(PG, 100 min) Starring Jonah Bobo, Josh Hutcherson, Dax Shepard, Tim Robbins, Kristen Stewart. Directed by Jon Farveau

Zathura: A Space Adventure spins a fantastical yarn about two brothers who are happily sitting around on a sunny afternoon playing a mechanical board game.

Adapted from the children's book by Chris Van Allsburg (Jumanji, The Polar Express), the story is pure popcorn entertainment and Jon Favreau's film is, almost literally, a blast. (After seeing it, children across the country will be asking for Zathura gamesets - available in shops soon.)

Bickering brothers Danny (Bobo) and Walter (Hutcherson) are upset when their father (Robbins) is called in to work, leaving them to their own devices. "You're going to leave us alone in this creepy, old house?" whines six-year-old Danny. "I like mom's house better," says ten-year-old Walter. "So did she. Now it's hers," Robbins replies dryly.

While older sister Lisa (Stewart) sleeps upstairs, supposedly in charge in their father's absence, Danny and Walter play a board game from the basement.

Danny goes first and the game spits out a card which says, "meteor shower, take evasive action". A deluge of molten rocks suddenly destroys the living room.

The boys survive by hiding in the fireplace. Afterwards, Danny and Walter discover they have been magicallypropelled into the furthest reaches of space, where an astronaut (Shepard) guides them through battles with the deadly Zorgons.

To return home, the boys must finish the game or be lost in space forever. Bobo and Hutcherson strike a pleasing balance between winsome and cute but the film's message - cherish your family - is laid on thick and blissful sibling harmony triumphs by the credits.

Zathura abides by its own peculiar laws of physics. When Danny and Walter first discover their house is in orbit, by opening the front door and walking outside on to what remains of the porch, gravity exists and they can breathe.

Yet minutes later, when the astronaut comes through the same door, he wears an oxygen helmet and spins in zero gravity.

By the finale, the house has been mysteriously de-pressurised, causing the entire contents - kids, et al - to be sucked into the inky void outside.

A major plot twist, suggesting a kink in the space-time continuum, this is never rationalised. Not that it matters.

Director Favreau puts the film into hyperdrive from the start and never looks back, orchestrating a fight with a malfunctioning robot and an explosive showdown with the Zorgon motherships. Despite the terrible name, this is solid family entertainment.