Story

Danny (Jonah Bobo), Walter (Josh Hutcherson) and Lisa (Kristen Stewart) have parents who are divorced. They spend part of the time with their father (Tim Robbins) and part with their mother. Danny is nearly seven and feels that Walter is better than him at everything. Walter is 10 and constantly accuses Danny of cheating and refusing to play with him. The two fight all the time.

The boys are left in the care of their older teenage sister for a short while. In the middle of yet another argument, Walter lowers Danny into the basement, which is dark and scary, via the dumb waiter. While Danny is trying to get out of it, he finds the game Zathura: A Space Adventure. All three start to play the game, and they are transported into outer space where they  experience all sorts of exciting things. They are hit by a meteor shower, Lisa is cryogenically frozen, Walter is chased by an angry robot, and the house is attacked by Zorgons. Along the way, they rescue an astronaut (Dax Shepard) who helps them fight the Zorgons. To get home they must finish the game.

Themes

None of concern

Violence

There are a couple of violent scenes in this movie. For example:

  • A big aggressive-looking robot chases Walter and tries to attack him with the intention of killing him.
  • When the house goes into outer space, Zorgons shoot at it.

Content that may disturb children

Under 8

  • The basement is a big, dark and creepy place with a ‘monster-like’ furnace.
  • Lisa is cryogenically frozen. This looks scary. It also worries the boys because they are not sure whether she is OK and whether she will be able to help them again.
  • There is a moment where Walter is sucked out into space. The astronaut goes to rescue him, leaving Danny entirely by himself in the house.
  • The Zorgons are very scary looking, and portrayed as big meat-eating creatures that look like dinosaurs.
  • The Zorgons search the house for the children, with the intention of eating them.
  • Danny tries to find the game in the basement and then in the Zorgon ship, where he is chased by Zorgons.
  • Everyone except Danny is pulled into a black hole (this situation comes right fairly quickly).

Young children could also be disturbed by the idea of the house being ‘in space’ with no parent there to look after the children.

From 8-13

Mostly children in this age group will be OK with the scenes in this movie. Some might be worried by the robot chasing Walter with intention of ‘destroying’ him.

Over 13

Children in this age group will probably not be scared by scenes in this movie.

Sexual references

The only mild sexual reference is a small interplay between father and daughter about the term ‘hook-up’. Only young pre-adolescents over 12 would understand this reference.

Alcohol, drugs and other substances

None

Nudity and sexual activity

None

Product placement

The astronaut drinks Coke.

Coarse language 

This movie contains infrequent, very mild coarse language.

Ideas to discuss with your children

Zathura: A Space Adventure will be enjoyed by both older children and adults. Although it is not aimed at teenagers, they will probably be able to watch it with some interest and not get bored. The acting is good, the special effects are impressive, and the idea of a game coming to life is an exciting one.

The main message in the movie is about positive sibling relationships and being proud of your individual strengths. The movie also presents values of teamwork and cooperation, tolerance, loyalty and trust, and caring for others.

You could talk with your child about these messages and also about how potentially disastrous it can be to blame others, to say or do things before really thinking about the consequences, and to make decisions when angry.