Monday, December 7, 2015

Zathura (2005)

Number Rolled: 80
Movie Name/Year: Zathura (2005)
Tagline: Adventure is waiting.
Genre: Family
Length: 100 minutes
Rating: PG
Production Companies: Columbia Pictures Corporation, Radar Pictures, Teitler Film, Michael De Luca Productions
Executive Producer: Louis D’Esposito, Ted Field
Director: Jon Favreau
Writer: Chris Van Allsburg, David Koepp, John Kamps
Actors: Jonah Bobo, Josh Hutcherson, Dax Shepard, Kristen Stewart, Tim Robbins, Frank Oz

Danny and Walter are brothers, but they don’t really get along. While their dad is out and their older sister is tasked with watching them, they find a game that is out of this world.

Selina’s Point of View:
So, all throughout watching Zathura I couldn’t help but think about its similarities to Jumanji (1995). It wasn’t until after I finished watching and began to research the film that I found out it started out as a book written by the same author and is part of the same world. Apparently, at one point during production, it was even considered the sequel to Jumanji before that idea was scrapped by Columbia.

I disagree with Columbia. Zathura will forever be considered Jumanji 2 to me. Headcanon.

Usually, I have an issue with kid-based movies because the kids seemed to almost be trained to over-act. I think that’s kind of bullshit, because it condemns those kids to short-lived acting careers because they have to learn how to not suck once they hit puberty and Hollywood thinks they’re not cute anymore. Wanna know why child-stars go crazy? See the beginning of this paragraph.

This movie was atypical. The only person in the movie that over acted, no joke, was Kristen Stewart (American Ultra, On the Road, Equals). I know there are some confused faces staring at the screen wondering what an overacting Kristen Stewart looks like. Well, watch the film.

Despite his age, Jonah Bobo (Crazy Stupid Love, The Backyardigans, Around the Bend) was convincing as Danny. At least, as convincing as any child his age can be. There were a few meh moments, but nothing that pulled me out of it. Where Josh Hutcherson (Journey 2: The Mysterious Island, Detention, Red Dawn) is concerned, I can definitely see how he went from his performance in Zathura to that insanely convincing Peeta act in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2. Acting just seems to come naturally to him.

Finally, Dax Shepard (Idiocracy, Employee of the Month, Parenthood) is always awesome. He’s one of those underrated actors that I see rocking a ton of great parts and not getting spoken about nearly as much as he should. In that way, he’s in the same category as Matthew Lillard (SLC Punk, The Bridge, Fat Kid Rules the World) to me. Tons of talent, not enough appreciation for it. Fun fact: Shepard and Lillard co-starred in the 2004 film Without a Paddle.

I enjoyed this film more than I thought I would. I’d both watch it again and recommend it.

Cat’s Point of View:
When this film was released, my daughter was only two; and I didn’t feel particularly interested in it. The previews had me thinking that I’d seen it before – the plot looked like Jumanji (1995) in space, and Robin Williams (August Rush, Shrink, Happy Feet 2) wasn’t in it.

What a difference a decade makes.

Now that my daughter is twelve, we were able to watch this one together. I have to admit that I was hasty in judging the film in the past. It stood well on its own, even with a similar premise and framework.

The special effects team did a bang up job with this one (yes, that was a pun – I couldn’t help it!).  They threw the laws of physics right out the window in such a way that it was whimsical, fitting, and didn’t look hokey. Of course, the tween and I are both Whovians, so that did help a little in suspending disbelief.

Jon Favreau (Iron Man, Cowboys and Aliens, Chef) did a wonderful job with this movie. I can’t wait to see his vision for the upcoming MTV series based on author Terry Brooks’ Shannara (1944-) books.

I tip my proverbial hat to the cast of this film. Jonah Bobo (Choke, The Fox and the Hound 2, Disconnect), Josh Hutcherson (RV, The Kids Are All Right, Epic), and Kristen Stewart (Jumper, The Runaways, Camp X-Ray) had chemistry at a level that I would have really believed they were siblings, had I not known otherwise. Their sibling rivalry was excellently executed.

I halfway wish that I had watched this movie years ago, instead of giving it a pass – if no other reason than perhaps getting a glimpse at Kristen Stewart’s acting ability before the sparkly vampire movies colored my perception of her.

I geeked out a bit when I realized that the legendary voice actor responsible for so many beloved characters, Frank Oz (Sesame Street, Star Wars Rebels, Inside Out), had a role in this movie. It wasn’t one of his iconic characters, either. See if you can guess, as you watch without looking it up!

We had a lot of fun watching this movie, and I would gladly recommend it.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 75%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 51%

Netflix’s Prediction for Selina – 4/5
Selina’s Trust-the-Dice Score4/5

Netflix’s Prediction for Cat – 4.5/5
Cat’s Trust-the-Dice Score4/5

Movie Trailer:

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