Jon Favreau is now firmly entrenched as one of the crown jewels in the Disney empire and a genuine Hollywood power player, but his road to the top hasn’t been easy. He may have kicked off the Marvel Cinematic Universe with Iron Man, delivered arguably the Mouse House’s best ever live-action remake with The Jungle Book, steered The Lion King to the position of seventh highest-grossing movie of all-time and launched the expansion of Star Wars onto streaming with The Mandalorian, but it hasn’t all been plain sailing.
Elf might’ve been a critical and commercial success that’s since become a staple of holiday season viewing, but his next movie sank without a trace at the box office. Based on the book by Jumanji author Chris Van Allsburg and technically connected to the beloved 1995 family film, Zathura: A Space Adventure didn’t even manage to recoup the $65 million budget in theaters.
However, reviews were full of praise for the inventive sci-fi adventure, and it’s since come to be regarded as something of an underappreciated gem. In terms of the critical consensus, it’s the highest-rated installment in the extended Jumanji franchise on both Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic, while Zathura has also now found a second life on Netflix since being added to the content library this month.
The 2005 space opera, which stars Kristen Stewart, Josh Hutcherson and Dax Shepard, follows two kids left in the care of their teenage sister after their dad is called into work, so they decide to play the titular board game. So far, so Jumanji, but Zathura quickly pivots into sci-fi territory by rocketing their entire house into outer space, where they encounter an astronaut who helps them in their quest to return home.
You can understand why it’s proving so popular on Netflix, too, delivering spectacle for younger viewers and a solid story for older folks to invest in. It’s just a shame it’s taken sixteen years for it to find the audience it deserved the first time around.