Review: Zathura

Posted by: Dean Kish  //  November 11, 2005 @ 11:59am

Filed under: Reviews

Ten years ago, a little family film called Jumanji, based on a hit children's book, was released and made us all love board games again. Robin Williams in an action adventure for kids " what a concept " and it was a box office goldmine.

With its huge success, the people behind Jumanji had wanted to make a sequel. Instead they came up with the idea for an animated television series based on the film. The series was launched in 1996 and it was a hit for three years. Now, Jumanji-mania seems to have returned as the launch of Zathura is upon us.

Zathura isn't a sequel to Jumanji but based on another book from the same author of "Jumanji", Chris Van Allsburg, with a very similar premise. The premise, in case you forgot, is that these kids find this old cursed board game that, when played, the events that transpire in the game come to life. In Jumanji, it was a jungle theme, and in Zathura, it's an outer space theme.

Zathura is quite a fun little movie when the kids aren't screaming and the overly-long opening setup has concluded. The performances from all the kids, including Panic Room's Kristen Stewart, are excellent.

I also liked the performance from Dax Shepherd as the stranded astronaut. I just thought he should have been zanier.

The visual effects and the piece-by-piece destruction of the house are the hi-lights of the film. Everything about it was just so much fun.

I felt the brother squabbling and really trying beginning to the film held back the impact. I also would really have liked to see more of Kristen Stewart in the film. It would have been great to see more of her mixing it up in the adventure side of the film.

I really like Jon Favreau as a director, but he needs to find a balance in his projects. In this project, Favreau excelled in the effects scenes but left the personal scenes overly dull. In Made, he focused more on belittling his main guys than scoring laughs. The guy has a great eye, but needs to balance his focuses like he did for the majority of Elf.

As a kids' film, Zathura excels and will make all the kids scream to be space adventurers. I just really think the film needed more humor and less melodrama. (3.5 out of 5).

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