from contrite younger brother to jealous sibling to frightened school kid within the span of a few frames. Josh Hutcherson's understated performance grows on you as you realize that his role is to play the sullen, long-suffering older brother.

    In contrast, "Jumanji" had the overly exuberant (synonyms for "incredibly annoying"?) Robin Williams hamming it up yet again in one of his most unlikable roles, a cameo by Frasier Crane's wife (Bebe Neuwirth) and two nondescript kids. 'Nuff said.

    I could go into plot points, but the basic premise of a game that comes to life about sums it up. The difference is that the audience actually cares about the fate of the kids in "Zathura", whereas the average viewer is probably rooting for Robin Williams to be eaten by a wayward lion in "Jumaji". If you're in the video store and are trying to choose between the two films' (and if you can get past some questionable language by Jonah Bobo's character in the beginning of the film), go with "Zathura".
  • jennapeterson13 September 2016
    Not for adults
    Nice premise, some cute comedic moments, but not a movie for adults.

    There's about 15-20 minutes of plot, and the rest of the screen time is the two brothers yelling at each other to take their next turn in order to advance the game (which only one brother realizes is what they need to do to resolve all the things the game throws at them).

    The astronaut character is a welcome break from the 2 insufferable bickering brothers. Really wish he showed up sooner!

    I've seen other reviewers praising Stewart's character as a welcome relief from the brothers, but I find she doesn't have enough screen time to do that. (Never thought I'd say that about Stewart.)
  • Leofwine_draca13 January 2016
    Space junk
    ZATHURA: A SPACE ADVENTURE is nothing more than an outer space version of JUMANJI, with aliens and space stuff replacing jungle creatures. It's a film singularly devoid of imagination, despite the outlandish premise, and I can honestly said I had more fun with an ultra-low budget film like THE DAY TIME ENDED (in which a family's home is attacked by stop motion aliens) than this mega budget offering.

    The director behind this fare is Jon Favreau, who makes a typically soulless production that focuses on special effects over decent scripting or performances (anyone who's seen the first two IRON MAN films will be familiar with his work). A couple of annoying kids (including the eminently hateable Josh Hutcherson) play a board game that makes their house travel into the depths of outer space, where they embark on the usual CGI augmented adventures, i.e. lots of stuff is destroyed or blown up.

    Kristen Stewart (TWILIGHT) is cast as the older sister and, somewhat bizarrely, as the film's eye candy, parading around in skimpy underwear throughout, even though she would have only been 14 when this was filmed. Say what you will about the sexualisation of young actresses in Hollywood...A tired Tim Robbins takes the role of 'token Hollywood actor', but the emphasis is on the CGI throughout. Most of it isn't bad at all, but the structure of the narrative is such that the film's action is severely limited in scope and much of the running time has to rest on the shoulders of the two young actors, who just don't cut the mustard.
  • DAVID SIM9 September 2006
    Zathura is stratospheric fun!
    Warning: Spoilers
    I've always had a certain affection for Jumanji. Granted the plot is on the slight side and it's carried by a barrage of special effects, but it still entertains, and its a lively romp. 10 years have passed, and we now have an almost unofficial sequel, with the same basic premise, but more fleshed out characters, and the action taking place this time in outer space. That film is Zathura.

    Danny and Walter are two bickering brothers who have been left at home while their Dad has had to run out to work for an hour. In the meantime, Danny discovers a retro-styled board game in the dumb-waiter. A game called ZATHURA. A very old-fashioned game with wind-up figures and cards that slot out, when Danny starts playing, the house is suddenly blasted off into outer space.

    Unaware of ZATHURA'S incredible powers, Danny and Walter now have to put their differences aside and work together to finish the game if they ever hope to return home. But that's easier said than done with some of the obstacles the game throws at them. Meteor showers, runaway robots, lethal aliens and black holes.

    Anyone who's seen Jumanji will recognise the similarities between that film and Zathura, but in some ways Zathura is a transmogrified version of the same idea. There is more characterisation evident here. Danny and Walter are two very realistic brothers, who argue over the slightest things, but the able playing by the actors ensures precocity is kept at bay.

    The film adds a level of realism to their relationship through the inclusion of a dysfunctional family unit. Their parents are separated, and there are times when they blame each other for that, even though they know deep down that it isn't true. It's not surprising the writing is so sharp with David Koepp handling the screenplay.

    Also Zathura is a very exciting film with a lot of great special effects undercut by a sly, infectious humour. Such as their sister Lisa who is also in the house, and accidentally gets caught up in the game when ZATHURA freezes her for a number of turns. There is some great slapstick humour to be had when the two boys have to move her frozen body and it goes sliding down the stairs.

