Wednesday, February 15, 2006


Movie of the Week: Zathura (2005) The tagline: "A new adventure from the world of Jumanji" was not particularly inspiring. I only mildly enjoyed Jumanji(1995), and my tolerance for bratty cinema kids is not particularly high. I found to my surprise that I really enjoyed this movie.

It begins with the set up, Dad (Tim Robbins) is coping with kids he is often absent for. The eldest, Lisa, a teen daughter, wants to be left alone. The second, Walter is nasty and dismissive to his little brother, Danny, because he claims Danny is responsible for the parents' divorce. Danny feels inept and just wants some attention from anybody. Dad is absent once again and Danny finds a space game, Zathura. Once they boys begin the game (about 10 minutes in) the movie picks up the pace and doesn't let up. It cracks right along with meteors, a homicidal robot (voiced by Frank Oz), lizardy aliens, goats with four eyes and a stranded spaceman.

As in Jumanji, the kids find a mentor in the stranded kid (now adult) from a past game, who helps Walter, Danny, and Lisa navigate the dangers of the universe. Also as in Jumanji, there are plot devises around losing the gameboard or pieces of the game. What makes the difference between Zathura and Jumanji is in the reconciliation of the siblings. Perhaps because there is not the distraction of Robin Williams, perhaps because the dynamic is primarily about two brothers versus a brother and a sister; but the relational reconciliation is not slow and dragging as in Jumanji.

Forget everything you know about science for this movie. Walter makes some comment about worrying if there will be enough air to last them, ignoring the big gaping hole into vaccuum. Ignore the fact that they would be incinerated long before they fell into a star's gravity well. If you are OK with 4 eyed goats, ignore the total lack of science in this fiction, and enjoy the killer robot-he does not disappoint.

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