Zathura is an adventure along the same lines as Jumanji (kids find themselves trapped in a game come to life), which is hardly surprising as they both have the same author, Chris Van Allsburg (who also wrote the book on which The Polar Express was based). Luckily, it’s less of a mess than Jumanji, and is a thoroughly imaginative and entertaining adventure for kids and grown-ups.
Left in the house with their sleeping teenage sister (a pre-Twilight Kristen Stewart) by dad (Tim Robbins), siblings Danny (Bobo) and Walter (Hutcherson) come to blows when the younger Danny keeps getting on his big brother’s nerves. But they’ll have to find a way to get along together sharpish, as Danny has just discovered a game called Zathura hidden under the basement stairs, and when he starts to play, their house rips away from its suburban street and starts hurtling through the galaxy.
It seems the boys have become part of the game, and have to play to the end – together – if they are going to get home. And that means dodging meteor showers, strange aliens and an out-of-control robot, and encountering a mysterious astronaut who may be able to save them all if they can just stop bickering.
Far more character-driven than Jumanji (which just seemed like a series of special effects strung together), this features excellent performances from the kids and Dax Shepard as the astronaut. It’s fun stuff (although a little long, perhaps, at almost two hours), with a few moments that look as if they could scare younger viewers, but will probably thrill them instead.
Is Zathura: A Space Adventure suitable for kids? Here are our parents’ notes...
There are some tense situations while the boys are on their adventure, but nothing too scary for the over-eights.