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Zathura (PG)

Release Date: November 11th, 2005 by Columbia Pictures.
The Cast: Jonah Bobo, Josh Hutcherson, Dax Shepard, Kristen Stewart, Tim Robbins, Frank Oz (voice).
Directed by Jon Favreau.

BASIC PREMISE: After Zathura, a board game, sends their house into outer-space, three siblings, Danny (Bobo), Walter (Hutcherson), and Lisa (Stewart) must go through the game’s adventures to go back to Earth.

ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: Zathura truly excels when it comes to special effects and thrills. When Danny, Walter, and Lisa are on Earth during the first ten minutes, not much happens to hold your attention. Their busy father (Robbins) leaves them home alone. Once Danny and Walter start playing Zathura, the plot suddenly kicks into gear with a meteor shower. Just when they though that the TV survived the shower, a large meteor crashes right on top of it. Meanwhile, Lisa spends time alone in the bathroom preparing for a date—she doesn’t even hear the meteor shower. Oh, how oblivious teenagers are these days! Even when the house shoots into out-space, she still remains calm while blow-drying her hair—quite comedic material. She disappears quickly from the plot when the board game sends a deep-freezing gas into the bathroom. The rest of the plot includes Danny and Walter take turn reading the cards on the board-game while going through specific obstacles, such as a giant killing robot (voiced by Frank Oz) and Zorgons, lizard-like vicious aliens. The highlight is a quirky astronaut (Shepard) who helps Danny and Walter—and consumes most their food as well. An interesting twist in the third-act explains a lot about his role in the plot. Unfortunately, when Danny and Walter argue with on another—which is pretty often— Zathura becomes less engaging. Their dialogue is often stilted and silly. The excellent visual and sound effects along with the editing helps to minimize any frightening moments, although some rather intense for little kids. Although you don’t end up caring about any of the young kids, it’s undeniably and consistently fun to watch them go through their many thrilling adventures.

SPIRITUAL VALUE: An interesting twist in the third act teaches Danny and Walter a valuable, heartwarming lesson about their relationship as brothers. Walter makes two wishes during the game, but one of the wishes shows how he has changed into a generous, considerate person. Hopefully, Danny and Walter will apply the lessons they’ve learned back on Earth.

INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: None, as long as you can suspend your disbelief.


THE BOTTOM LINE: A very entertaining ride filled with amazing special effects! There’s enough wild imagination and thrills to keep you awake whether you’re young or old—especially if you’re a fan of Jumanji .

RECOMMENDED WAY TO WATCH: Movie Theater (1st Run)

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