    The effects are top notch, better than Jumanji's. One moment that springs to mind is when they first realise they're in outer space. There is a dazzling image of considerable beauty when they open the front door and the vastness of space is out there. A lot of the spatial phenomena is handled well, especially the wormhole at the end. A scene that quite takes one's breath away.

    But there is also a retro look to some of the things that emerge. Like the robot coming out with slogans that wouldn't have been out of place in Lost in Space or Forbidden Planet. Or rocket ships that have none of the sleek, streamlined finish they have nowadays. I'm sure this would elicit fond memories of nostalgia from older members of the audience.

    Zathura is not strictly a kids film. It manages to generate real moments of suspense, such as the sound of the robot coming, or the meteor shower destroying everything. Some of the science-fiction doesn't quite hold water though. They're in space, but there's gravity inside the house, oxygen, and nobody gets sucked out into space when the doors and windows are open. Unless it's some form of protection afforded by the game, but since it seems so insistent on placing them in danger, you wonder why it would bother with aliens and robots to do the job when all it would have to do is let the vacuum of space in.

    But I suppose it's easy to ignore plot holes in light of Zathura's entertainment value. There is some fine ensemble playing from the cast, including an astronaut in the game who helps fight off the dangers of ZATHURA. He has a rugged Captains Courageous characteristic to him, and the truth of his identity brings a shocking twist to the exciting climax.

    Zathura is first class entertainment. An under-appreciated gem with lots to enjoy, and a fine example of how one film with an identical plot line can be adapted into something quite different.
  • djsappy25 July 2006
    You may as well watch Jumanji
    Warning: Spoilers
    Okay my siblings really enjoyed it and for some reason I was drawn into joining them

    I'm my opinion this film is, overall, pretty awful and is basically a tacky version of the 'prequel'; the same storyline as Jumanji, the only real difference it being set in space

    There are many cheesy lines and is obviously not aimed at an older age group

    I really enjoyed Jumanji and feel as if it has just been ripped off for the sake of making a new film

    However, it seems as though kids would enjoy it as a lighthearted film
  • WakenPayne1 March 2014
    A dumber version of Jumanji... IN SPACE
    Okay so I decided to sit down and watch this because... It was on TV and MirrorMask would play next. When I did sit down to watch it what I got was probably one of the dumbest family films I've ever seen (I say "one of the" because the animated Titanic movies exist).

    The plot is that 2 kids sit down and play a magic board game while their father is out and their older sister watches them. They play through together with the help of a stranded astronaut who has played the game before and their older sister.

    Okay down to my complaints. The dialogue is some of the laziest I've ever heard. Lines dominate the movie which tell us exactly what's going on screen. Why did they say it? I mean it's like the screenwriter thought that nobody would pay attention to what's going on and just added in the lines to recap "okay, this is what's going on, are you looking at the screen yet?".

    The acting is bad. I mean when one of the best performances in the movie is Kirsten Stewart then you have some spectacularly bad problems with casting. I'm not kidding when I type this either, she goes over-the-top in a way that could be laughed at.

    Then there's the drags to the film. There's a simple scene where the 2 bad acting kids resume playing the game, okay seems simple enough. They drag this for what feels like an eternity showing them arguing while the astronaut calms them down... For about 5 seconds, as they continue dragging the film to yet another complete halt. The worst of them being the 20 minutes of them trying to get the game board from an alien race.

    The story arc of Walter is rushed to an extent where it's almost literally blink and you'll miss it. The story arc consists of him not liking his brother and the astronaut for less than 10 seconds explains why they should value each other and... That's it, the entire movie from the perspective of this kid is changed literally within moments.

    So this movie has a lot of things wrong with it. I mean the acting aside from the astronaut ranges from "not caring" to "over the top", The constant detours drag this film heavily, the story arcs are literally blink and you'll miss it and the dialogue is not needed to an extent that you can cut out half of it and you'll miss nothing.
  • EmperorNortonII24 November 2005
    "Jumanji" In Space
    "Zathura" is a science-fiction movie directed by Jon Favreau, and based on a book by Chris Van Allsburg. "Zathura" is similar to "Jumanji," which is also based on the work of Van Allsburg. In this story, two quarreling brothers discover an old board game in the basement, which launches their house into outer space. This movie does not quite have the scope of "Jumanji," but it is still enjoyable. There is a lot of excitement, and the visuals are well done. The movie has a good retro science-fiction look. The story is adequate, teaching some lessons as it goes. At times, though, it might seam preachy. In the end, "Zathura" is still worth watching.
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