City of Ember

by Alan Rapp on October 10, 2008

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: City of Ember
  • IMDB: link

“In the city of Ember, the sky was always dark.  The city of Ember was old, and everything in it, including the power lines, was in need of repair.”

Hollywood has a thing for kids saving the day.  From Hoot to WarGames, in films it seems the only ones paying attention to upcoming disaster are the next generation.  In this same vein comes City of Ember.

For more than 200 years the city of Ember has substained life.  Now the generator which keeps the underground city lit has begun to fail and it falls to two young tweens (Saorise Ronan, Harry Treadway) to save the day.

Like most films about kids saving the world the film is a bit of a mixed bag.  The story, adapted from the Jeanne DuPrau novel, allows for some imaginative set design teen adventure, but doesn’t offer much more than an amusing ride.

Over the course of the tale we learn that children pick their life-long professions out of a sack at the age of 12, the mayor (Bill Murray) knows more about the increasing power losses than he’s saying, and that most adults (as in most films like this) have absolutely no idea what is going on.

Rated PG the film is geared more to kids and teens than adults, although a couple of monster sequences spaced throughout the film seem more geared to a horror movie than a family picture and could very easily frighten young children.

The cast includes many familiar faces including Tim Robbins, Martin Landau, and Toby Jones, but its the two teenage leads who do the majority of the work in carrying the film.  The script doesn’t ask them to do too much, and fills the screen with a fantasy world and some elaborate stunt sequences which seem to suggest the strong possibility of a theme park ride inspired by the film.

Although the film only has a running time of 95 minutes it seems longer.  Adults may grow bored, but older children and teens may find the adventure and the small spark of imagination enough to keep their interest.

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