ByD.M. Anderson, writer at Creators.co
Writer, reviewer, loves life in the dark. freekittensmovieguide.blogspot.com
D.M. Anderson

JUMANJI - Starring Robin Williams, Kirsten Dunst, David Alan Grier, Bonnie Hunt, Jonathan Hyde, Bebe Neuwirth. Directed by Joe Johnston. (1995, 104 min).

ZATHURA - Starring Josh Hutcherson, Jonah Bobo, Dax Shepard, Kristen Stewart, Tim Robbins. Directed by Jon Favreau. (2005, 101 min)

Jumanji and Zathura have both been available Blu-Ray for several years, as well as bundled together in various combo packs. However, these anniversary editions include some new bonus features along with a few holdovers from previous releases. Regarding the films themselves, the transfers are pretty much the same, so if you already own either film on Blu-Ray, whether or not it's worth the cost to upgrade your collection obviously depends on your level of worship.

Now 20 years old, Jumanji hasn't aged well from a technical standpoint. The CGI-rendered, post-Jurassic Park special effects were dubious back in 1995. Today, they look downright cartoonish. Still, the story is interesting enough that my jaded 11-year-old daughter found it marvelously entertaining. As for me, revisiting the film two decades later had me enjoying David Alan Grier's amusing supporting role as a hapless cop more than Robin Williams' relatively straightforward and earnest performance (his manic comic gifts are largely underutilized here).

Though Zathura is presented as a stand-alone film, the book it's based on was a direct sequel to Jumanji, both written and illustrated by Chris Van Allsburg. While all references to Jumanji are absent, most fans still regard it as a spiritual sequel. Despite being a box office bomb at the time, Zathura is the better or the two movies in every aspect. It tells essentially the same story (board game, strange happenings, absent parents, etc), but with more realistic child characters and far-better visual effects (most of which are practical, not CGI). Now that Zathura is ten years old, it's also interesting to note those involved in the film who've since gone on to bigger things, such as Josh Hutcherson, Kirsten Stewart and director Jon Favreau (Iron Man).

There's likely a lot of nostalgic love for both of these films, and if you don't already have them on disc, they are definitely worth buying, especially with kids in the house. Both are charming enough that even the most jaded child should still find them amusing (kind of like The Wizard of Oz when you were younger). Die hard fans who already have them on their shelves may want to consider whether or not the new bonus features are worth the upgrade.

EXTRAS:

JUMANJI:

  • Jumanji Jungle Adventure Virtual Board Game
  • Special Effects Crew Commentary
  • Behind-the-Scenes Featurettes
  • Storyboard Comparisons
  • Jumanji Motion Storybooks as Read by Chris Van Allsburg
  • Two Episodes of "Jumanji: The Animated Series"
  • Theatrical Trailers
  • "From the Cast of Goosebumps" (this is a promotional video which has young cast members of Sony's upcoming Goosebumps movie make dubious comparisons to Jumanji)
  • An Extended Trailer for Goosebumps

ZATHURA:

  • Commentary by Director Jon Favreau and co-producer Peter Billingsley (you know, Ralphie from A Christmas Story)
  • Behind-the-Scenes Featurettes
  • Zathura Motion Storybooks as Read by Chris Van Allsburg
  • "From the Cast of Goosebumps" (this is a promotional video which has young cast members of Sony's upcoming Goosebumps movie make dubious comparisons to Zathura)
  • An Extended Trailer for Goosebumps

from FREE KITTENS MOVIE GUIDE

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