Australian Council on Children and the Media

Zathura: A Space Adventure

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Not recommended under 8, PG to 13 (Scary scenes. Themes)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Zathura: A Space Adventure
  • a review of Zathura: A Space Adventure completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 10 March 2006.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 8 Due to some scary scenes, this movie is not recommended for children under the age of eight, particularly preschoolers. Older children in this age bracket may be able to view this movie with some parental guidance.
Children aged 8-13 Due to the movieu2019s themes and scary scenes, parental guidance is recommended for children between the ages of 8-13, particularly those at the lower end of this age bracket
Children over the age of 13 Children over the age of 13 should be able to see this movie with or without parental guidance.

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Zathura: A Space Adventure
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mild scary scenes, Mild coarse language, Mild themes
Length 101 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Danny (Jonah Bobo), Walter (Josh Hutcherson) and Lisa (Kristen Stewart), whose parents are divorced, spend part of the time with their father (Tim Robbins) and part with their mother. Danny aged nearly seven, and Walter aged ten, fight all the time, with Danny believing that Walter is better than him at everything, and Walter constantly accusing Danny of cheating and refusing to play with him.

The boys are left in the care of their older teenage sister for a short while and, in the middle of yet another argument, Walter lowers Danny into the basement via the dumb waiter. The basement is dark and scary and while Danny is trying to get out of it, he finds the game Zathura: A Space Adventure. When Danny starts to play the game, they are transported into outer space and all sorts of exciting things happen. 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.

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There are a couple of violent scenes in this movie, including:

  • a big aggressive looking Robot chases Walter and tries to attack him with the intention of killing him.
  • once in outer space, the house is shot at by Zorgons.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above mentioned violent scenes, there are some scary scenes in this movie including:

  • the basement into which Walter lowers Danny is a big dark and creepy place with a ‘monster like’ furnace.
  • Lisa is cryogenically frozen. This looks scary, it also worries the boys as she is unable to help them and they are not sure if she is OK.
  • there is a short moment where Walter is sucked out into space and 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 dinosaur type creatures
  • the Zorgons board the house in search of the children because they want to eat them.
  • Danny goes to the basement and then the Zorgon ship to find the game. The Zorgons chase him.
  • everyone except Danny is pulled into a black hole (this resolves itself fairly quickly).
  • Young children could also be disturbed by the idea of the house being ‘in space’ with no parent there to look after them.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

Children in this age group may also be scared or disturbed by the above-mentioned scenes.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Mostly children aged eight to thirteen will be ok with the scenes in this movie, although some may be worried by the robot chasing Walter with intent to ‘destroy’.

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

There is nothing in this movie that would scare children over the age of thirteen.

Product placement

The astronaut drinks Coke.

Sexual references

The only mild sexual reference is a small interplay between father and daughter about the term ‘hook-up’ but only children older than 12 would recognise this.

Nudity and sexual activity

There is no nudity or sexual activity in this movie.

Use of substances

There is no use of substances in this movie.

Coarse language

Danny calls Walter a ‘dick’

In a nutshell

This movie’s main message is about positive sibling relationships. Also that everyone has individual strengths of which they can be proud, rather then trying to be good at everything that other people are.

Values parents may wish to encourage include:

  • teamwork and co-operation
  • tolerance
  • loyalty and trust
  • caring for others.

This movie could give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children the potentially disastrous consequences of blaming others, saying or doing things before really thinking about the consequences, and making decisions when angry.

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