DailyView: Day 313, Movie 446
Zathura was a film that I had never heard of, but with the directorial skills of Jon Favreau behind it, I figured it would be an enjoyable film. Then, I read the synopsis and I thought that it sounded a lot like Jumanji. I came to realize why that was. Apparently, this was based on a book by the same author that wrote the original book, Jumanji, Chris Van Allsburg. In fact, this movie was a stand alone spin off of the 1995 Jumanji film.
And when it comes down to it, I enjoyed this way more than I did the original Jumanji film with Robin Williams.
Brothers Walter (Josh Hutcherson) and Danny (Jonah Bobo) were always fighting, with Danny always trying to compete with his older brother Walter. So when Danny discovered a board game called Zathura in the basement and started to play it, strange things began to happen. This included the sudden shock of their house flying through outer space.
Each turn of the game presented a card with a new problem for the space shuttle house: Aliens invading, a malfunctioning robot, a meteor shower.
Their sister Lisa (Kristen Stewart) was in cryogenic animation from the card upstairs in her bathroom when the next card stated to rescue the astronaut (Dax Shepard). The astronaut brought in a new perspective and a helping hand with the dangers of the game.
The brothers had to continue to play the game to try and make their way back home.
The center of the film is the relationship between Walter and Danny. It felt like a realistic relationship that could be real brothers. They argued, fought and said things to hurt the other one because they are not sure what else they could do. Both Hutcherson and Bobo nailed their performances and did so in a way that brought deep emotion between the boys.
The addition of Dax Shepard elevated the material even further and his own backstory was a fantastic inclusion in the story of the boys.
Kristen Stewart and Tim Robbins, who played the boys workaholic dad, have less to do in the story, but they both make the best of their screen time.
The special effects were really cool for 2005 and the aliens here were scary. This movie is a great family film, not just something that kids would enjoy. There is a strong message of brotherly connection and some exciting action. Yes, it is very much like Jumanji, but that can be excused since they are both from the same mind. Plus, this is a better story.