0

Children's book author, Chris Van Allburg's latest book to be adapted for film is Zathura, about a couple of squabbling brothers who find themselves on an unexpected space adventure. It follows on from the recent Tom Hanks vehicle, The Polar Express and 1995's Jumanji with Robin Williams. Like Jumanji, Zathura is also based on a magical board game. Josh Hutcherson and Jonah Bobo are Walter and Danny. They're ten and six years old and they constantly compete for their father's attention. When Dad (Tim Robbins) goes to work, he leaves them in the care of their unapproachable older sister, Lisa (Kristen Stewart), whose strict rule is to never wake her unless the house in burning down. Walter and Danny know it's safer not to disturb their sleeping sister. But it is the weekend and the two lads are extremely bored and at each other throats. Danny tries to get Walter to play with him, but Walter won't have a bar of it. Then Danny finds an old metal board game called ZATHURA in the basement. Within minutes of playing, the house is besieged by meteors and propelled into space. The boys battle with rampant robots, carnivorous lizards and save a stranded astronaut (Dax Shepard). The only way they'll make it back to Earth, is to work together to finish the game. Zathura is light years away from slick digitally enhanced, outer-space films like Thunderbirds. It has its share of CGI, but Director Jon Favreau, prefers a more traditional approach to his visual effects ' there's actors in the lizard suits and the clumsy robot is practically lifted from 50s sci fi flicks. This gives the film has a wonderfully handcrafted quality that really taps into the imagination of a child and adds a lovely sense of nostalgia to the story. This film could almost be the sequel to Jumanji ' as it uses the same trick - a board game that comes to life, but Zathura is far more successful. Jumanji was a fantasy that saw the children who played the board game, face grave danger, when their house was transformed by a jungle of terrifying animals. It was diminished by the annoyingly exuberant performance of Robin Williams. The advantage of this film is that the adventures and experiences of the boys is the focus, while adults take a back seat. Josh Hutcherson and Jonah Bobo are superb as the bickering brothers, perfectly capturing the stuff that plagues families every day. Zathura proves that the wildest adventures can happen, without ever leaving home. It's an intergalactic blast!