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Zathura (Special Edition) (Bilingual) [Import]

Josh Hutcherson , Jonah Bobo , Jon Favreau    DVD
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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In Columbia Pictures' heart-racing sci-fi adventure Zathura, two squabbling brothers are propelled into deepest, darkest space while playing a mysterious game they discovered in the basement of theirold house. On their fantastic journey, they are joined by a stranded astronaut and must survive meteor showers, hostile lizard-like aliens, a rocket-propelled robot run amok and an intergalactic spaceship battle. Unless they finish the game and reach the planet Zathura, they could be trapped in outer space forever.

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Zathura, a smart and stylish kid's adventure, launches into action when Danny (Jonah Bobo) twists the key of a dusty science fiction game--a game that unleashes a localized meteor shower and wrenches Danny's house into orbit around a distant ringed planet, bringing Danny's brother Walter (Josh Hutcherson, Kicking and Screaming) and sister Lisa (Kristen Stewart, Panic Room) along. Soon a defective robot, a rangy astronaut (Dax Shepard, Without a Paddle), and an alien spaceship enter the picture. Only by completing the game can the kids return their house to its proper space-time coordinates, but the game board falls into the hands of some nasty, carnivorous lizards. Zathura has some obligatory emotional conflict and resolution between the two brothers, but that's pretty much beside the point; what makes Zathura a delight is the wonderful design, the skillful escalation of disasters, and the adroit direction of Jon Favreau (Elf), who is quickly becoming the go-to guy for mass-market movies with wit and timing. Some situations may be too intense for younger kids; Favreau ratchets up the suspense at a few points. Based on the book by Chris Van Allsburg (Jumanji). Also featuring Tim Robbins (The Shawshank Redemption). --Bret Fetzer

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5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable! March 31 2006
By Kay
Format:DVD
I really enjoyed this movie! I thought it was going to be a "kids only" kind of movie but as a older parent I liked it too. The kids were cute (the older boy is starring in "Little Manhattan" check it out he is really adorable in that movie!)
This movie might not appeal to all viewers but it's worth a look!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Zathura Dec 28 2011
This was an excellent family movie. It is full of action and suspense. It was delivered in only a few days after ordering, and came in good condition. I will have no problem to order again.
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Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  244 reviews
75 of 83 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Nov. 11 2005
By Ashley Quinn - Published on Amazon.com
Yes, it does have the same basic premise as Jumanji (both books were written by the same guy, after all!)-- board game wreaks havoc on innocent children who happen to have a few problems other than an insane board game. But Zathura is about 100 times better. First of all, the characters aren't overshadowed by 1) huge special effects and 2)big name actors who take over the movie. This is a movie with heart, and a great way to start the holiday season, I might add. Remember how surprisingly good the fun, holiday movie Elf was? This is like that, and both are directed by Jon Favreau. This film does a marvelous job of making an implausible situation seem plausible, while giving the characters some realness.

Two young boys, Walter (age 10) and Danny (age 6) are constantly fighting. Danny just wants someone to play with. Walter could care less. Their father (played by Tim Robbins) is newly divorced, which only adds to this family's stress. There's also an older sister, Lisa, who sleeps until 2 pm and doesn't care about anyone but herself. When Danny finds a mysterious game in the basement called Zathura, he begs Walter to play. Walter doesn't feel like it, so Danny begins to play anyway. On his first spin, the game spits out a card that reads, "Meteor Shower. Take evasive action." Danny can't really read, and it's not until their living room is being pelleted with meteors that the boys take evasive action. Danny runs in circles screaming. Eventually, when the house if floating in the middle of space, they rescue a stranded astronaut (played wonderfully by Dax Shephard!), who reveals that he also once played the game and that's why he's a stranded astronaut. There's actually a twist in this movie about the astronaut, which I totally didn't see coming. I had to explain it to my little cousins because they didn't really get it, but they still thought it was cool.

