Zathura Review
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Six-year-old Danny (Jonah Bobo) and ten-year-old Walter (Josh Hutcherson) are pretty typical brothers. They’re constantly fighting, and they’re constantly in competition with each other—especially for their dad’s (Tim Robbins) attention. One Saturday afternoon, their dad leaves them in the care of their older sister, Lisa (Kristen Stewart), who shuts herself in her room and climbs into bed with her headphones blaring music to drown out the fighting.

Desperate to get Walter to play with him, Danny finds an old game called Zathura in the basement, and he brings it to the living room, where Walter’s busy watching TV and ignoring his little brother. So Danny starts the game by himself—he turns the key and pushes the big “GO” button. But when a card pops out, he can’t read that it says, “Meteor Shower: Take Evasive Action.” When he asks Walter to read the card for him, the real meteor shower begins. And before the two brothers realize what’s going on, their house is sent into space, and they’re forced to continue the game or risk orbiting Earth for the rest of their lives. Along the way, Lisa ends up frozen in a cryogenic freezing chamber (which was once her bathroom), Walter finds himself running for his life to escape a defective robot, and they rescue a stranded astronaut (Dax Shepard of Punk’d fame), who has to help them fight off heat-seeking, people-eating aliens.

Directed by Jon Favreau and based on the book by Chris Van Allsburg (who also wrote the book on which Jumanji was based), Zathura has the same kids-trapped-in-a-game-that-becomes-real storyline as Jumanji—only with a space theme instead of a jungle theme. So if you’ve seen Jumanji, you pretty much know what’s going to happen. But there’s one big difference: where Jumanji is mostly just funny, Zathura is really pretty scary. Sure, Zathura has its share of jokes, but it also has a murderous robot and a band of hungry lizard-like aliens—so you might want to think twice before letting your younger kids see it (unless you don’t mind waking up to screaming kids in the middle of the night).

Scariness aside, however, Zathura is a wildly imaginative movie starring two talented young actors. There’s plenty of action and adventure—and there are a few interesting twists thrown in along the way. There’s even a moral to the story when it’s all over. Though I thought some of the scenes went on a little longer than they needed to, I enjoyed it. So if you liked Jumanji, be sure to check out this new board game adventure—just watch out for the defective robot.

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