Zathura: A Space Adventure (2005)

(In theaters, November 2005) Unapologetically directed at kids, Zathura: A Space Adventure will likely bore adults for at least part of the first act. The kids actors are annoyingly good at portraying pre-teen infighting and result is just about as pleasant as being stuck with two real turbulent kids. Fortunately the plot soon blasts into orbit and the rest of the film becomes a lot more interesting. In fact, the film is likely to inspire a heavy bout of nostalgia for anyone who was a kid SF fan: While Zathura is, at best, fantasy with SF gadgets, there’s still a good part of wonder in contemplating, say, a house floating around a gas giant. And that’s not saying anything about meteor strikes, mad robots, stranded astronauts, carnivorous aliens and the other good stuff that unfolds. It’s possible to quibble about the deterministic structure of the plot, the on-the-nose sentimental moments or the weak conclusion, but it’s difficult to do so while entertaining a bit of childlike sense of wonder. Zathura is unlikely to be much more than a blip in the SF canon, but in some ways it exemplifies a lot of what initially attracts fans to the genre.

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