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Zathura: A Space Adventure (8/10)

by Tony Medley

Eight-year-old Jonah Bobo gets top billing in the closing credits and he deserves it. Playing six-year-old Danny to his older brother (10), Walter (Josh Hutcherson), Danny just doesn’t get any respect. Walter thinks of him as his little brother, and, as a result, as a pain in the neck. Their father (Tim Robbins) is doing his best to bring them up with his separated wife in another home. He has moved them into a creepy old house they don’t like. When Robbins is called away one afternoon, Danny finds a board game, Zathura, in the scary basement. Walter doesn’t want to play it with him, but once Danny starts the game it propels them into a frightening new world in outer space and the only way they can get back home is to continue playing the game until its end.

While that may sound like a children’s movie, and it is, I enjoyed it throughout. Although I’m not a fan of special effects, the ones in this film are terrific and there wouldn’t be a film without them. What’s nice is that the film has a good message and a touching twist.

There are even some pretty terrible looking lizard-like monsters. The downside of them is that they might be too frightening for the children, but they’ve probably already been exposed to monsters before.

Dax Shepard gives a good performance as The Astronaut. Robbins is also effective as Dad, although after the first ten minutes or so, he totally disappears from the story.

All in all, this is a movie that everyone can enjoy.

November 9, 2005