Zathura Jon Favreau

There's considerable craft invested in Zathura, but the finished product is so by the numbers that it's an investment largely wasted. Based on a children's book by Chris Van Allsburg (who also put everyone to work on Jumanji), it recycles the premise of a kids game that unleashes living fantasy; this time, two bickering brothers unearth the titular diversion only to find their house floating in space and beset by interstellar catastrophes. This, of course, gets the design and digital nerd crews working overtime to deliver a bang-up look and the results are nothing if not sumptuous and smooth-edged. But it's clear that much has been swiped from Spielberg and Lucas, to the point that the film can't establish its own identity. Indeed, everything from a sub-John Williams score to a scene in a furnace cribbed from Empire rings all too familiar, to say nothing of a teenage sister who's sacrificed to the masters' fear of "wom aen." While this won't bother the film's preteen constituency, it keeps the movie from being fun for anyone who's not a 12-year-old boy. Zathura has been made with loving care by people who've poured their energies in the wrong direction; you come away from the movie thinking, "if that's what they can do with nothing, imagine what they'd do with a script." But without that precious commodity, the movie is a luxuriant toy that makes a lot of noise and drives your parents crazy. Extras include a bright and cheery commentary by director Jon Favreau and co-producer Peter Billingsley, a couple of hyperbolic featurettes on the film's production and the cast, some more informative clips on the practical and digital effects, as well as the design of the game and a look at the mind of Chris Van Allsburg. (Sony)