Directed by Jon Favreau, starring Jonah Bobo, Josh Hutcherson, Dax Shepard, Kristen Stewart and Tim Robbins. 

While reawakening the delights that most of us will remember from the movies that speckled our childhood, 'Zathura' is so clichéd that only children will find the mystery and fantasy behind the story entertaining.

The plot is relatively simple, more so if you've seen 'Jumanji'. A family is struggling to cope with a divorce and the children are abandoning each other rather than uniting to cope with the new challenges that life is throwing at them. Six-year-old Danny (Bobo) wants his brother, Walter (Hutcherson), to treat him like a friend. His brother resents Danny for diverting the attention of his father from his sporting prowess while their older sister Lisa (Stewart) just wants to fulfil every 16-year-old stereotype that we've ever seen at the cinema. 

When his brother won't play with him Danny finds an old board game in the basement (this sounds vaguely familiar now doesn't it?) and decides to play it without reading the rules or instructions. As a result the three children, and their house are sucked into a galactic quest where they must rely on each other in order to survive to the finish line at the Black Planet. 

Of course this is not what happens as they bicker and squabble over how they should play the game. When their house is almost destroyed by a renegade robot and a bunch of crazed, lizard-like Zorgons, they are rescued by a mysterious astronaut (Shepard) who has been trapped in the game for 15 years (no, not Robin Williams). 

The action and effects are absolutely top-notch but the least that we could have expected from the makers of 'Jumanji' was for them to add a new facet to the plot. The only real difference from the 'Jumanji' storyline is so sugar coated that you may feel sickly for some time after the final credits roll. 

The cast are, as you would expect, all relative newcomers with the exception of the father (Robbins). Some will recognise Sheppard from his role in 'Without a Paddle' or 'Sledge: The Untold Story'. Others may be confused by his resemblance to 'Scrubs' star Zach Braff.   

'Zathura' suffers for the fact that 'Jumanji' came before it and highlights its complete lack of originality. Children will love it, regardless of its flaws, and it will serve to keep many entertained as a Saturday TV movie in the years to come.

Patrick Kennedy