Review: Zathura

Mostly known as “Space Jumanji”, I ignored this film with the belief that it would be inferior, silly and full of ghastly CGI. But how wrong could I be??

Walter and Danny are two young brothers staying with their father after their parents divorced and while there they find an old board game. Upon playing the game, the boys find themselves thrown into outer space and must stop fighting between themselves to survive the wondrous adventure.

Okay, do you want to hear my initial reactions to the film?
“Hm, Jumanji in Space? Not convinced.”
“Directed by Jon Favreau?? Now I am interested!”
“Starring Kristen Stewart…?”

Now I have to address this. Amazingly, this is Kristen Stewart’s best movie. It is. Seriously. I almost don’t want to give anything away, but it’s hilarious what they do with this insufferable, obnoxious airhead of a character. If you are like me and don’t like Stewart, watch this, I guarantee you will thank me for it.
Zathura is a simple enough premise: it is Jumanji in space, and while some of the designs are simplistic (the board game and creatures are both styled as very 1960s sci-fi anyway) the practical effects got me. I love practical effects, and the late Stan Winston himself worked on the film, so the aliens and robots looked far more amazing than I was expecting. The film was made in 2005, the same year Lucas released Revenge of the Sith, there could have been all sorts of horrific CGI nastiness, but not here!

Sure the two boys take a little time to get used to, the first fifteen minutes feels a little long since… you know… we are expecting them to go into space! But they aren’t overly frustrating or too badly written, they are at an acceptable level. I’m sure most boys of similar ages (eight through ten) could relate somewhat. I think Tim Robbin’s bit part as their Dad (credited as) goes a long way to keep adult audiences watching. Plus, its Jon Faveau, the director of Iron Man, he knows how to make characters entertaining!

The film itself is relatively harmless and would be good fun for all the family, I think this is something of a buried gem in this regard and should get more appreciation! (whispers: in some respects it could be better than Jumanji… but I’ll need to watch that again to be sure…)

If it is ever on TV, or you want something light and silly, give it a try.

Additional Marshmallows: Don’t worry, my appreciation of Kristen Stewart in this film is purely driven by the venom I have for her as an… “actress”. I find this part of the film hilarious not because she’s any good, but because I took it as poking fun at her!

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