Most of us remember the 1995 classic film Jumanji starring Robin Williams about an enchanted board game that brings things into the real world. It was a hit and many consider it one of Robin Williams' best movies. In 2005 when Zathura was announced, most thought it sounded like a rip-off so they avoided seeing it but they didn't know that it was based on a book of the same name by the same man who wrote the Jumanji book, this movie was Zathura: A Space Adventure. The posters even said the words "From the world of Jumanji," which shows that the movie was in fact a spin-off in the same universe as Jumanji.
However since many didn't see the movie, it didn't get the love that it deserved because in my opinion it is an underrated gem that does a fantastic job and blending both sci-fi and fantasy in a fun thrill ride. Here is general synopsis:
Two brothers are not getting along due to their parents' recent divorce but when they discover a board game which transports them to another galaxy with their suburban house acting as their starship. Now the two must play through the game and fight off the dangers that spawn from it and reach the mysterious Zathura, whatever it is.
The similarities to Jumanji are there but that doesn't take away from the movie. Jon Favreau is the director of this film and that's already a plus, all of his movies are very colorful and smoothly filmed and that's definitely the case here.
The movie stars Josh Hutcherson in one of his earliest roles as Walter, the older brother and even as a kid he's one talented actor which is essential since 70% of the movie is just the two kids and they both pull off their roles.
Jonah Bobo plays Danny, the younger brother and I gotta say that he should be one of those kids who irritates you but he's very likable and realistic throughout the film and same goes to Walter, these two actually felt like brothers.
However there are other performances in the film such as their older sister named Lisa played by Kristen Stewart. Now revisiting this movie I was expecting the terrible acting she had as Bella Swan and while its nothing Oscar worthy, I won't deny she wasn't bad as Lisa and in a few spots she got me to laugh.
A short role of the father played by Tim Robbins which for a small role was good performance. You really see this father struggling to handle these two kids who are obviously broken from the divorce.
And then there is my favorite character in the movie, Astronaut portrayed by Dax Shepard. Astronaut is a character which is spawned from the game and he is my favorite due to his overall arc and he has a great combination of humor and awesomeness.
With a small cast like this, the character and actors need to be fun to watch. Well this cast definitely works, they all have good chemistry, they all act well, and the characters are all well written. Good job, movie.
Now with a sci-fi adventure like this, you expect to see cool things and you definitely do in this movie. The creatures and hazards that come out of the game are all very great in both concept and execution. From the giant lizards known as Zorgons...
to the awesome and defective robot that wants to kill Walter voiced by Frank Oz.
What works about these hazards so well is that the filmmakers do an excellent mix of both CGI effects (The Robot) and practical effects (Zorgons) and everything that comes out of the game keeps a certain style: the cheesy sci-fi stories of the 1960s with the Robot have a disproportional body, the ships having a cliche rocket design, and the giant lizard people.
All these things combined with a great story, good moral, and a twist that I dare not spoil; I think that Zathura is actually equal with Jumanji in terms of quality. It is a great thrill ride that I highly recommend you check out. I give Zathura: A Space Adventure a 9/10 or a Solid Platinum.