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"Zathura" (2005) Movie Review for Parents

The Journey Through Space, and Childhood, Can Be a Little Rocky

About.com Rating 3.5 Star Rating



Copyright© 2004 Sony Pictures. All rights reserved.

Rating: PG for fantasy action and peril, and some language
Genre: Fantasy/Sci-Fi
Runtime: 113 minutes

"Zathura" is based on the best-selling book by the acclaimed children's writer Chris Van Allsburg ("The Polar Express," "Jumanji").

Guide Review of "Zathura"

Growing up is hard enough, but six year-old Danny (Jonah Bobo) is having an especially rough time. Danny’s ten-year old brother Walter (Josh Hutcherson) acts like he wishes Danny was never born, and the boys vie for their father’s (Tim Robbins) attention while getting shuffled between mom and dad’s houses each week.

When Danny’s father leaves the brothers in the care of their older sister Lisa (Kristen Stewart), Walter won’t give his brother the time of day. Danny ends up in the basement of his father’s house, where he finds an old metal game called “Zathura.” Unable to convince Walter to play with him, Danny begins on his own, but it doesn’t take the brothers long to figure out the game is not playing around.

From the first card that Danny draws, “Meteor shower, take evasive action,” the boys realize that everything in the game happens for real, and they have been hurled into outer space with only one way home - finishing the game.

From a killer robot to flesh-eating lizard aliens, the boys must face extreme peril with little help aside from a stranded astronaut (Dax Shepard), a couple of special cards, and each other. In order to get through the game and make it home, they must stop fighting and start working together.


Copyright© 2004 Sony Pictures. All rights reserved. Photo credit: Merrick Morton

Although the concept of “Zathura” has been done before in "Jumanji," the new outer space twist is still exciting and makes for a good movie. The action and adventure are high in this film, and kids, especially boys, will probably love it. Some parents, however, may have slight concerns over language and attitude issues.

"Zathura" Info for Parents

Central to the outer-space adventure is the tender story of two bickering brothers who must learn how valuable they are to each other. Unfortunately the tender story and the fun action are a bit marred by some intermittent inappropriate language and some displays of very bad attitudes by the older brother and sister. For parents who have concerns with this type of content, please read the “content overview” below for specific examples to help you decide if the film is appropriate for your children given their ages and your family’s rules.

Some scenes are scary, action-filled, and tense. The boys are chased by a large malfunctioning robot, hunted by lizard aliens, almost sucked into deep, dark space, among other things. Older children will probably think these scenes are great, but younger kids will probably be frightened.

"Zathura" Content Overview

The following contains some of the most prominent examples of possibly scary or offensive content in the movie:

Violence (High)
-Meteors bombard the house causing extensive damage and small fires.
-A large robot tries to "destroy" Walter using various things such as a power saw hand.
-Zorgons, flesh-eating lizard-like aliens, fire at the house and later board the house and come after everyone inside.
-The Astronaut soaks the couch in lighter fluid, lights it on fire, and throws it out the door as Zorgon bait.

Sex/Nudity (Low)
-Lisa, the boys' older sister, is scantilly clad in her pajamas.
-Lisa's father is concerned about her use of the term "hooking up."

Profanity (Medium)
-Words such as "d*ck," "God," "hell," "ass," "be-otch," and "bug-nuts" are used.

Alcohol/Drugs (None)

Bad/Disrespectful Behavior (High)
-Walter and Danny fight, and Walter calls Danny a "baby" several times, among other mean terms.
-Phrases such as "sucks," "shut up," "God, I suck," and others are used.
-Lisa is disrespectful to her father, saying things such as, "what's your point" and "I'm not deaf." She is also rude to her brothers.

Scary Scenes (High)
-Scenes listed under violence may be scary.
-When Walter tries to take his shoe from the robot he thinks is dead, it snaps at him suddenly.
-Everyone hides as Zorgons scour the house looking for them.
-Walter is almost sucked into space.

Sad/Distressing Scenes (Medium)
-The boys are sad that their father has to work. They fight for their dad's attention.
-The astronaut tell about how he once wished his brother had never been born.
-Walter yells at his brother saying everything is Danny's fault, including their parents' divorce.

Discuss "Zathura" with Your Family

  • Why is it sometimes hard for siblings to get along? How can famiy relationships be strengthened and maintained?
  • The Sony Pictures "Zathura" website offers a teacher's guide with lesson plans for kids to learn more about space related science.
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