I have to admit that when Zathura came out, I saw that this was made by the creators of Jumanji. Without going into detail about Jummanji, I will have to say that I liked it. It had a cursed board game that was able to make interesting jungle things happen in the real world. The Zathura story is about a board game that can make space science-fiction things happen in the real world.
Yeah, it is the exact same frickin’ plot. Seriously, I suppose that this is how to sell something these days, make it a sequel even though the story is “original”. Actually, Zathura isn’t a sequel to Jumanji, as none of the original characters show up. Although it could take place in the same universe as Jumanji, it probably doesn’t. I suppose that this is a “spiritual sequel”, meaning that there are some elements from the first here, but no more. I personally thought that Jumanji was a hidden gem, but I didn’t think it was something that critics would love. After all, critics tend to not like stuff that is pretty crowd-pleasing.
So, how does Zathura begin? How do you think? Two kids are left alone. They get into a fight and spill some drink all over their father’s drawing of a car. So he has to leave, even though it kind of looks like he’s got the same picture of this car on the wall behind him. I don’t feel like verifying that, but honestly, why does he need a big picture of the car anyway? If he needs it for work, then he can just make a copy at work and leave it there. At least the set up is different. In Jumanji, the two kids lost their parents in a tragic backstory.
In Zathura, there is also a tragic backstory as the kids parents are divorced. It is only referenced directly once while the boys are fighting, and there is kind of a weird undertone there.
Anyway, so the boys are all alone, and one of them finds the magical board game. They start playing, and they can’t stop until it’s over because, seriously, that’s how these things work. Yeah, this would have been cool if this had been done once. I guess this just illustrates how sequels just make too much of a good thing.
One of the reason that I thought Jumanji worked is that it established a very interesting story outside of playing the game, but in Zathura, it’s all about the game. There is something neat about a house floating in space, and I would imagine that maybe this concept alone would have succeeded, but it isn’t alone, because Jumanji exists.
Oh gosh, how many times can I say that this film is just unoriginal? So what did I like about it? I watched it with my sons, and they liked it. I liked the retrofuturistic look to this game, and how it translated into real-life peril. There is a weird traveler who shows up, and there is some kind of time travel thing going on, with a twist! Unfortunately, an adult can see the twist coming pretty easily, or at least I did.
So yeah, this is probably targeted for someone who isn’t my age group, so I guess I can only recommend Zathura for that demographic.