Movie Reviews
12:34 pm
Tue November 8, 2005

Zathura

A comfort to see in these highly digitized times.

If you've seen the Jumanji menagerie, then you will be prepared for another Chris Van Allsburg board game that turns real. Zathira is the name of an interstellar game that sends the Budwing children to Jupiter to witness Buck Rogers type space ships with the jet engines spewing flames, lizard monsters the size of dinosaurs, and a robot out of the Robbie genre from TV's lost in Space.

The antediluvian special effects and sci fi paraphernalia are a comfort to see in these highly digitized times. The themes are old fashioned, hammered home at the end, and also comforting in their simplicity.

It's the themes that will bring the parents joy, especially the one about brothers being kind to each other. Given that older brother Walter is constantly harassing younger and cuter brother Danny and sister Lisa a uniform screamer throughout, the film's emphasis on family love and unity is appropriate from the beginning.

When Dad (Tim Robbins) comforts young Danny (Jonah Bobo) that he is superior to his brother in one way--the exercise of imagination--the film goes forward to show that its own imagination is as good as that of brother Lucas. Given that the opening shot is of dad tossing the ball around, the parallel emphasis on imagination and feelings is much more emphatic by contrast.

You won't get the artistic rush Jumanji seemed to generate, but you will be amused by the old-fashioned animation, monsters, and preaching. This quote may help explain the complicated mechanism of love and art:

"Out of a brotherly love we occasionally embrace this or that somebody (because we cannot embrace everybody): but we must never let our somebody know it." Friedrich Nietzsche