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Zathura: A Space Adventure

Movie review by
Cynthia Fuchs, Common Sense Media
Zathura: A Space Adventure Movie Poster Image
Sci-fi adventure has salty language, peril, violence.
  • PG
  • 2005
  • 113 minutes
Popular with kids

Parents say

age 8+
Based on 30 reviews

Kids say

age 8+
Based on 56 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Movie attempts to address sibling rivalry: Despite how the two brothers are constantly at each other's throats, they learn they should treat each other much better and look out for each other.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The two brothers learn to appreciate and look out for each other. The teen girl is a stereotype: She sleeps in and refuses to be woken up by anyone else in her family, is boy-crazy, sullen, and doesn't undergo any significant character development over the course of the movie. 


Spaceships are armed with guns and futuristic missiles; lizardish space aliens are menacing; crazed robot attacks boys; meteors and space weapons blow up the boys' house/spaceship. Frequent explosions, peril. Three siblings are constantly fighting -- a teen sister punches her younger brother in the face; two brothers are constantly chasing each other, tackling each other, calling each other names. 


Teenaged sister wears a tight top in preparation for her night out; she develops a crush on a character who turns out to be her younger brother at a later age and remarks, "And I wanted to ... " when she discovers the truth. 


Minor language, including kids' use of "d---k," "screwed," "ass," and "bee-yatch." An astronaut makes reference to passing through a "time sphincter." A teen girl develops a crush on an older astronaut; when it's revealed that the astronaut comes from the future and is her younger brother, she remarks, "And I wanted to ... " without articulating the clear sexual insinuation. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Zathura; A Space Adventure is a 2005 movie in which an old board game found in the basement of a newly occupied house leads to fierce space battles and extreme peril from lizard-like aliens with a taste for human flesh. The movie begins with typical tensions, resentments, and competitions between two brothers, age 6 and 10. Their father is divorced, and their teenaged sister is distracted by her interest in boys and parties. The film includes scary music, scary sound effects (crashes, explosions, alien-monster growls), and some images of space aliens and a big robot attacking the boys that might be frightening for younger viewers. Boys use some obnoxious language ("d--k," "screwed") and violence against the aliens to save themselves. The teen girl develops a crush on an older astronaut; when he's revealed to be her brother from the future, her first response is, "And I wanted to ... ." The movie does attempt to address sibling rivalries, the self-esteem issues that can develop, and the importance of two brothers learning to look out for each other. 

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byJenPete April 9, 2008

Language, violence unbefitting PG rating

Think "Jumanji" but with a space theme. It's a good basic story. Unfortunately Hollywood got its mits on it. Is the B word (think female dog) now... Continue reading
Adult Written bykathyg1 April 17, 2017


Our ten year old was transfixed. Thrilling adventure with some good family values in there as an added bonus. Too scary for younger kids. 9 or 10 would be ok ge... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byNinjaHokie99 May 26, 2018

Well Done!

This was a fun family movie. It was well acted and funny. It was similar to Jumanji, but the board game was much better. Plus, there was next to no romance, and... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byannielavigne April 15, 2018

Very good story

I was impressed by this film. We watched it with our 12 and 13 year old daughters, who also liked it a lot. There is a strong story of sibling rivalry and a cle... Continue reading

What's the story?

Six-year-old Danny (Jonah Bobo) is feeling rather shut out by his older brother, Walter (Josh Hutcherson), who in turn feels besieged by the demands of a sibling who dotes on him. Older and wiser and increasingly impatient, Walter just wants to be left alone, especially as he's also feeling abandoned by his dad (Tim Robbins), who's working overtime to pay for two homes and is recently divorced. The boys find distraction in Zathura, a circa-1950s board game they find in the basement when Dad goes to the office and leaves them in the care of their teenaged sister, Lisa (Kristen Stewart). The game essentially turns their house into a spaceship, floating through the starry sky somewhere near Saturn, buffeted by the occasional meteor shower or malevolent alien. Once they begin the game, the rules assert, Danny and Walter are unable to stop until they "finish," meaning that they need to find the reason they're playing, and, of course, reconcile with each other.

Is it any good?

ZATHURA: A SPACE ADVENTURE is a movie most likely to appeal to older kids. Like the game in Jumanji, another movie based on a children's book by Chris Van Allsburg (also the literary source for Polar Express), this one helps the siblings to work out their conflicts "metaphorically," here by encounters with hostile monsters, a deranged robot, and a "stranded astronaut" (Dax Shepard).

Their adventures are as episodic as the board game scenario suggests: Each boy takes his turn. But as Jon Favreau's movie is most interested in the boys' relationship, Lisa is best described as plot device, convenient witness, and occasional instigator for their realizations and efforts. In this, she's aided by the astronaut, who shows up during Danny's turn (he's instructed to rescue this stranger and then is attached to the astronaut, who identifies Danny as the one who "spun me"). This provides the younger boy with an eventual conflict, as the astronaut and Walter make different demands. Danny eventually comes to realize that Walter is his brother, no matter how ugly he's been to Danny in the past, and that makes him, as the astronaut observes, "all you have."

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the relationship between the two brothers. How do they learn to appreciate and take care of each other?

  • What are some of the ways in which sibling rivalry is shown? Does it seem like an accurate reflection of how it is when two brothers are constantly at war? 

  • While some of the violence is sci-fi-related, some of it is rooted in the rivalries between the siblings. How was the violence different, and how did the violence in both serve to either heighten the action or intensify the relationships between the siblings? 

Movie details

Themes & Topics

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