In the words of a three year old movie critic prodigy, this movie is "really really cool, kinda scary, but really cool." She even said it was better than Jumanji! And if you can't take my word for it, take hers. This is a very sweet movie that explores not only the far reaches of space, but the relationship that siblings have with one another. Very good and PERFECT for kids (except a couple swear words, nothing to really worry about though), I HIGHLY HIGHLY RECOMMEND this movie!!
22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A lot of fun and pleasing on the eye March 30 2007
By Larry VanDeSande - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
A highly entertaining family film about the inadvertant adventure of two boys and their teenage sister, "Zathura" is a space game the bumbling brothers find one day while stationed at dad's house (the parents are divorced and dad gets parenting time in this flick.) After about 15 minutes setting the scene of the brothers intermittently fighting, cutting down each other, failing to get along, and being bored at dad's house, dad goes to the store, the younger borther finds the game and, wow, does the movie go into outer space.

The game requires each player to turn a knob which tells them where to move, after which their spaceship correspondingly advances on the board, and a card pops up with a message. Essentially, whatever comes up on a popup card in the game happens to the boys in real life. Right away, their dad's house is hoisted to the universe where they are variously attacked by spacecraft, hone in on and rescue a lost astronaut, try to survive a deranged robot, fail to be fried by passage too close to somebody's sun, and a half-dozen other calamaities. Oh yeah, their sister becomes cryonic during one of these gambits and spends time as a frozen statue. That astronaut turns out to be somebody pretty special, too.

Jon Favreau's direction, the outer space staging, and the set designs are all sumptuous in this highly-evolved film that is basically for kids...but my wife and I laughed throughout and stayed involved all the way to the end. There's a moral to this tale, of course, that is predictably homespun. Tim Robbins plays the dad in the opening and closing scenes; he must have been filming elsewhere when he made this flick.

One unanticipated devlopment from this game, er, movie -- the score reminded me so much of Gustav Holst's "The Planets" that I soon bought a newer version of that music. Don't know if that one's any good; I'll grade it here later. This movie is definitely a winner for anyone that is or once was a child and has (or had) an imagination. Even if you don't have it anymore, you'll remember what it was like having one watching this flick.
66 of 78 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Would you take a child in kindergarten to see this? Nov. 13 2005
By Jason A. Miller - Published on Amazon.com
I took my 5 1/2 year-old nephew, a kindergartener, to see "Zathura". I expected Michael, as someone who's been exposed to a steady diet of Ninja Turtles, Power Rangers, and Spider-Man, as well as to Peanuts, the Wiggles and the Muppets, to enjoy the sci-fi elements. Predictably, he spent the second half of the film cowering in his seat, latched onto both of my arms... and he walked out of the theater at the end loving every minute of it, completely jazzed about the experience. We spent most of the 10-minute walk back talking about outer space, aliens, and how it was all fiction, and he drew a lot of pictures of aliens (most of whom looked like Muppets) once he got home.

As others here have said, the language used by the two boys in the movie (10 and 7) is a little disconcerting. However, they use the same words I was exposed to at that age, and comparable to the language Michael is exposed to at home. Michael didn't walk out of the theater cursing, so that part of the movie did not bother me.

The scare factor is somewhat intense. The predictable monsters don't show up until the final two reels and aren't what I'd call terrifying, although that's the part of the movie that had Michael cowering. There's also a big clunky '50s-style robot, but when you find out who provides the voice you'll realize that this wasn't meant to be terrifying -- not if anything to say about it Jon Favreau had. The images of the house floating through space, alongside asteroids and suns, is what will really stand out for the younger viewer.

This is basically a kids' movie directed by Jon Favreau, so naturally it's going to seem odd. Based on the uncomfortably short shorts worn by the teenage girl in the movie (and she has nothing else to do at all), I'd say the target audience is boys 9 to 12. There's also a surprisingly deep plot twist involving another game player that the boys meet as their house drifts through space. I had trouble explaining that to my nephew, although his grandmother didn't understand it either.

