Two squabbling brothers are propelled into deepest, darkest
space while playing a mysterious game they discover in the
basement of their old house. On their fantastic journey, they
are joined by a stranded astronaut and must survive meteor
showers, hostile lizard-like aliens, a rocket-propelled robot
run amok and an intergalactic spaceship battle. Unless they
finish the game and reach the planet Zathura, they could be
trapped in outer space forever...
the above synopsis sound familiar? Jumanji in space
anyone? Well, to be honest that's exactly what this movie
is. Zathura is inspired by the illustrated book by
Chris Van Allsburg (who also wrote Jumanji and The
Polar Express). And, as much as I enjoyed this film (in
a family entertainment sort of way) I still couldn't help
but be surprised at the cheek of Van Allsburg in basically
representing Jumanji but with the characters and situations
changed... just a little bit.
similar? Well, firstly both movies revolve around a mysterious
board game. Then there's the fact that after every time a
move is made something from the game comes alive in the real
world; the house that the gamers are in is slowly destroyed
as the game progresses; someone that once played the game
years ago, and got stuck inside it, comes out of the game
to help them... do you need any more proof?
you loved Jumanji, then you'll enjoy this film too.
are plenty of little subtle jokes like when an urn on the
mantelpiece smashes Danny shouts: "Grandma" and
when Walter turns the TV over so that his brother can't watch
Spongebob Squarepants, Danny mutters "Tarter sauce"
- a mock swear word on Spongebob.
film also pays homage to several movies, but by far the most
obvious is the scene where Danny opens the front door to reveal
that they are in outer space. This shot is almost identical
to the scene in Close Encounters of the Third Kind where
the young boy opens his front door to welcome the aliens.
Debney's music also lifts elements from other sci-fi movies.
There's a hint of both James Horner's Star Trek scores,
as well as John Williams's Star Wars music.
child actors are pretty impressive - especially Josh Hutcherson
as Walter. And it was interesting to learn that Frank Oz performed
the voice of the Robot.
are loads of extras: audio commentary with Jon Favreau (director)
and Peter Billingsley (co-producer); Race to the Black
Planet (10 mins featurette that looks behind the scenes
- especially at the director's desire to use more practical
effects and stay away from CGI); The Right Moves (15
minute behind the scenes featurette that is a continuation
of the first featurette); The Cast (13 minute featurette
that looks at the main actors); Miniatures (9 minute
featurette looking at Stan Winston's models and puppets);
The World of Chris Van Allsburg (13 interview with
the author of the original illustrated book); Zorgons,
Robots and Frozen Lisa (17 minute featurette that looks
at how they designed three key elements of the movie); Making
the Game (14 minute look at how the actual board game
was designed); and trailers for other DVD releases. There's
also a very short Easter Egg, which is incredibly easy to
of the extras are worth watching, although the interview with
Van Allsburg was amazingly frank. He was quite honest about
how his books only really inspire the film makers as they
are so low on content and the screen writers flesh out his
tales. The Zorgons, Robots and Frozen Lisa featurette
was also quite interesting as we get to see how all three
of these effects were achieved.
the end of the day, this is a good family movie that has something
to offer for everyone. Well worth giving over an evening to.