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Zathura: A Space Adventure
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Reviews & Ratings for
Zathura: A Space Adventure More at IMDbPro »

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96 out of 131 people found the following review useful:

Wonderful adventure

8/10
Author: gpeltz from United States
19 November 2005

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.

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77 out of 113 people found the following review useful:

jumanji for trekkies

8/10
Author: takatomon from where i am is where i am
13 November 2005

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.

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55 out of 75 people found the following review useful:

We loved it- great family fun!

9/10
Author: nancysinger1011 from United States
2 January 2006

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!

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39 out of 51 people found the following review useful:

Surprisingly nice. If I was a kid I'd have loved it........

8/10
Author: Nednehsa from United States
6 August 2006

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.

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56 out of 86 people found the following review useful:

jumanji for trekkies

8/10
Author: takatomon from where i am is where i am
13 November 2005

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.

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57 out of 91 people found the following review useful:

For Kids who Just can't Stand Each Other!

10/10
Author: bell266 from United States
26 January 2006

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.

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33 out of 45 people found the following review useful:

Well worth the watch

10/10
Author: watchmanz from New Zealand
19 September 2006

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.

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41 out of 61 people found the following review useful:

KIDS ONLY! (No adults allowed)

10/10
Author: enderbc from Canadian in China
27 May 2006

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.

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29 out of 40 people found the following review useful:

Kindergarten to Fifth Grade Unless You are a Kristen Stewart Fan

6/10
Author: aimless-46 from Kentucky
4 August 2006

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.

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25 out of 33 people found the following review useful:

great family movie!

10/10
Author: bearingup from Pacific Beach, Washington, USA
9 August 2006

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!

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