City of Ember Reviews
In the end it's a coming-of-age movie full of obvious metaphors, allegory, themes and a cast of two dimensional characters that represent them.
It's not bad, a pretty decent entry-level into the SciFi genre for younger generations. But I suppose the inaccessibility of the movie for us "old" folks brought about its own demise.
The Futuristic Story Tale of
in September 14, 2088 A.D of the Future., A Nuclear War. The builders of Ember left instructions to the mayors in a box that would open by itself. Unfortunately, one of the mayors died without telling someone what the box was and it got tossed into a closet, where it was forgotten for generations.
The year is September 18, 2416 A.D of the Future. After the War. Lina Mayfleet, and Doon Harrow are two children in Ember who find themselves on a mission to save their dying city. The city's lights are beginning to flicker and food supplies are running out.
Doon lands a job at the Pipeworks where he wants to try to repair the failing generator. Lina's job is simple - she is a messenger, but she soon finds herself in over her head when she discovers the box of instructions left by the builders so long ago.
Doon and she find themselves on a wild adventure when they discover the way out of Ember, but corrupt officials and a treacherous mayor stand against their wish to save the city. With courage and heart they brave the darkness - all to help their fellow citizens escape the dying city.
Based on the novel by Jeanne Duprau, it tells the story of Lina (Ronan) and Doon (Treadaway) who live in an underground city named 'Ember'. It is lit only by electric lamps, whose inhabitants have no light sources. The darkness beyond their city hold unknown things and possible salvation, so they decide to find a way out, as 'Ember' is falling to pieces and what little power supply they have left, is running out.
There is next to nothing to recommend here, with the one exception being a nice and almost unrecognisable appearance from Martin Landau. What the hell Tim Robbins and Bill Murray where thinking of by getting involved in this stinker, I'll never know. They are way above this tedious nonsense.
One for definite avoidance unless your suffering a bout of insomnia.
The design of the film is great, but as in design, the beauty is found in the details.
For the most part, the casting is on target; Saoirse Ronan seems a lot more engaging and appealing here than she did just in Atonement, and Harry Treadway, although looking like a refugee from High School Musical, is just as impressive. Tim Robbins is excellent in a small, but pivotal role, as is Martin Landau (whatever became of him?) as the requisite old-guy-who-sort-of-knows-stuff. The only puzzling casting is that of Bill Murray as the town's jovial mayor; he seems glib and cheerful enough, but it almost feels like he's being ironic, rather than being a part of the story. Often, this sort of approach makes for a hammy performance, but Murray's too subtle here for pure hamminess; he's more like a square peg in a round hole.
Still, it's this in combination with a terrific set (but lousy cgi towards the end)that get this one over the top as a cautionary tale - where too much belief in authority (or a "savior") ends up with entropy and decay.
I found Bill Murray to be delightful as the corrupt mayor, and Tim Robbins to have this type of charactor (the everyman with a wink in his eye that tells you he knows more than he's letting on) down to a science.
As far as fantasies go, this on is at least on par with most of the rest I've seen in the past several years, and while not standing head and shoulders above the swill, it at least doesn't wallow with them.
The fantasy genre is one of my favourite genres. In that genre, the viewer gets a chance to leave the world of today and experience something else. Something different. 'City of Ember' exceeded all of my expectations, I thoroughly enjoyed it, flaws and all.
The city of Ember was built as a refuge place for humanity and it is powered by a massive generator. But the problem is that it will only sustain for 200 years. Now Ember is falling into darkness as the generator is failing. A metal box is found in the darkest corner of a house whose residents are the descendants of past city mayors. Lina, a young girl and her grandmother are sure that the content of the box is important and may bring a solution to the inevitable end of the city... and humanity?
'City of Ember' has an original script that was truly entertaining. It starts of interesting and doesn't have any pacing problems of any sort. But when the movie ends, I got this feeling of "That's it? What now?". Of course this is a good thing in a way, leaving the viewer to imagine the future of the characters and the described world.
The cast does an amazing job. Saoirse Ronan and Harry Treadaway are two young actors that may have a bright future ahead of 'em. Bill Murray continues his stranger-than-we've-used-to roles and manages to pull it of, once again. Maybe he should've left comedy a bit earlier than what he did? And see what Martin Landau managed to do? A very enjoyable performance and proof of him being very much "in the game".
The visual image of the film is very good. I enjoyed the feeling that they managed to get in to the movie. Haven't really seen anything like this before. Does remind me a bit of different movies but still it looks very original.
'City of Ember' is a film that didn't succeed at the box office. But I can say that far more worse films are out there. This film may not be for everyone though. Some may say that it's boring or that it doesn't have enough content to be a good feature film. I say that it is a good fantasy film for the elderly teens and the mature audience. For something different, 'City of Ember' may be a good choice for you.
Monster House director Gil Kenan takes the helm for this children's fantasy about two young heroes who attempt to solve an ancient mystery in time to prevent their underground city from being swallowed by darkness. The City of Ember was built over 200 year ago, deep below the earth, where the destruction of a mass-scale disaster couldn't reach it. Equipped with a massive generator and vast supplies, the people of Ember have thrived happily for generations -- but the city wasn't meant to be lived in forever. The generator is breaking down and the supplies are running out, but two centuries in isolation have robbed the Emberites of their knowledge -- nobody knows how the electric lights work anymore, and nobody understands that there's something beyond the city besides darkness. Nobody, that is, besides Lina (Saoirse Ronan) and Doon (Harry Treadaway), two teenagers who still have the hope that everyone else has lost to ignorance and apathy -- not to mention a sheet of instructions left by the Builders themselves explaining how to leave the city. But the 200-year-old paper is falling apart, and pieces are missing. So with the lights threatening to flicker out for the last time and leave Ember in darkness forever, Lina and Doon set out on an adventure through the streets, sewers, and dark caverns of Ember to put the pieces back together. To solve the mystery, they'll have to get inside the Builders' heads, and avoid the grasp of corrupt Mayor Cole (Bill Murray), who wants to keep Ember the way it is -- no matter what the cost.
The film is a delightful, if contrived, fairytale littered with predictable characters and an easily anticipated ending. A naive freshness runs through the story, with high-level corruption limited to stealing sardines. One sees many metaphor opportunities that the director opted to imply rather than explore. A number of pointless action scenes would have been better left on the editing floor. This is a sweet film with unrealized narrative potential. One wishes the director had banged the script through the keyboard a few more times and moved the irrelevant mole to a different film. (This is not a Bill Murray comedy.) If one enjoys fairy tales, this film is worth a view.