Whether it's a sequel, a parallel story or just by the same author, "Zathura" is a lot like "Jumanji." The movie is about a couple of kids who play a game that ends being a little more real than they were expecting - only this time it's set in space, and not quite as good.
"Elf" director Jon Favreau is behind "Zathura" (or, according to one of "The Apprentice" contestants, "Zenthura"), and he is definitely becoming a mainstay director. With a little-known cast (other than Tim Robbins who has a very small role) and probably not a gigantic budget, "Zathura" is a fun and action-filled movie filled with meteor showers, deadly robots and blood-thirsty aliens - all wrapped into a hard PG rating.
The movie starts off great, establishing how siblings Danny (Jonah Bobo) and Walter (Josh Hutcherson) get on each other's nerves. The two boys are absolutely terrific off one another; their constant, berating exchanges seem very natural and believable. When nine-year old Danny finds a game in the basement called Zathura, the film immediately kicks into high gear, as their house gets transported into outer space, bombarded by meteors and attacked by a poorly-programmed robot.
For the first half of the film, "Zathura" is funny and engaging. Little goes wrong. Then, it begins to fade as the slim plot starts to show. The film never completely loses its edge, but never regains it, as the two boys encounter a rather annoying astronaut and a bunch of so-so aliens. There are some cheesy moments, especially revolving around the identity of the astronaut, which could have easily been done away with; had Favreau slimmed down his movie by 15 minutes it would have been solid.
"Zathura" is a fun little film that will appeal to people of all ages. While not as good as "Jumanji" and a little tiresome by the end, "Zathura" is a good film the whole family can enjoy.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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