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.
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.
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.
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.