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.
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When mankind is about to come to an end, a group of scientists decide to create and populate a city deep underground. The city of Ember is to last for 200 years after which its inhabitants are to retrieve from a strong box instructions to return to the surface. Over time however, the message is lost and life in Ember is rapidly deteriorating. Their power supply is failing and food is being rationed. It's left to two young adults to unearth the secret of Ember and to lead the way out.Written by
(at around 29 mins) When Looper gives Lina a message for the mayor, he says: "Your ship is in." In Ember they don't know what a boat or a ship is, because all the knowledge of the world above has been lost. So you might think it odd that they might know the meaning of a phrase like 'your ship is in'. But the English of today contains many phrases which are perfectly well understood despite people not knowing their origins or even the meanings of words in the phrase (eg "hoist by your own petard"), so it's actually quite normal. See more »
"City of Ember", director Gil Kenan's follow up to his horror-lite for preteens "Monster House", is a fun ride that's well worth the admission price if only for the superb production design and the likable leads.
Lina Mayfleet (Saoirse Ronan) and Doon Harrow (Harry Treadaway) are two of the inhabitants of the City of Ember - an underground city designed to house humans for two centuries as an unspecified disaster takes place on the surface. But as the 200 years have passed, the generator that powers the city gradually falters, causing more frequent blackouts and scarce provisions.
When no one would listen to them, especially the city mayor - Mayor Cole (the effective yet underused Bill Murray) - it then becomes up to Lina and Doon to find the exit that leads to the surface, which is infinitely easier in theory than in practice, considering the plethora of puzzles and riddles they would have to solve.
Without having read the film's source material - Jeanne Duprau's novel - there's no way I can say if the script holds up to the narrative of its literary counterpart, but here's where the film mainly falters. The film feels like a rushed end product crammed to fit within the confines of a typical family flick. Exposition is kept in the sidelines and character development seems more of a ploy to advance the plot than genuine attempts in sculpting something more than cardboard-cut supporting characters.
But despite the narrative faults, Kenan imbues such a magical quality to the dank environment. And for a film lacking impressive turns from its more mature and established actors (including Tim Robbins as Doon's father), upcoming stars Ronan and Treadaway's animated performances save the day, right from a sweeping introduction of the claustrophobic city to a touching finale that finally affirms the characters' quest for light amidst the darkness.
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