Book vs. Movie: “Zathura”

In these posts, I look at a book that was turned into a movie and compare the two against each other! Which one is better? Which would I recommend? Read the post and find out!

Chris Van Allsburg


On the last page of the Caldecott-winning book Jumanji, young Danny Budwing is seen running after his brother, Walter, with a game tucked under his arm. Now after twenty years, Chris Van Allsburg is ready to reveal what happens when Danny and Walter roll the dice. This time the name of the game is Zathura and the battling Budwing boys are in for the ride of their lives.

Zathura unleashes intergalactic challenges that require even the quarreling Budwing brothers to work as a team.


This book directly continues from “Jumanji” the book. I won’t explain exactly how, unless the read the synopsis hehe. This little bit of addition and connection to the first book made me enjoy it more so than I would have on its own. Van Allsburg artwork is superb in this, as it was in “Jumanji”. This book has a simplistic nature about it, that made me enjoy it a lot. The plot was dead on what I would expect from a space exploration game come to life. I also rather enjoyed the ending to this game, as it felt like what most people think of when they think about space and what it could all be attached to or not. This book simply was exactly what I would have wanted from it and I can see any child enjoying this being read to them by their parents.

Dax Shepard, Josh Hutcherson, Kristen Stewart, Tim Robbins, and more


Brothers, Walter and Danny, find a board game in their basement that is all about space exploration. Once the game starts they realize there is no going back. They have to explore the great cosmos! 


There were so many additional elements in this film that were not in the picture book. The film adds in a sister character that is played by Kristen Stewart that adds a lot to the film and also Dax Shepard plays a lost astronaut in this that is supposed to add something to the film as well. While I enjoyed Shepard in his role, overall the character and his purpose in the film felt flat for me. This took away from my overall enjoyment of the film. 

The visuals and atmosphere of the film were spot on. It felt like a wonderful adventure in space for two kids that did not want to be there. This is a core element even within the book, but it just felt badly done. This could have been a strong movie, but it just felt poorly executed overall. It felt less than what I would expect for a film that was saying it was in the same world as the original “Jumanji” film. There was also a way to connect it from the picture books and this was not utilized. It made me say “well, that was something I watched” and did not have a deep connection to the film, like I had with the original “Jumanji” film. 



When I put the two against each other, there is a clear winner. The book is superior. All the elements that make the book fun are either over done in the film or removed in a way that takes away from the enjoyment of watching it. I wanted to enjoy the film, but all the added elements that they added in it were just not executed well. Some were too predictable and some were just horrible choices overall. It felt like they were making a film just to make a “sequel” to “Jumanji” and they just didn’t do it well enough to me. I would love to see them redo this film correctly, but I doubt that this will occur anytime soon. The film had promise, but the book just is so much better. It is simplistic, it is connected to the original book, and it just is a funner ride. This vs. was so much easier than the last one because of these important differences between the two.


The elements that should have made the film better simply do not do that. The book is beautifully illustrated, simplistic in story, and connects us to the original in a way that makes it a pleasure to read. The book would be a wonderful addition to any child’s library and I can see it becoming an instant favorite for a child to want their parent to read to them over and over again.

2 Replies to “Book vs. Movie: “Zathura””

    • Cassie Post author

      It just doesn’t stand up to “Jumanji” by any means. Glad I could inform you of its existence. 🙂 Thanks for visiting Jenn!


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