“Zathura: A Space Adventure”

A WALK DOWN NOSTALGIA LANE REVIEW: “Zathura” stars Josh Hutcherson (The Hunger Games, Red Dawn [2012]), Jonah Bobo (Crazy Stupid Love, Choke), Kristen Stewart (Snow White and the Huntsman, American Ultra), Dax Shepard (Hit and Run, CHIPS [2017]), and Tim Robbins (The Shawshank Redemption, Mystic River). It is directed by Jon Favreau (Iron Man, Elf), with the screenplay being written by David Koepp (Jurassic Park, Mission: Impossible [1996]) and John Kamps (Premium Rush, Ghost Town).

Two boys must find their play their way back home when an old board game suddenly transports them to outer space.

“How about we take Jumanji, and put it in space!” Honestly? Not a bad idea.

Jon Favreau knows how to pick a project. A space adventure where two boys try to survive the perils brought on by a relic board game leaves much to the imagination, and as a kid I found myself enthralled by it. This was in the early days of Josh Hutcherson, where the guy was essentially the go-to boy for any big family movie (“Bridge to Terabithia,” “RV,” “Kicking and Screaming,” “The Polar Express” to name a few). Where Kristin Stewart didn’t attain her vampire fame yet (I seriously didn’t realize she was in this), and Dax Shepard was cool (he’s still cool, just in the podcast realm). This is one of those adventures that will make anyone familiar with it smile when mentioned, and after revisiting it, I’ve found that it serves as a time capsule of sorts.

Taking place all inside a house (that gets torn apart as the plot unfolds), this is a contained story with a ton of visuals. The situations prompted by the board game these boys play range from mystifying to terrifying (depending on the age of the viewer); it’s the appeal that “Jumanji” has, where a cursed board game manipulates a space. There’s no logic here. I mean, the house has its own gravity field after all. But that doesn’t matter. This is a fun tale for all ages with plenty to chew on. Robots, giant lizards, and astronauts; what could be better?

This could have easily been a lousy imitation. However, Favreau makes the journey worth it by upping the spectacle and personalizing the message. As I’ve said, there’s a lot of visual effects. Some have become a bit outdated, but there were a few shots that surprised me (the house floating in space still holds up). It was great to see that practicals were used whenever they could, as both the robot and giant lizard people seemed to be actually on the set (save for some full-body shots that required heavy action). All the set pieces were evenly paced out, as there wasn’t really a dull moment in the story. Especially whenever we dive into the deeper parts that regard our leads. The message of brotherhood and what it means to love your brother (no matter how much they annoy you) is heartwarming; one that I personally resonated with given my childhood with my own brother (who I bossed around, being the oldest).

There’s plenty of garbage out there to feed kids. What works with “Zathura” is that it is a well-rounded story that services both the children and adults. There are elements that prove to be silly (like how the boys will argue over minute things repeatedly when they are in freaking outer space), and some of the performances can waver (namely that of Jonah Bobo, whose eyes were kind of lifeless), but there is plenty to appreciate that make up for these cons. I love the 50s/60s aesthetic of the obstacles, and the theme is strong. What I admire as well is just how contained it all is. To craft a sprawling story within one location is a feat that I only hope to accomplish one day, and the use of this house makes for quality entertainment (nothing like destroying the house as a means of fun for a kid). Also, that plot twist regarding the astronaut? Though it can be fairly predictable now, it was mind blowing when I was younger.

“Zathura” is a fun space adventure for the whole family to enjoy. Sure, it’s “Jumanji” repackaged (from the same author too, so I guess it’s a companion piece?), but that doesn’t stop it from giving the audience a blast. If you’re looking for something cool to watch (for either yourself or your kid), check this classic out. FINAL SCORE: 85%= Juicy Popcorn

Here is the trailer:

One response to ““Zathura: A Space Adventure”

  1. Pingback: March Movie Rankings | Juicy Reviews·

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