Zathura, which promotes itself as "a new adventure from the world of Jumanji," involves a pair of siblings left alone at home who find and play a forgotten board game which gives them a lot more than they bargained for. But, despite their similarities, Zathura does things that Jumanji only dreamed about, and does them more dynamically and excitingly.

Jon Favreau (Made, Elf) directs this gem, possibly explaining why there's a little kid calling his older brother a "dick" and said brother using the word "bi-atch" (some movies will do anything to hold onto a child-friendly rating -- no one says "bi-atch" anymore!).

Rare profanity included, Zathura is very successful as a family film. The action, peppered with subtle humor and formulaic drama, will entertain adults and kids alike. Additionally, Zathura is surprisingly intimate for an action/adventure; save a few wide shots, the camera is always exploring the one house, usually right next to an actor. The cast, too, consists primarily of just five people -- four when you consider that Tim Robbins' character is absent for 95% of the movie.

These decisions to "think small" as the house floats along in deep space actually enhance the action and emotion of the film, as does a simple plot with the perfect twist. Zathura is a stellar film in time for the family holiday season.


All comments eligible for publication in Daily Pennsylvanian, Inc. publications.