An old and forgotten game develops magical powers in this fantasy for the whole family. Twelve-year-old Walter Budwing (Josh Hutcherson) and his younger brother, Danny (Jonah Bobo), figure they're going to be in for a boring time when their father (Tim Robbins), who was supposed to spend the day with them, is suddenly called away on business, and gives them strict orders not to leave the house. Walter, who doesn't have much use for Danny, is motivated by boredom more than anything else when he agrees to play a board game Danny has found in the basement during a round of hide-and-seek. However, the boys quickly discover the space-themed game Zathura has some unusual qualities -- a roll of the dice unexpectedly launches the Budwing home into outer space, and Walter and Danny are suddenly fending off menacing robots, angry aliens, and showers of interstellar debris outside the Earth's atmosphere. As the boys try to figure out a way back home, they get some unexpected help from an ...
Originally conceived as a direct sequel to Jumanji (1995). VFX supervisor Ken Ralston was lined up to direct before Sony Pictures abandoned the project in favor of adapting "Zathura". See more »
When the Zorgons first appear, they shoot out the windows in the kitchen. But later, when the astronaut is telling the kids to shut off all the lights, the windows are intact. See more »
Oh, man. That's it. Nice grab. Oh, yeah.
All right, Danny, your turn.
What? l didn't get my full turn!
Yeah you did. I counted. That was 25. That's what we said.
That's not fair!
lt's exactly fair. Come on, Danny. Time for your turn, then l gotta work for an hour.
[getting into place]
You know, you're not the only one who gets a turn.
"The only one who gets a turn."
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In the UK, two sequences where an aerosol is used as a blowtorch and where fire is set to a sofa with the use of an accelerant (around 1 min 17 secs) were cut by the distributor. This is because the BBFC have a very strict policy on imitable techniques (headbutts etc.) and decided that the scene was unsuitable for anything lower than a 15 certificate. Since this would have excluded the entire target audience, Sony asked for the scene to be cut in order to obtain a PG certificate. See more »
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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