Single dad (Tim Robbins) is a busy man indeed. He has a hard time juggling work commitments, improving his new spacious home and raising three kids, teen girl Lisa and two boys, ten year old Walter and 8 year old Danny. An even harder time when the house and the three kids fly off into space…
It begins when dad leaves the trio alone for a short while, unaccompanied in a large fixer-upper house that he has just moved to. A home chock full of unexplored rooms and old stuff to rummage about in.
It is during the initial rummage that an old and intriguing discovery is made, the space themed game Zathura, where every move brings a new card and many clunky clinks and clunks in the game itself (like the gurgling the old Atari used to do when loading). Only the first card proves eerily prescient, and the second has the house hurtling into space, with the action even being noisy enough to rouse Lisa from her eternal teenage slumber. It seems that the only way to return is to finish the game, but who would dare when every move puts both the home and the occupants at potential peril?
One especially fortuitous turn brings a spaceman (Dax Shepherd), another less friendly the attention of a race of nasty space aliens who would eat the kids for dinner.
Tim Robbins might be in it but this is a film all about the kids, all of whom fare well, although the older boy’s constant bullying of his younger brother gets to the point where you wish he’d smack him in the chops. I know, I know – great parenting right?
To recap; spacemen, aliens, freezing one’s sister, deep space adventures in general, it’s all very boy’s own stuff. It might be a bit scary for the littlies, what with the aliens having humans on the menu and all, but that (totally non) coveted niche market of 9 – 11 year old boys wins out again.
And as a result Zathura suffers the fate of so many films made for this forgotten generation. Not cute or cool enough, not gory or mature enough for adults, not accessible enough for the fairer sex, Zathura is actually a well realised film, but like the most carefully constructed bike helmet for dogs, there just isn’t much of a market for it.
Final Rating – 7.5 / 10. A fun way to kill a couple hours if only the kids would look up from Skylanders for long enough.