Thursday, January 6, 2011

Movie Review: Zathura

The makers of this movie tried to dissociate it from its prequel, Jumanji, but to no avail. Instead of bringing a dangerous jungle to life, this time the game transports the players into space where they're confronted with astronomical objects, astronauts, aliens, robots, etc. I was skeptical that they could pull off the same basic idea without it being painfully derivative.

However, I think they managed it pretty well. The two main characters, two young brothers, spend a lot of time bickering and pestering each other. The actors who play the brothers both do a pretty good job. Tim Robbins, who plays their father, came across as a dim-witted goofball (but that's no different from his performance in any of the other movies I've seen him in so far).[1] Mercifully, his appearance in the film is brief.[2]

The major plot twist was rather easy to guess, but this didn't bother me since it was a kids' show. The visuals and special effects are a bit cartoonish but again, his is probably more palatable to younger viewers. This may also be due, in part, to the use of traditional special effects rather than CGI.

My verdict: This was an enjoyable movie with a good message. It's hard to know, though, whether children watching this movie would pick up on that when there's so much 'rotten behavior' to mimic. But with appropriate parental guidance, I think it can be a good film for children.


[1] Okay, there's one exception: he was tolerable in the edited version of Mystic River (though I wasn't impressed by the film itself). He's been a dim-witted goofball (intentionally or otherwise) in Howard the Duck, Twister, The Shawshank Redemption, The Hudsucker Proxy, Mission to Mars, War of the Worlds, and City of Ember. A quick perusal of his other films suggests that the pattern probably holds true. See

[2] We're also spared Kristen Stewart, a.k.a. 'Bella Swan', for most of the movie as she's stuck in cryogenic sleep by the game.

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