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Genre: Soundtracks & Scores
Media Format: Compact Disk
Release Date: 22-NOV-2005
Would you take a child in kindergarten to see this?
Jason A. Miller | New York, New York USA | 11/14/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I took my 5 1/2 year-old nephew, a kindergartener, to see "Zathura". I expected Michael, as someone who's been exposed to a steady diet of Ninja Turtles, Power Rangers, and Spider-Man, as well as to Peanuts, the Wiggles and the Muppets, to enjoy the sci-fi elements. Predictably, he spent the second half of the film cowering in his seat, latched onto both of my arms... and he walked out of the theater at the end loving every minute of it, completely jazzed about the experience. We spent most of the 10-minute walk back talking about outer space, aliens, and how it was all fiction, and he drew a lot of pictures of aliens (most of whom looked like Muppets) once he got home.
As others here have said, the language used by the two boys in the movie (10 and 7) is a little disconcerting. However, they use the same words I was exposed to at that age, and comparable to the language Michael is exposed to at home. Michael didn't walk out of the theater cursing, so that part of the movie did not bother me.
The scare factor is somewhat intense. The predictable monsters don't show up until the final two reels and aren't what I'd call terrifying, although that's the part of the movie that had Michael cowering. There's also a big clunky '50s-style robot, but when you find out who provides the voice you'll realize that this wasn't meant to be terrifying -- not if anything to say about it Jon Favreau had. The images of the house floating through space, alongside asteroids and suns, is what will really stand out for the younger viewer.
This is basically a kids' movie directed by Jon Favreau, so naturally it's going to seem odd. Based on the uncomfortably short shorts worn by the teenage girl in the movie (and she has nothing else to do at all), I'd say the target audience is boys 9 to 12. There's also a surprisingly deep plot twist involving another game player that the boys meet as their house drifts through space. I had trouble explaining that to my nephew, although his grandmother didn't understand it either.
My final verdict is that it's safe to take a smaller child (6-ish) to this movie, and they will not take anything negative away from the experience. It's no loss if you make them wait another three years before seeing it, though."
Ashley Quinn | IL United States | 11/12/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Yes, it does have the same basic premise as Jumanji (both books were written by the same guy, after all!)-- board game wreaks havoc on innocent children who happen to have a few problems other than an insane board game. But Zathura is about 100 times better. First of all, the characters aren't overshadowed by 1) huge special effects and 2)big name actors who take over the movie. This is a movie with heart, and a great way to start the holiday season, I might add. Remember how surprisingly good the fun, holiday movie Elf was? This is like that, and both are directed by Jon Favreau. This film does a marvelous job of making an implausible situation seem plausible, while giving the characters some realness.
Two young boys, Walter (age 10) and Danny (age 6) are constantly fighting. Danny just wants someone to play with. Walter could care less. Their father (played by Tim Robbins) is newly divorced, which only adds to this family's stress. There's also an older sister, Lisa, who sleeps until 2 pm and doesn't care about anyone but herself. When Danny finds a mysterious game in the basement called Zathura, he begs Walter to play. Walter doesn't feel like it, so Danny begins to play anyway. On his first spin, the game spits out a card that reads, "Meteor Shower. Take evasive action." Danny can't really read, and it's not until their living room is being pelleted with meteors that the boys take evasive action. Danny runs in circles screaming. Eventually, when the house if floating in the middle of space, they rescue a stranded astronaut (played wonderfully by Dax Shephard!), who reveals that he also once played the game and that's why he's a stranded astronaut. There's actually a twist in this movie about the astronaut, which I totally didn't see coming. I had to explain it to my little cousins because they didn't really get it, but they still thought it was cool.
In the words of a three year old movie critic prodigy, this movie is "really really cool, kinda scary, but really cool." She even said it was better than Jumanji! And if you can't take my word for it, take hers. This is a very sweet movie that explores not only the far reaches of space, but the relationship that siblings have with one another. Very good and PERFECT for kids (except a couple swear words, nothing to really worry about though), I HIGHLY HIGHLY RECOMMEND this movie!!"
A lot of fun and pleasing on the eye
Larry VanDeSande | Mason, Michigan United States | 03/31/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"A highly entertaining family film about the inadvertant adventure of two boys and their teenage sister, "Zathura" is a space game the bumbling brothers find one day while stationed at dad's house (the parents are divorced and dad gets parenting time in this flick.) After about 15 minutes setting the scene of the brothers intermittently fighting, cutting down each other, failing to get along, and being bored at dad's house, dad goes to the store, the younger borther finds the game and, wow, does the movie go into outer space.
