Welcome to the first ever KidMovieThon review here on CFR!*
Enjoy this Monday with Mildred!
So yeah, I love kid movies. Having nearly exhausted the supply of zombie films suitable to watch, I felt I should move on. Since I’m an impatient person who will do the most fun thing first, my first KidMovieThon review will be one of my all-time favorites.
Looking out the window from your Wayback Machine you will see an atrocious film called Jumanji from the year 1995. Starring Robin Williams, it’s a movie about two kids who find an odd game and when they play it unleash all manner of excitement and danger to their world. CGI in 1995 was not ready for the kind of animation required for this movie, and Robin Williams was just trying too hard to be funny. Drive the Wayback Bus up ten years to 2005 and you’ll find a film about two kids who find an odd game and when they play it unleash all manner of excitement and danger to their world. This time it’s called Zathura, and it’s a well-made movie that hits on all cylinders.
One of the major differences between the two films is that Jumanji tried to gimmick its way through the crazy stuff, where Zathura is an old fashioned nuts and bolts movie. There are also a lot of actors in Zathura that you will recognize from their later work, like Dax Shepard from Robot Chicken, Parenthood and those TV commercials, Kristen Stewart from the Twilight movies (I didn’t say good actors, I said recognizable), Josh Hutcherson from The Hunger Games, Tim Robbins and Frank Oz. I noticed that a man named Peter Billingsley is one of the co-producers and I thought, “No way!” But I was right and it’s the same boy who played Ralphie in A Christmas Story, all grown up and still making fun movies.
As I mentioned, there aren’t a bunch of computer generated gimmicks here. The spectacular special effects are almost all mechanical, meaning, if a space ship full of meat eating lizards blows a huge hole in the roof of the boys’ house, then a huge hole is actually blown into the roof of the house set. The effects look marvelously real because they are real, with an occasional CGI boost. Even the game board itself is wicked cool. I’d love to have one of those, though I’d be afraid to play it.
There are good lessons to be learned if you’re a kid watching, as the two kids who find and play the game are brothers who are way past not getting along very well. They have to learn how to get beyond that, as well as the importance of not cheating. Because you DO NOT want to cheat at Zathura. If you’re watching as an adult, there is a lot of action and humor, plus the aforementioned cool FX.
Some people will tell you that it’s only for kids, and I think most kids would enjoy it. If you’re a kid at heart you’ll like it, so that means anyone out there should like watching Zathura. It’s one of my favorites and I recommend you try it.