Two young brothers find themselves in outer space when they start playing an old board game called ‘Zathura’. The only way for them to get back home is to work together and complete the game despite the dangers presented to them each time one takes their turn.

Zathura (2005) – Director: Jon Favreau

Is This Movie Suitable review Zathura - ok for younger children?

Rating: PG

Running Length: 113 mins

Starring: Josh Hutcherson, Jonah Bobo, Dax Shepard

Genre: Fantasy

 

REVIEW

A fun yarn of sibling rivalry and using your strengths to overcome dangers, the fantasy world of ‘Zathura’ is an enjoyable and imaginative romp. While this movie could be described as ‘Jumanji in space’, this is not just a rehash of the Robin Williams movie with a bigger budget. Director Favreau injects some pizzazz to the story which keeps the action going at a good pace while taking the time to explore the motivations of all the characters to create a believable basis for the extraordinary situation that the boys find themselves in.

Although ‘Zathura’ is jam-packed with action it does not exactly do anything new with this type of formula. Adults may feel somewhat familiar with many aspects of this movie but are likely to enjoy watching it through the wide-eyed wonderment of children who are seeing these themes for the first time. There are stupendous set pieces, wondrous escapes and an overall explosion of fantastical fun; ideal stuff for any child.

IS ‘ZATHURA’ SUITABLE FOR CHILDREN?

‘Zathura’ is definitely designed to appeal to a younger audience, however there are a few important points to note as highlighted below.

The dislike that older boy, Walter, has for his little brother, Danny, is evident. He is mean to him and enjoys upsetting him. Danny’s favourite hiding place is a ‘Dumb Waiter’ (a small lift /elevator used to transport goods or food between the storeys of a building). Walter finds him in there and uses it to put Danny in the basement which he knows the younger boy is afraid of. Walter (aged 10) uses a few curse words and Danny (aged 6) uses one in anger. Understanding the reason why it was said, his father does not reprimand him for this but does tell him that he shouldn’t use such language.

While playing the game, the boys inadvertently summon a robot which is malfunctioning; it sees them as an enemy to be destroyed. This leads to the robot chasing them around the house. These scenes could be rather frightening for younger children as the robot has red, angry eyes and a buzz saw for a hand. Its other hand is a vicious clamp which snaps at the boys when they are close.

Walter and Danny have an older sister called Lisa. She is a typical moody teenager who has plans of going on a date later in the day. She tells her dad that she will be ‘hooking up’ with someone later to which he dad says that he hopes she doesn’t mean what that sounds like. Lisa goes to the bathroom wearing a t-shirt and very short shorts. While she is there the game freezes her solid and, although she isn’t dead and both boys know that she is still alive, her fixed expression could be a little scary for younger children.

Some aliens attack the house during the game. There are several explosions and when the aliens are seen they are big dinosaur like creatures who, we are told, enjoy eating meat (the clear implication being that they wish to eat the children). There are a few sustained moments when these aliens are present, including when they are first introduced (although we only see their spaceship as it destroys parts of the house) or later, when they appear physically on-screen and enter the damaged home.

One action that you may not wish a child to emulate is that when the boys first realise that they are in space, Walter spits, expecting it to drop, however because of the lack of gravity, it floats away from the house. Another moment (relating to potential respect for the dead) involves a scene where a meteor crashes into the house and destroys an urn. Danny shouts out ‘Grandma!’ and while this is brief and intended as a comedy moment, some children might not understand it and may ask what it means. Lastly, there are several instances of bad language ranging from mild to moderate uses.

CAN I SEE A CLIP?

VERDICT

This is an enjoyable movie which is likely to spark the imaginations of many children and keep them entertained. The effects of all the explosions, the aliens and the general outside view of outer space are very good and makes this a very watchable kids movie.

Because of the scares and bad language, we would recommend this movie for children aged 8 and over although this does depend on the child and whether they are likely to repeat what they hear.

  • Violence:  3/5 (there are sustained scenes of the robot and aliens attacking the boys)
  • Emotional Distress: 2/5 (Danny is often picked on by Walter which upsets him)
  • Fear Factor: 3/5 (the out-of-control robot could be frightening, also an astronaut suddenly appears at the window with his visor down which may scare younger children)
  • Sexual Content:  1/5 (Lisa’s clothing is quite revealing although the characters do not comment on this)
  • Bad Language: 2/5
  • Dialogue: 1/5 (Walter says mean things to Danny throughout the movie)
  • Other notes: Deals with themes of sibling rivalry, bravery, accepting one another and working together to achieve your goals.

Words by Laura Record

Zathura [Blu-ray] [2005] [US Import]


New From: £13.20 GBP In Stock

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