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Zathura: A Space Adventure
cast: Tim Robbins, Josh Hutcherson, Jonah Bobo, Dax Shepard, and Kristen Steward

director: Jon Favreau

101 minutes (PG) 2005
widescreen ratio 1.85:1
Sony DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 8/10
reviewed by Robin Landry
Zathura, directed by Jon Favreau (Elf), is a movie based on a book by Chris Van Allsburg, who also wrote the book Jumanji, so if you've seen the film of Jumanji, you're going to know what happens in Zathura. I'm puzzled at the reasoning behind making a movie that so closely resembles another movie, but that's not a question I'm going to get answered, so here's my review.

Zathura is the story of two brothers, Walter (Josh Hutcherson), ten, and Danny (Jonah Bobo), six, who are spending time with their divorced father, (Tim Robbins). Although he's the prefect laid-back father, Tim Robbins' patience, and the fact that he's divorced and full of guilt, allows the boys to have a an ongoing battle that wears thin in the beginning the movie. Sure, all kids fight, but these two boys really go at it. Walter, the older brother, acts as if his younger brother is the reason for his unhappiness. Their battle continues until Walter dares Danny into the dumb waiter, and then proceeds to send him down into the dark and scary basement. Danny braves it as best he can, and while down there, finds an old board game that looks interesting.

How a board game from the 1950s can be even marginally interesting to kids in the day of video games is beyond me, but Danny is fascinated with it, and so the story moves forward. He brings the space adventure game back upstairs and tries to get Walter to play it with him. Danny starts the game sending the little metal spaceship around its track and then a card pops out. Danny can't read the card so he gets Walter to do it for him. Walter reluctantly reads the card. It says: meteor showers, take evasive action. The moment Walter finishes reading the card, there's a ping, and a burning hole in the floor. Finally, Danny has his older brother's full attention as they dash about the living room, avoiding getting hit by meteors.

Now the game is in full swing and it's very exciting from this point on. What I really enjoyed was that the brothers had finally stopped fighting, or at least they tone it down. The brothers figure out pretty quickly that in order to get away from one disaster, they must play the game. Things go from bad to worse, dramatically, and it's Danny who must conquer his fears in order to save them both. Walter must learn to appreciate his brother in a twist that's very nice, involving an astronaut (Dax Shepard) who knocks on the door of their house as it hurtles through space.

Kristen Steward (Panic Room) plays Lisa, the boys' totally self-absorbed teenage sister. This movie is probably a hoot for young kids, but as an adult, I kept wondering why their cryonically frozen sister didn't break, as the brothers dragged her up the stairs. Zathura is an exciting kid's movie with a good message, so I would recommend it to parents.
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