Zathura” stars Jonah Bobo, Josh Hutcherson, Dax Shepard, Kristen Stuart, and Tim Robbins. It’s directed by Jon Favreau (Made, Elf) and based on a book written by Chris Van Allsburg.
Two competitive brothers, Danny and Walter, end up having their attention geared towards a game that shoots them into outer space called Zathura. After the first move is made, there is no turning back and you must complete the game to get back home. The two must form a team and beat the game before the game beats them.
Although this concept has been explored before, it has been years since then and if anyone has the ability to make it another fresh approach, Jon Favreau has a pretty good chance. Apparently he fails at doing so by clustering a rampage of destruction into a two hour movie without any real sentimental attachment. The film keeps centering on the moments of bickering between Danny and Walter, it becomes quite obvious that it is leading a twist of an ending that reaches top-notch cheesiness. When you run out of movies to watch and haven’t yet seen Chris Van Allsburg’s Jumanji rip-off, it’s not a complete disappointment.
Stan Winston manages to slip in an overload of lively special effects. The special effects are impressive but overused and the film never focuses the on the emotional fondness of its characters, something the film was in dire need of. It’s not exactly a film that will appeal to grown-ups as much as kids, but if I were ten years younger I would probably have a blast and it succeeds in not being entirely forgettable. Every kid should enjoy this high octane family flick, while adults might ask the question “Where’s Robin Williams when you need him?”. Unlike the film it so deliberately copies, this movie dwells on the unconstructive relationship between the main characters and plans the set-up for a mawkish moral, rather than just making the movie a fun-filled adventure. A better version of this film was released thirteen years ago and I highly suggest renting that version for more enjoyment.
This movie does have a big heart, it’s just dislocated thanks to the rambunctious occurrences that dim the emotion level immensely. This is such a destructive film, I wouldn’t be surprised if you find your kids more catastrophic than ever. Jumanji has enough distractions (wild animals, a handful of characters, ect.) to overlook the massive disaster that occurs in the movie. While I can’t quite recommend Zathura to adults, kids should find it to be a solid piece of entertainment. Just be prepared for a rowdy bunch afterwards.