More in-depth film festival coverage than any other website!
Home Reviews  Articles  Release Dates Coming Soon  DVD  Top 20s Criticwatch  Search
Public Forums  Festival Coverage  Contests About 

Overall Rating

Awesome: 10.67%
Worth A Look36%
Average: 28%
Pretty Bad: 20%
Total Crap: 5.33%

9 reviews, 21 user ratings

Latest Reviews

Black Christmas (2019) by Peter Sobczynski

Richard Jewell by Peter Sobczynski

Dachra by Jay Seaver

Little Joe (2019) by Jay Seaver

Knives and Skin by Jay Seaver

Rabid (2019) by Rob Gonsalves

Irishman, The by Rob Gonsalves

Recorder: The Marion Stokes Project by Rob Gonsalves

Kitchen, The (2019) by Rob Gonsalves

Whistleblower, The (2019) by Jay Seaver

subscribe to this feed

[] Buy posters from this movie
by EricDSnider

"'Jumanji' in space -- and with no Robin Williams!"
4 stars

A decade after "Jumanji" introduced rhinoceroses to America's living rooms comes "Zathura," also about a board game that becomes real, and also based on a book by Chris Van Allsburg.

Van Allsburg didn't wander far from "Jumanji" when he wrote "Zathura," which has been directed by Jon Favreau (his family-friendly follow-up to 2003's "Elf"). Two squabbling brothers, 10-year-old Walter (Josh Hutcherson) and 6-year-old Danny (Jonah Bobo), are left home under the supervision of their older sister Lisa (Kristen Stewart), a surly, sleeping teenager. The boys find an old board game in the basement and commence playing it. Like its cousin Jumanji, the game of Zathura is literal. It's set in outer space, and before you know it, the boys' house is orbiting Saturn, basement and all. When they draw a card that reads, "You are visited by Zorgons," sure enough, Zorgons come a-knockin'. (Hint: They are not friendly.) The only way to get home -- or, rather, to get their home back to Earth -- is to keep playing.

The game presents a variety of adventurous challenges, all of which are embarked upon from the confines of the boys' echoey old house. (It's not like they can ride their bikes down the street, now that "the street" is an asteroid belt.) A giant killer robot shows up, as do the aforementioned Zorgons, and so does a lost but helpful astronaut (Dax Shepard), who tries to stop the boys from fighting and keep them focused on the task at hand.

The screenplay is by John Kamps ("The Borrowers") and the very reliable David Koepp ("Spider-Man," "Panic Room," "Jurassic Park"), who might be the best action-adventure writer currently working. "Zathura" zips along with speed and confidence, and though I'd never have guessed it, goofy Jon Favreau can direct a pretty exciting action scene.

The dialogue between the brothers perfectly captures the love-hate relationship that often exists between siblings, and there are two or three sly jokes for grownups that will go over the kids' heads.

The theme of children having parent-free adventures has always been a favorite for young viewers. We like to see our parents absent in movies, not because we don't love or need them, but because it's fun to fantasize about how we'd manage without them. (The kids always emerge victorious in such stories, of course, with no adults necessary.) "Zathura" plays into this desire astonishingly well, giving young boys exactly what they want to see: giant robots, an astronaut, dinosaur-looking monsters, and an inattentive babysitter. Ask any 8-year-old and he'll tell you those are four of his favorite things.

link directly to this review at
originally posted: 11/17/05 07:03:07
[printer] printer-friendly format  

User Comments

9/24/14 Anees Shaik Not as great as Jumanji but, pretty good 4 stars
9/26/09 KayKay The second of the two worst movies of 2005 (the first is Son of The Mask) 1 stars
11/25/08 sweetgrrl1972 Too scary for kids, too stupid for adults and a bit with an incestuous crush in the middle 1 stars
9/03/08 Shaun Wallner Interesting Storyline 3 stars
8/13/07 Winger Disappointing. 10 years earlier they made a better movie called Jumanji. Good graphics tho. 3 stars
3/21/07 dude pretty bad 2 stars
3/06/07 Robin Hudspeth My kids loved it. Some very funny and exciting moments. 4 stars
8/24/06 AnnieG If you liked "Jumanji" - watch it again instead of getting this film. 2 stars
6/28/06 joe koski not as good as jumanji 4 stars
2/24/06 ES cool fx but a confusing ending, I had to have it explained to me and it still made no sense 4 stars
2/17/06 tatum It's ten times better than "Jumanji," a real treat 4 stars
12/14/05 Corinne entertaining, a great sequel to the first. Would see again without a doubt 4 stars
12/04/05 Haley F***in' DUH, WiseMan. It's by the same guy. And it's great stuff. :D 5 stars
11/30/05 Robert Quinn very fun film, if you liked jumanji, check it out! 4 stars
11/22/05 WiseMan JUMANJI RIP OFF!!!! 2 cups of salt 5 Cups of chicken and 6 cups of dog shit = Zathura 1 stars
11/21/05 Jeff Anderson A lot better than JUMANJI & a rare family film that's actually a lot of fun. I WAS HOOKED! 5 stars
11/18/05 Robert Braunfeld Great family movie to lose yourself in adventure 4 stars
11/17/05 PAG Not bad. Better than Jumanji. Not as good as Elf. 3 stars
11/13/05 Quigley the movie is as funny as it is visually stunning and clever. not jumanji, but very good 4 stars
Note: Duplicate, 'planted,' or other obviously improper comments
will be deleted at our discretion. So don't bother posting 'em. Thanks!
Your Name:
Your Comments:
Your Location: (state/province/country)
Your Rating:

Discuss this movie in our forum

  11-Nov-2005 (PG)
  DVD: 14-Feb-2006

  03-Feb-2006 (PG)


Directed by
  Jon Favreau

Written by
  David Koepp
  John Kamps

  Tim Robbins
  Josh Hutcherson
  Jonah Bobo
  Dax Shepard
  Kristen Stewart
  Frank Oz

Home Reviews  Articles  Release Dates Coming Soon  DVD  Top 20s Criticwatch  Search
Public Forums  Festival Coverage  Contests About Australia's Largest Movie Review Database.
Privacy Policy | HBS Inc. | |   

All data and site design copyright 1997-2017, HBS Entertainment, Inc.
Search for
reviews features movie title writer/director/cast