Film (2005). Columbia Pictures presents a Radar Pictures/Teitler Film/Michael de Luca production. Directed by Jon Favreau. Written by David Koepp & John Camps, based on Zathura: A Space Adventure (graph 2002) by Chris van Allsburg. Cast includes Jonah Bobo, Josh Hutcherson, Tim Robbins, Dax Shepard and Kristen Stewart. 119 minutes. Colour.
Two squabbling brothers discover a vintage mechanical space-themed Board Game which traps its players in a series of perilous deep-space situations until the game is played to the end.
Title notwithstanding, this is really a Fantasy film robed in sf imagery, based loosely on a picture-book from the author of The Polar Express (graph 1985) and Jumanji (graph 1981), to the latter of which the book is a sequel and the film (which does not use the same characters in both) an attempt at a branded successor. Not an obvious project for either Koepp (see Jurassic Park, Spider-Man, War of the Worlds) or Favreau, then known principally as a comedy actor and occasional writer-director of smaller independent character ensembles, it presents a surprisingly dark view of childhood as riven by sibling squabbles, parental disconnection, and marginalization of the female, with a grim and unsettling Time Loop marooning one brother in space limbo for wishing his sibling away. Despite some striking visual set pieces, the daringly unlovable cast proved a box-office turnoff, though it would prove an important career stepping-stone for its director and young stars. [NL]
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