My final verdict is that it's safe to take a smaller child (6-ish) to this movie, and they will not take anything negative away from the experience. It's no loss if you make them wait another three years before seeing it, though.
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome family sci-fi now on Blu-Ray June 16 2011
By SRFireside - Published on Amazon.com
I went into this movie at first not expecting much, and if you look at it on paper that's exactly how it seems. This observation starts changing with each new scene in the movie opening up a very pleasant experience all around. Zathura is a spiritual sequel/remake of Jumanji, and aside from the whole story being based on playing a board game there are almost no similarities between the two. That being said Zathura is a great film about sibling rivalry and bonding that unfolds in an ever-expanding universe of imagination and wonder. It's a family film best suited for young adults and young at heart.

Here's the plot. Two brothers decide to play an old wind up board game found in the basement. Every time they come to an event on the game it comes to life. This being a sci-fi game those events come in the forms of a rampaging robot, menacing aliens, a wayward astronaut, meteor storms and other sorts of mayhem that systematically trash their house and challenge the brothers to outrun or out-think their way out of every situation. In the process the brothers build a stronger connection with each other that ends with a very satisfying, even if ultimately stereotypical, happy ending.

The story is laid out in such a way where the viewer is learning new things as the plot moves forward. The set up of the characters and their lives, playing Zathura, finding solutions on the way. All of this is done in a way that empathizes with the point of view of the kids. Notice I didn't say "through their eyes". This isn't a movie trying to pander to younger audiences with goofy gimmicks. The storytelling is mature while at the same time very accessible. As an aside this story just isn't evolving around the family. There is a universe that unfolds from the game that resonates more than just being various creatures and events to build excitement. It comes out as a living, breathing entity of itself that feels like it will go on long after the boys finish with their game.

At its core this movie is a science fiction film, and the imagination put behind that element on Zathura is really nice. Since the game itself seems to be from the 50's era the robots and spaceships in the film have that nostalgic and classic sci-fi look. If you like the Flash Gordon/Buck Rogers look back in that day you will love this homage to the style. The alien baddies on the film, the Zorgons, are a pretty well developed concept with the creatures having a bit of depth in it more so than just a generic bad guy. They also are the coolest looking reptile alien I have seen.

The special effects for this movie are beyond excellent. Director Jon Favreau (of Iron Man fame) decided to use as much practical effects as possible and the end result is so visceral and tangible that it shames all of those movies who opt for pure CGI for their effects. Real walls come tumbling down. The rocketships and embattled house in space are real models. The explosions and flames are real. The Zorgons (designed by legendary Stan Winston in fact) have real actors in them along with animatronics. When you see a robot running in a kitchen knocking down dishes it's really a guy in a bulky costume slipping all over the floor and tearing up real props. Sure computer effects are used to touch up that robot and add digital backdrops. This amount of tactile interaction makes what you see feel a lot more real. It makes all the difference.

The acting is impressive and shows some real keen strategy in the casting. The youngest kid (played by Jonah Bobo) has the big eyed wonder that moms melt for and had that underdog demeanor that all younger brothers feel at one time or another. The older brother (played by Josh Hutcherson) is a classic "boy too old to be a kid and young to be a man yet trying to reach that plateau". Both child actors play off their parts with a kind of conviction to the part that impresses me when I see it in adult actors. They are playing kids with kid's complicated lives, and you believe that to the hilt. Then you have their sister (played by Kristen Stewart of Twilight fame). Her time on the screen is not as long as the brothers, but her interaction with them as the teenage sister sells the performance of that complicated relationship a teen would have with younger siblings. The only other main role was the astronaut (Dax Shepard). Dax plays the part with a natural and casual demeanor that says he's used to being in the middle of all the craziness. In other words the acting is as well produced as the special effects and story in my book.

Zathura didn't do too well in the box office with a lot of people dismissing it as Jumanji without the star power. More the pity, as this movie to me feels like it's much better than Jumanji's special effects-laden showcase, yet many didn't get a chance to experience that. Now you can get the movie on a Blu-Ray and DVD combo pack, and it includes all of the great special features found on the DVD along with an exclusive extra. Visually I don't think you can get any better on this sort of film. The details from the live action and models really come out. This BD-50 disk (announced region free) is packed with language options with a DTS-HD English 5.1 master audio track and 5.1 Dolby Digital in five languages (Spanish, French, Japanese, Portugese and Thai). Subtitles are in all these languages plus Chinese (traditional Mandarin I think), Korean, Dutch, Indonesian and Arabic. Here are the features:

Audio Commentary - With director Jon Favreau and producer Peter Billingsley. They have really good chemistry on this commentary and you get a score of interesting information as well as some entertaining banter.

