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 their old 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.
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