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Feb 14, 2006

MPAA Rating:



Jonah Bobo

Josh Hutcherson

Kristen Stewart

Tim Robbins


2005 Sony Pictures

Still shot from the movie: Zathura.

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Reviewed by

Overall B+
Run Time

Making the Grades

Video games might lose their appeal if toy makers could find a way to make all board games as interactive as Zathura. The antique, metal playing surface, outfitted with a windup key and tiny rocket ships, sends the players literally shooting into space.

Unfortunately, Danny (Jonah Bobo) has no idea what the consequences will be when he finds the game hidden beneath the stairs in the family's basement.

He and his older brother Walter (Josh Hutcherson) have been left in the care of their distracted, teenaged sister Lisa (Kristen Stewart), while dad (Tim Robbins) makes a quick dash to the office. Walter, a world-weary 10-year-old, jaded by the demands of fourth grade and the responsibilities of a girlfriend, isn't interested in participating. He'd rather catch up on the sports highlights than play with the younger 6-year-old, especially since Danny has a reputation for cheating.

But when the first card pops out of the game board dispenser, warning the constantly bickering boys of an impending meteorite shower, the brothers know this isn't going to be your average Monopoly game.

Flung into the far reaches of the universe, the siblings have to navigate their way home by taking turns spinning the controls. While hurtling back through the cosmos, they must side step a gravitational field, withstand an attack by heat-seeking Zorgons and gain an appreciation for one another. Luckily they get some help from a stranded astronaut (Dax Shepard) they find drifting through outer space.

The explosive onslaught from the Zorgons makes for some prolonged, intense moments of peril that may leave younger space travelers squirming in their seats. The script includes other scenes of suspense when a defective robot tries to annihilate the boys and meat-eating aliens clamber into the house looking for dinner--meaning anything human. It also results in an auditory assault on the eardrums.

Parents may have concerns with the kids' rampant name calling, including the use of some sexual slang. Warning children about the real hazards of soaking the couch in lighter fluid or using a blow torch may also be important for impressionable youngsters.

Yet while the film bogs down in a time warp during part of the journey, the director manages to pick up the pace by the end of the film giving Danny, Walter and many audience members a romping, galactic adventure.

Discussion Ideas After The Movie

Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Zathura.

What is Danny afraid of in his dad’s old house? How does he overcome that fear?

How does the relationship between Danny and Walter change during their adventures? Why is it sometimes difficult for siblings to get along? What things do you appreciate about your brothers or sisters?

The astronaut warns Walter about acting on ideas when he is angry. Why is it easier to make rash or foolish decisions when you are upset? What did the astronaut learn about making impulsive wishes?

Canadian Movie Ratings

PG May frighten young children.
AB PG May frighten young children.
MB PG Frightening Scenes.
ON PG Frightening Scenes, Not Recommended for young children.
QC G Not recommend fro young children.

Canadian Home Video Rating: PG

Watch @ Home

Details on home video releases of Zathura...

Bring the magical universe of Zathura right into your family room with this DVD release from Sony Home Entertainment. Reach into the far corners of the film maker’s vision with a commentary by director Jon Favreau and producer Peter Billingsley, take a peek into the world of Chris van Allsburg, the author who’s story inspired the movie, and learn all about the cast. Understand the microcosmic elements by watching making-of featurettes for the film and game, as well as documentaries about the visual effects (including Zorgons, Robots and ‘Frozen Lisa’) and miniatures used to create the world of Zathura. The audio track is available in English (Dolby Digital 5.1), with subtitles in English and Spanish.

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