Battling brothers, Danny (Jonah Bobo, Crazy, Stupid, Love) and Walter (Josh Hutcherson, The Hunger Games), have been at each other’s throat since the divorce of their parents. While spending time at their father’s (Tim Robbins, Mystic River) house, Danny discovers an old board game in the basement. He convinces Walter to play, and they inadvertently unleash the magic forces within the game.
Reaction & Thoughts:
If the story sounds familiar to the 1995 film Jumaji is because both films are based on books written by author Chris Van Allsburg. Neither film is perfect, but they are both entertaining, especially if you are a young adult or you are just young at heart.
Zathura: A Space Adventure, written by David Koepp (Jurassic Park and Death Becomes Her) and John Kamps, directed by Jon Fraveu (Ironman), is a bit more violent that it needs to be, but I guess it is pretty mild considering the kind of stuff kids are exposed to nowadays.
Also, I liked the first half better than the second one. The whole thing starts losing steam the moment the story shifts its focus to the astronaut (Dax Shepard, The Judge). In my opinion, the filmmakers did a poor job integrating the character into the narrative. Perhaps that’s a problem inherited from the novel.
Fraveu’s direction is average at best. The project needed a filmmaker like Terry Gilliam (Time Bandits), whose ability to rise above the commonplace is extraordinary. The visual & sound effects could have been better too. They aren’t bad, but they do lack imagination. The same goes for the sets. The material was ripe for innovative new ideas and it’s too bad that Fraveu and his team took the easy way out.
The two protagonists are very good, especially little Bobo — the young actor is irresistible. Kristen Stewart (Twilight), who plays the boys’ sister, is wasted. She offers very little to the movie.
Conclusions & Final Thoughts:
Overall, Zathura is a nice but unmemorable adventure for kids — I liked it but not loved it. Frank Oz (TV’s The Muppet Show) is the voice of the robot. With Douglas Tait (Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull), and Derek Mears (Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters). Color, 101 minutes, Rated PG.