The Flick Chicks

Judy Thorburn's Movie Reviews

Zathura

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Judy Thorburn

Zathura

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Flick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha Chemplavil

“ZATHURA” – A SPACE ADVENTURE THAT’S CHILD’S PLAY

Zathura has some similarities with Jumanji, the 1995 flick that starred Robin Williams. I wouldn’t call it a sequel, but Zathura stands as a fitting follow up or companion piece. Both films are based on novels by the same children’s author, Chris Van Allsbury. And both have storylines that revolve around an unusual game board that comes to life sending the players on a perilous adventure that ends only after they finish the game.

The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha Chemplavil, Zathura, Jonah Bobo, Josh Hutcherson, Dax Sheppard, Kristen Stewart, Tim Robbins, Frank Oz, Jon Favreau

Jumanji had jungle animals running amok in a house, tearing it apart. In Zathura, a house is ripped from its foundation, thrusting the young players who live inside on a dangerous adventure in outer space where they encounter nasty lizard like aliens called Zorgons, a robot (voiced by Frank Oz) in need of re-programming, asteroids and a mysterious, but helpful, stranded astronaut (Dax Shepard of TV’s Punk’d) before returning home.

Much more than a fantasy journey for people of all ages, I like that the film speaks to young children on their level with a positive, relevant message about the value and need of family bonds. You can credit two very good young actors, Josh Hutcherson, (who looks, remarkably, like a child version of Ben Affleck) and Jonah Boho as the older and younger brothers, for getting the point across with their honest, believable chemistry and engaging performances.

The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha Chemplavil, Zathura, Jonah Bobo, Josh Hutcherson, Dax Sheppard, Kristen Stewart, Tim Robbins, Frank Oz, Jon Favreau

From the onset we are witness to what appears to be an ongoing dispute between ten-year-old Walter (Hutcherson), and his almost 7-year-old (who says he is 6 and ¾) brother Danny (Boho). Danny feels he can never compete with Walter who always beats him at everything and treats him mean. When car designer Dad (Tim Robbins) unexpectedly has to leave for his office, the boys are forced to endure time together in the big house under the (not so) watchful eye of teenage sister Lisa (Kristen Stewart) who is asleep upstairs, with headphones on, and at first oblivious to events that are about to be set in motion.

During one of Walter’s cruel moments, he lowers Danny down the dumbwaiter to the basement. That’s where Danny comes across an old metal game board, called Zathura, a Space Adventure. Being curious, he convinces Walter to play the game with him. But, as soon as Danny winds the key and presses the button to which a card pops out, weird things begin to happen. After reading the card, which warns about a meteor shower and says to take evasive action, the boys are left finding a safe place to hide as a meteor rips a hole in the ceiling, landing in the living room floor. Soon, the boys open the front door, only to realize from their up close and personal view of nearby planets, stars and showering meteors, that their entire house has been uprooted and transported light-years away from earth setting the stage for an obstacle driven intergalactic space adventure that would cause the brothers to discover how much they mean to each other. However, a chance for the self absorbed sister to learn a moral lesson is missed. For most of the film she is spent in a cryogenic state of suspended animation looking like a mannequin as a result of a game play move.

The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha Chemplavil, Zathura, Jonah Bobo, Josh Hutcherson, Dax Sheppard, Kristen Stewart, Tim Robbins, Frank Oz, Jon Favreau

Jon Favreau, who is also an actor (Swingers, Deep Impact) first made a mark in the industry as an indie director and writer (Swingers, Made), but moved into the mainstream big time directing Elf, 2003’s surprise comedy hit. He continues in the family entertainment genre with Zathura, his third feature, and one that should appeal to every one, although targeted for children.

The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha Chemplavil, Zathura, Jonah Bobo, Josh Hutcherson, Dax Sheppard, Kristen Stewart, Tim Robbins, Frank Oz, Jon Favreau

Favreau, taking a cue from Spielberg, made a film that is character driven, and avoided the overuse of CGI effects. Instead he chose to go with the traditional use of models and scale size structures for many of the scenes.  That and the creative set design (Michael Riva, The Color Purple) blended with stunning visual effects (by FX wiz Stan Winston) create a more realistic touch to the sci fi fantasy tale.

The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha Chemplavil, Zathura, Jonah Bobo, Josh Hutcherson, Dax Sheppard, Kristen Stewart, Tim Robbins, Frank Oz, Jon Favreau

All in all, Zathura is a fun little movie with action, excitement and some humor that kids will enjoy. Plus it offers them a lesson; something they could think about next time some sibling rivalry pops up.

For adults Zathura is a fantasy that allows ours childlike imagination to take flight. I guess it would be apropos to say the film is a space adventure of the Favreau-ite kind.