The game requires each player to turn a knob which tells them where to move, after which their spaceship correspondingly advances on the board, and a card pops up with a message. Essentially, whatever comes up on a popup card in the game happens to the boys in real life. Right away, their dad's house is hoisted to the universe where they are variously attacked by spacecraft, hone in on and rescue a lost astronaut, try to survive a deranged robot, fail to be fried by passage too close to somebody's sun, and a half-dozen other calamaities. Oh yeah, their sister becomes cryonic during one of these gambits and spends time as a frozen statue. That astronaut turns out to be somebody pretty special, too.
Jon Favreau's direction, the outer space staging, and the set designs are all sumptuous in this highly-evolved film that is basically for kids...but my wife and I laughed throughout and stayed involved all the way to the end. There's a moral to this tale, of course, that is predictably homespun. Tim Robbins plays the dad in the opening and closing scenes; he must have been filming elsewhere when he made this flick.
One unanticipated devlopment from this game, er, movie -- the score reminded me so much of Gustav Holst's "The Planets" that I soon bought a newer version of that music. Don't know if that one's any good; I'll grade it here later. This movie is definitely a winner for anyone that is or once was a child and has (or had) an imagination. Even if you don't have it anymore, you'll remember what it was like having one watching this flick."
How the heck did this one slide in and out of the theaters?
Dr. van der Linden | Williamstown, NJ | 03/10/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"On no basis other than the fact it turned up on my Amazon.com "Recommendations" screen when I was noodling around for another reason, I put this movie in my shopping cart and included it in my next order.
When the grandchildren (a sophisticated 6-year-old debutante, her hyperactive 5-year-old brother, and the perpetually teething 10-month-old) yelled for a movie last night, I plunked it in the DVD player and told them "This is too scarey for little kids. You're not allowed to watch it."
The next hundred minutes was spent with the first-grader peeping over my shoulder (while hiding under a blanket), the pre-schooler alternately bobbing up in front and ducking down behind the arm of the sofa, and the baby gazing at the screen in wonder, the whole crew as much involved in the snarling and sniping of the brothers as in the hissing, clanking menace of the Zorgons.
Today I'm finding sketches of defective robots all over the living room, and the older kids are conspiring to lock their 14-year-old cousin in the bathroom to see whether or not she can be put into cryonic sleep for five turns.
This one is definitely a keeper.
Get Off Jumanji And Get On-Board With Zathura
B. Merritt | WWW.FILMREVIEWSTEW.COM, Pacific Grove, California | 02/16/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Open up your imagination to the world of Zathura. Kids and adults alike will revel in this great story about two young brothers who find an old board-style game called Zathura that literally launches them and their home into outer-space. Danny and Walter are the brothers and when their father leaves them alone with their teenage sister for a few minutes, worlds collide and their home becomes a space-bound asteroid, but not because of any interstellar cataclysm. It's all related to the game Zathura that the younger Danny finds and begins playing.
Their father's beautiful arts and crafts style home is magically transported to the nether reaches of space and as the boys play the game - in an attempt to get back to Earth - more and more bizarre occurrences happen. A meteor shower pummels the house. A defective robot tries to kill the elder brother, Walter. Zorgons, weird, space-faring lizard-men, track their home because of the warmth radiating off it. A stranded spaceman joins the duo and has much more vested in the game than we could ever imagine. Walter and Danny's sister goes into cryogenic sleep for "five turns" only to awaken in the midst of this spaceflight odyssey.
Can the boys make it home? Will they be able to finish the game? Can they put aside their sibling rivalries and become loving brothers? Why is the stranded astronaut helping them? What will Dad say when he gets home and finds out there is no home? _______________________________________________________________________________________
There's been a lot of controversial talk amongst film-o-philes about this movie and JUMANJI. There's no doubt that there's an incredibly strong similarity between the two (a house being overrun by animals versus space creatures; a family in crisis that's forced to come together; a board game that recreates a fantasy; a happy ending that gets fixed-up before adults arrive back in the picture; and so on).
Regardless of those striking comparisons, Zathura is a really fun film to watch. The two brothers are believable, and when they fight it reminded me of the great arguments I had with my brothers when I was growing up.
The amazingly beautiful arts and crafts home. It was painful watching it get destroyed piece by piece. Sitting on a gimbal, too, it was surprising (watching the special features on the DVD) to learn that director Jon Favreau used minimal digital special effects and built miniatures, etc. in order to get the desired effects for the film.
The ridiculous nature of the story allowed me to suspend disbelief and just go with it. We all know that fire doesn't burn in outer-space (they light a sofa on fire and kick it out the door), and that a person could never survive fifteen years floating around in space in a spacesuit (the astronaut), but so what.
I was also a tad surprised about the astronaut. I'd surmised quite a bit about the movie as it continued (being able to guess pretty easily what was going to happen next and why) but when the true nature of the stranded astronaut came to light, I felt a bit choked-up (yeah, yeah, I know).
So sit back and enjoy the film, and try not to get overly critical about its obvious relation to JUMANJI."