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Zathura: A Space Adventure
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27 out of 41 people found the following review useful:

Great for wholesome fun for today's kids.

Author: steven john from United States
3 February 2006

*** This review may contain 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.

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7 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

Jumanji in Space: Pretty Cool!

Author: Chrysanthepop from Fraggle Rock
9 January 2008

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!

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8 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

Way better then Jumanji

Author: spacemonkey_fg from Puerto Rico
22 February 2006

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

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9 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

For kids only

Author: Dee from North Carolina
12 October 2008

*** This review may contain 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.

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9 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

Someone get those kids to SHUT UP!

Author: 46yroldmale from Thousand Oaks, CA
9 August 2008

"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.

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5 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Zathura is stratospheric fun!

Author: DAVID SIM from United Kingdom
9 September 2006

*** This review may contain 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.

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7 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

Oxygen in Space

Author: paulo20 from NYC
30 May 2010

*** This review may contain 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.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

A dumber version of Jumanji... IN SPACE

Author: WakenPayne from Valhalla
1 March 2014

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.

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7 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

Good effects but....the screenplay is wretched

Author: f-zuch ( from Stanwood Washington
4 March 2006

This movie will appeal to the six year olds...and hopefully not to much older.... It was simply a terrible piece of work that went downhill from the opening. If you liked Jimunji, then just watch it again rather than ruin your self with this dreadful film. There is no decent exchange between characters...the set is BORING! Some of the writing for this was so trite and contrived that I thought I would gag!! I was very glad to have it end and even happier to return it ...the same day! The two young actors were poorly directed as well. Tim Robbins is in this for the first five minutes and about the last five minutes....I'm sure he got a decent paycheck but his acting looked flat and as ridiculous as the rest of this thing. If you enjoy watching two young brothers shouting at each other over and over and over again then this may be for you!!

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17 out of 32 people found the following review useful:

Superior casting helps "Zathura" eclipse "Jumanji"

Author: Ron Mexico from United States
7 March 2006

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".

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