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PCR # 294  (Vol. 6, No. 45)  This edition is for the week of November 7--13, 2005.

This Week's PCR
Movie Review
A Space Adventure"

Movie review by:
Michael A. Smith
Three stars

Movies are rated 0 to 4 stars

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"Zathura: A Space Adventure"
 by Mike Smith
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 by Andy Lalino
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 by John Lewis
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 by Mike Smith
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Starring: Josh Hutcherson, Jonah Bobo, and Tim Robbins
Directed by: Jon Favreau
Rated: PG
Running Time: 1 hour 53 mins

Author Chris Van Allsburg has been very good for Hollywood. His first book to be made into a film, "Jumanji," grossed $100 million. His next, "Polar Express," netted over $160 million. And judging from his third effort, "Zathura: A Space Adventure," good things should come in threes.

"Zathura" is the story of two brothers, Walter and Danny (Hutcherson and Bobo). The children of divorced parents, the boys are currently trying to find some time together with their work-a-holic father (Robbins). Dad does his best to spend quality time with them, but his work responsibilities cause him to mete out his company, going as far as to limit each son to 25 catches each when throwing a ball around. This doesn't sit too well with Walter as he feels his dad is spending too much time with Danny because he's younger. Called to an afternoon meeting, dad leaves the boys in the care of their older sister (Kristen Stewart) who is worried more about attending a late evening party then what her brothers are up to. While down in the basement Danny discovers an old board game. ZATHURA. Danny tries to interest Walter in playing but he'd rather watch Sportscenter. Dejected, Danny decides to play the game by himself. He pushes a button, his game piece moves and he's issued a card from the middle of the game. The instructions on the card send the boys, their sister and their HOUSE on an adventure of amazing proportions!

As conceived by director Favreau, who made his mark with "Swingers" but who has already tackled a holiday film with "Elf," the story is one of surprises, with one adventure following another. After their house is launched into outer space like the Gale farm house in "The Wizard of Oz," the boys discover that they must finish the game to get back home, no matter what challenges they are faced with. Joined by an astronaut (Dax Shepard) that arrives after a game card calls for him, they deal with everything from malfunctioning robots to the carnivorous Zorgons, a reptilian race searching the galaxy for fresh meat. During the game the boys are awarded wishes and what they wish for, or more importantly don't wish for, will have an effect not only on the outcome of the game but their very lives.

Visually the film is stunning. Guillermo Navarro, long time cinematographer for Robert Rodriguez, fills the screen with color and light, which enhance the story and make it flow. The special effects are top notch and should hold the attention of even the most fidgity of children. One word of caution, some scenes, including those with the Zorgons, are pretty intense for a PG rated film. If you're taking a little one, expect to have your hand squeezed more then once! Otherwise, kids should enjoy it. And why shouldn't they. One of the producers is Peter Billingsley, best remembered as Ralphie Parker in the holiday classic, "A Christmas Story." On a scale of zero to four stars, I give "Zathura: A Space Adventure"  Three stars

This week's movie review of "Zathura: A Space Adventure" is ©2005 by Michael A. Smith.  All graphics this page are creations of Nolan B. Canova, ©2005, all rights reserved. All contents of "Nolan's Pop Culture Review" are ©2005 by Nolan B. Canova.