Chapter Two: Jon Favreau & Kristen Stewart
New Moon, Iron Man 2 and Zathura
By Brett Beach
January 20, 2011
With only five main actors in the production, casting was crucial and Jonah Bobo and Josh Hutcherson ably anchor the film as the brothers. Not having grown up with a brother anywhere near my age, I speak not from experience but from observation when I say that the two work masterfully in capturing the exasperation and love (and exasperation!) that are a part of any sibling dynamic. The production design - in particular a giant malfunctioning robot - aims for a retro sci-fi of the kind that went out of fashion when the Space Race was just getting started, but Favreau mines it for more charm than he would have gotten from relying more on CGI.
I still consider it a shame that Zathura so quickly fell out of favor with the theater-going public. Its opening weekend actually bested Jumanji’s in raw dollars but in the different box-office world of 1995, Jumanji kept on trucking through December and well into spring 1996, concluding with a final multiplier of 9.0 and becoming a blockbuster by a few hundred thousand dollars. Opening in mid-November, Zathura made nearly half of its final $30 million take in its opening weekend and couldn’t even be saved with a boost from the Thanksgiving holiday.
And Stewart? She shows up in a small-ish supporting role as the older sister none too happy to be stuck at home keeping tabs on her brothers. She mostly has to react stunned when she realizes that they are indeed not on Planet Earth, but when roused before noon on a weekend, watch out! Her steely glare could send a shiver down even an undead Bella Swan’s spine.
Next time: I catch up with the film adaptation of another literary phenom, and check out Rooney Mara’s foreign counterpart in all her tattooed, fire-playing, hornet-nest kicking glory.