The Right Moves: The Making of Zathura - Goes over the book the movie is based on and how the production wished to honor that book. They also go over the human aspect of the film and in capturing that element in the story.

Race to the Black Planet: A Visual Effects Documentary - This is a really cool making of featurette that shows how they did all of those practical effects I was talking about as well as the CGI and digital elements of the film. You get to see some cool pre-production footage and how they tweaked it in post production.

The Cast - Actor profiles and their comments on making the film. Some cute anecdotes like how Bobo was loosing his baby teeth during filming and they had to get a bridge made for him.

Zorgons, Robots and Frozen Lisa - A featurette on Stan Winston and his company's contributions to the movie.

Making the Game - A little documentary on the game Zathura and what thoughts went behind designing it.

Miniatures - Remember when I said they used miniatures for the spaceships and exteriors of the house in space? Well here you get to see those efforts and get some insight on why they were the best choice.

The World of Chris Van Allsburg - Kind of a tribute to the author of the book the movie is based on. It goes through a little biography of Van Allsburg.

Race Through Space: Virtual Board Game - This is a Blu-Ray exclusive. While all the other featurettes will be on both Blu-Ray and DVD this one is only on the BD. This is a two player game where you race to beat your opponent on a digital board game by answering film related trivia questions.

Zathura is a grossly under-appreciated film that has gotten lots of good feedback from people who saw it, but unfortunately not many people actually did. Sci-fi fans, with families or without, do yourself a favor and get this flick. The Blu-Ray has a lot of great extras and will likely look awesome on top of that.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Kindergarten to Fifth Grade Unless You are a Kristen Stewart Fan Aug. 4 2006
By Only-A-Child - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Those who criticize "Zathura" for being a copycat "Jumanji" are apparently clueless about the Van Allsburg's books. "Zathura" is a sequel to "Jumanji", it is about what happened when the Budwing brothers opened the game box that Peter and Judy discarded at the end of "Jumanji". Early board games were often designed with two-sided boards so that the game pieces could be used to play two different games-usually of the same type. "Zathura" was the flip side of the "Jumanji" game board and the ones the brothers choose to play (because Walter did not like jungle games). So it is supposed to be another "Jumanji".

Having grown up with this same sibling age dynamic (six and ten) I was not surprised at the amount of yelling, anger, and resentment that goes on between the two brothers. I was however surprised that anyone would find this sort of thing entertaining. While their divorced father (Tim Robbins playing the only sympathetic character in the film) is away at a meeting, the younger brother (Danny) finds an old Zathura game in the basement. Based on those old 1950's tin toys it involves two tin spaceships on a track racing around space. Each spin of the dial determines the distance the ship will move on that turn and a card is ejected detailing what happens to the ship at that point of space.

As Danny and Walter face the challenges of space they discover that they can work as a team and they even develop some affection for each other (a more unrealistic idea than anything they actually encounter in space).

Like the source book, the movie adaptation of "Zathura" targets kindergarten to Grade 5 children. Like "Sharkboy and Lavagirl", older viewers will find very little of interest other than a fun production design and nice effects.

Unfortunately "Zathura" it is not as pure as that film which uniquely refused to compromise its "for kids only" story. "Zathura" does compromise, as the producers attempt to expand their audience by creating an older sister (Lisa played by Kristen Stewart) who was not a character in the book. While Stewart is fine in this role and even provides some comic relief, it is rather disturbing that the producers chose to turn her into a pubescent sex object, blustering around the house in her underwear for most of the film. Van Allsburg's illustrations are the best part of his books but this image is not one than he has ever published.

The DVD has some excellent special features, which even older viewers will enjoy. The best is an interview with Van Allsburg in which he discusses his influences and his other books.

Then again, what do I know? I'm only a child.
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