IMDb; Rotten Tomatoes; Sony Pictures; TV Tropes; Wikia; Wikipedia
streaming sites: Amazon; FandangoNOW; Google Play; iTunes; Movies Anywhere; Vudu
This was based on a book by Chris Van Allsburg, just like the movie Jumanji. Like that movie, this is about a board game that comes to life for the players. This one was about "A Space Adventure" (the subtitle of the "Zathura" board game). Because of the space aspect, I was going to put this review in "science fiction," but then I decided it's closer to "fantasy," or maybe "paranormal," or even "weird." But finally I thought, meh, I'll just call it "family," and leave it at that. In spite of the movie's fantastic elements.
The story focuses on a boy named Danny, and his older brother Walter (Josh Hutcherson). They don't get along. Danny's upset that Walter's better than him at pretty much everything, and that Walter doesn't want to play with him. Walter's upset because he says Danny always cheats, and also he blames Danny for their parents' divorce. Anyway, one Saturday the two of them are home alone, because their dad had to go to work... actually their older sister Lisa (Kristen Stewart) is supposed to look after them til their mom comes to pick them up, but she spends the early part of the movie just sleeping. Well, Danny finds this old board game in the basement, and takes the first turn. Walter doesn't want to play. But... the first turn brings a meteor shower, which does major damage to the house, and when it's over, the boys find that the house is floating in outer space. So it seems the only way to get home is to finish the game. And each turn can bring new dangers, including defective robots, alien lizards, and Lisa being frozen in cryosleep. Even the seemingly good turns, like getting to wish on a shooting star, could turn out to be disastrous. There's an important plot point about that one, which I won't divulge... I predicted this twist, although it doesn't exactly make sense.
Whatever, there's also an astronaut (Dax Shepard) who's been stuck in the game for 15 years, who shows up on one turn, and sticks around to help the boys out. And... I guess there's nothing else I can say about the plot, except that everything turns out alright in the end, and the adventure ends up bringing Danny and Walter closer together. Anyway, it was a decent story. I thought the part before the game started was a bit boring, but it wasn't bad, really. And then, the adventure was interesting enough, if a bit... simplistic. It was very retro sci-fi stuff, because it was an old board game. And board games don't tend to have much in the way of coherent plots, of course. But the adventure itself isn't really important, except as a catalyst to drive the real story, which is the relationship between the brothers. Mind you, without the adventure, the story wouldn't be interesting enough to bother watching.... Well, what else? There was a bit of humor. And um... I guess that's about all I can say. I dunno if I feel the need to ever see the movie again, but I might, someday.... (Edit: I have more interest in rewatching this movie now that I've rewatched "Jumanji," which I liked a lot more the second time than I did the first time. Maybe I'd like this one more on second viewing, too.)