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City of Ember (2008)



Average Rating: 5.7/10
Reviews Counted: 124
Fresh: 66 | Rotten: 58

City of Ember is visually arresting, and boasts a superb cast, but is sadly lacking in both action and adventure.


Average Rating: 6/10
Critic Reviews: 32
Fresh: 20 | Rotten: 12

City of Ember is visually arresting, and boasts a superb cast, but is sadly lacking in both action and adventure.



liked it
Average Rating: 3.2/5
User Ratings: 63,553

My Rating

Movie Info

For generations, the people of the City of Ember have flourished in an amazing world of glittering lights. But Ember's once powerful generator is failing... and the great lamps that illuminate the city are starting to flicker. Now, two teenagers in a race against time, must search Ember for clues that will unlock the ancient mystery of the city's existence, and help the citizens escape before the lights go out forever.

Jan 20, 2009


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All Critics (129) | Top Critics (33) | Fresh (66) | Rotten (58) | DVD (9)

It's an unfortunate end to a promising movie.

November 10, 2008 Full Review Source: At the Movies
At the Movies
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Ultimately, it didn't move me in any way.

November 10, 2008 Full Review Source: At the Movies
At the Movies
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Even if it occasionally goes off course, City of Ember provides audiences with a thought-provoking and family-friendly adventure.

October 10, 2008 Full Review Source: USA Today
USA Today
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A thrilling adventure tale and teen fantasy that is grounded in real concerns about who is managing the planet.

October 10, 2008 Full Review Source: Toronto Star
Toronto Star
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Though City of Ember is a bit hurried in execution, this first live-action film by director Gil Kenan has the subterranean feel of a dream being described.

October 10, 2008 Full Review Source: Seattle Times
Seattle Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The story, based on Jeanne Duprau's novel of the same name, is beautifully constructed. It builds until it reaches the point that it's one edge-of-your-seat moment after another.

October 10, 2008 Full Review Source: San Francisco Chronicle
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A lot of thought and effort has been put into City of Ember but the whole is never more than the sum of its parts. It wants to be an adventure story and a fable and a mystery all at the same time and never quite decides what it is.

March 18, 2011 Full Review Source:

One of the best family films of the year...if you like your kid movies with a little more bruising than normal.

June 2, 2010 Full Review Source:

Built upon a bedrock of dazzling and richly constructed sets -- think Dr. Seuss meets Jules Verne meets Mad Max -- and complemented by rock-solid storytelling, it's an enormously enjoyable family film.

September 4, 2009 Full Review Source: Times-Picayune

Ultimately, this journey to rekindle the fire of humanity fails to burn bright enough, leaving only the unpleasant taste of ashes.

May 12, 2009 Full Review Source: SFX Magazine
SFX Magazine

A shaky platform of sense but the visual genius is so great, the film must be seen.

January 14, 2009 Full Review Source: Cinema Signals | Comment (1)
Cinema Signals

In addition to being fascinating and exciting, City of Ember invites its young viewers to constantly ask questions and never give up.

January 13, 2009 Full Review Source: Apollo Guide
Apollo Guide

Tween audiences should be awestruck, and the message of audacity in the face of orthodoxy feels genuinely heroic.

December 12, 2008 Full Review Source: MovieTime, ABC Radio National
MovieTime, ABC Radio National

Murray playing the glutton doesn't exactly fit the bill and for all the architectural care that's gone into Ember's creation, the secret at its heart is no mystery to us, the audience.

December 12, 2008 Full Review Source: Sydney Morning Herald
Sydney Morning Herald

Murray is always good to have around, and so are Tim Robbins, who plays Doon's defeated father, and Martin Landau as one of the drones who tries to keep the city in working order. The young actors are excellent.

December 12, 2008 Full Review Source: The Australian
The Australian

An extraordinary children's adventure...

December 10, 2008 Full Review Source: FILMINK (Australia)
FILMINK (Australia)

Although it starts slowly, there are plenty of rewards in this well crafted family fantasy adventure, as it explores a world in which light bulbs form the sky and a powerful generator acts as its heartbeat.

December 4, 2008 Full Review Source: Urban Cinefile | Comment (1)
Urban Cinefile

This well-designed and executed piece of entertainment is actually very satisfying.

December 1, 2008 Full Review Source: At the Movies (Australia)
At the Movies (Australia)

Pure escapism fun, with plenty of stark visuals and inventiveness to go around.

November 20, 2008 Full Review Source:

The best family movie you never heard of is waiting for you to discover it.

October 23, 2008 Full Review
Quad City Times (Davenport, IA)

This is a movie with a very specific target audience %u2013 young people who've read the book %u2013 and it will play solely to that demographic.

October 22, 2008 Full Review Source:

Richly detailed setting does not overcome haphazard, amusement-park ride plotting.

October 21, 2008 Full Review Source: Cinema Sight
Cinema Sight

Visually accomplished but dramatically mundane.

October 18, 2008 Full Review Source: Screen International
Screen International

Enjoyable fantasy adventure, enlivened by interesting characters, strong performances and an engaging premise.

October 18, 2008 Full Review Source: ViewLondon

Audience Reviews for City of Ember

This is a great kids film that adults can also enjoy. It totally passed me by when it was released, I'd never heard of the books either but I'm not sure why. It is well written and has a great cast. The production is something quite special, although I can't help but think that Jean-Pierre Jeunet, Marc Caro and Darius Khondji should be credited as it all looks very familiar to their combined work. A very pleasant find though and recommended to all.
December 23, 2013

Super Reviewer

An uninspiring tale that just limply moves on with no real conviction. seen much better familly dramas!
September 28, 2013
Film Crazy

Super Reviewer

Gil Kenan's adaptation of Jeanne Duprau's book, City of Ember, leaves the occasional blackout.It's a brief 90 minutes to reach its conclusion, and while this film is a quick draw because of that, the lack of extensive details really hurt in the second half. The first part of the story works well with the character and setting development; however, the pace ends up too fast for its own good by the time the ending comes around.Despite classification in the fantasy genre, there isn't much reliance on effects. What's there is passable, but it's nice to watch a film like this without the overdose of CG.Award winning acting cannot be found here, yet everyone gets by. Saoirse Ronan is actually a delight on screen with her lively personality.City of Ember has its ups and downs, and with that said the positives outweigh the negatives, thus making it a recommendable picture.
August 29, 2013
JY Skacto

Super Reviewer

It's a weird movie. But wasn't boring. Watchable.
February 17, 2012
Dead Angel

Super Reviewer

    1. Mayor Cole: Mayfleet! That's a name for a messenger! May your feet be fleet.
    – Submitted by Anders M (2 years ago)
    1. Doon Harrow: What does this do?
    2. Sul: I don't know. That's not my job.
    – Submitted by Anders M (2 years ago)
    1. Lina Mayfleet: If this is a potato, then I'm 16 and sexy.
    – Submitted by Facebook U (3 years ago)
View all quotes (3)

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Foreign Titles

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  • En Busca de la Luz (ES)
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