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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Zathura - A Space Adventure [Blu-ray]

 

(Jon Favreau, 2005)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Columbia Pictures Corporation

Video: Sony Home Video

 

Disc:

Region: FREE! (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:41:20.074

Disc Size: 33,883,464,809 bytes

Feature Size: 27,244,861,440 bytes

Video Bitrate: 25.87 Mbps

Chapters: 16

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: June 28th, 2011

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

DTS-HD Master Audio English 3740 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3740 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Dolby Digital Audio French 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio Japanese 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio Portuguese 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio Spanish 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio Thai 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / Dolby Surround

 

Subtitles:

English (SDH), Arabic, Chinese, Dutch, French, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish, Thai, none

 

Extras:

• Commentary with Jon Favreau and  co-producer Peter Billingsley

Race Through Space Virtual Board game (2-player virtual board game to see who can reach Zathura first by answering trivia questions along with such hazards as meteor showers etc.)

• Seven Featurettes: (total - 1:32:40 - SD - Race to the Black Planet, The Right Moves: The Making of Zathura, The Cast of Zathura, Miniatures and the World of Zathura, The World of Chris Van Allsburg, Zorgons, Robots and Frozen Lisa and Making the Game)

• Previews (standard Sony Blu-ray advert)

Second disc DVD included

 

Bitrate:

 

 

Description: Two brothers discover an oblong box in the park, which they dismiss as "just some dumb old game." The boys turn their... attention away from the game's "jungle adventure" board to discover a second game board inside with an outer-space theme and a colored path leading to the purple planet, Zathura. Mayhem ensues each time one of the boys draws a game card or rolls the dice. Facing meteors and giant robots, the brothers begin to appreciate each other and their sibling rivalry dissolves.

 

 

The Film:

There are similarities to Jumanji - both based on books by Chris Van Allsburg - in the sense that it is about a magical board game. Left in dad's new (old) house for a couple of hours in the care of sulky teenage Lisa (Kristen Stewart), who can't be arsed to get out of bed, Danny finds the Zathura box, hidden away in the basement. It is a Thirties clockwork race game, in which two tin spaceships take turns to advance along a tramline track. Wherever they stop a Z card pops up and the player receives a bonus, or forfeit. In fact, what happens is that the house has been transported into space, at the mercy of the Z cards, and no one goes home until somebody wins the game.

This sounds too stupid for words, but it's not. For one thing, it stops Walter and Danny from killing each other and freezes Lisa into a solid block of ice and introduces The Astronaut (Dax Shepard, who must be Zach Braff of Scrubs's half brother), who helps them out.

Excerpt from Eye For Film located HERE

 

Like its sister picture, 1995's Jumanji, Zathura is based on a Chris Van Allsburg picture book about two siblings drawn bodily into the perilous world of a vintage board game. Unlike Jumanji (or last year's The Polar Express, another Van Allsburg adaptation), Zathura isn't concerned with breaking any new ground in the field of visual effects; it trusts Van Allsburg's storytelling instead of trying to amp up the whispering vividness of his artistry. The tale is simple enough: Squabbling brothers Danny (Jonah Bobo) and Walter (Josh Hutcherson) must learn teamwork in order to navigate their house back from the far reaches of the galaxy.

Excerpt from Entertainment Weekly located HERE

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

Reasonably solid image from Sony on their Zathura Blu-ray. Of course, a big portion of the visual appeal is the effects which look impressive in 1080P. There may have been some boosting and it is a shade glossier than I usually like. There are some strong golden yellow and blue hues. Skin tones seem quite warm at times but contrast exhibits healthy black levels. There isn't much depth on the dual-layered transfer. I have not seen the film previously so it is hard to know what the film was like theatrically but it advances handily beyond the included SD-DVD. I was pleased with my viewing but again, the effects may have been a big part of that. To me the transfer looked pretty good.

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

Audio is the strong suit here for the transfer with a robust DTS-HD Master 5.1 at 3740 kbps. There is notable separation and some heavy bass that almost drown out dialogue. This has a clean sound and prolific composer John Debney (work from Chicken Little to Sin City and The Passion of the Christ) has a score that sounds just right with crisp overtones and a pleasing supportive arrangement. There are plenty of optional subtitle choices and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.

 

Extras :

Extras mostly mimic the 2006 DVD with the decent commentary with director Favreau and co-producer Peter Billingsley. They work well together with Favreau taking the lead and much of the discussion is production-based with some interesting details on casting and working with the young guys. New is the Race Through Space Virtual Board game. A 2-player virtual board game to see who can reach Zathura first by answering trivia questions along with such hazards as meteor showers etc. Included are the previous seven featurettes from the last DVD running a total of 1:32:40 entitled and dealing with the production topics Race to the Black Planet, The Right Moves: The Making of Zathura, The Cast of Zathura, Miniatures and the World of Zathura, The World of Chris Van Allsburg, Zorgons, Robots and Frozen Lisa and Making the Game. The last DVD appears to be included in the package as a supplementary disc.

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
I had never seen Zathura before and, yeah, it was kinda cute and fun. My kids liked it. The effects were quite pleasing, actually - occasionally stunning, and it had decent pace. The interaction of the brothers is key to the tone and I thought this was a super young-adult adventure. The Sony Blu-ray is strong with a robust transfer in both audio and video. Extras are also abundant and lastly - the price is sure right - so that, my friends, is a recommendation! 

Gary Tooze

June 22nd, 2011

 


 

About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 3500 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze

 

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