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zathura_houseZathura is more than just a Jumanji wannabe. If that sentence didn’t make any sense to you its because you’ve forgotten about the 1995 movie Jumanji starring Robin Williams. Both movies are based on Chris Van Allsburg books and both are flights of fantasy based on board games that come to life. Beyond that they have little in common. Jumanji was a big budget special effects spectacular that I felt let the effects overwhelm the story. Zathura is about two brothers and an mysterious board game that beams them into outer space, but Elf director Jon Favreau never lets the human element of the story get washed away by the effects. Even though there are black holes, menacing robots, evil lizard-like space creatures named Zorgons and a cryogenically frozen sister, he wisely keeps the focus on the boys and their relationship. Zathura is an action-oriented family film with a sly sense of humor and a healthy dose of sentiment but without the gross-out elements that are so often a part of children’s entertainment.

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