City of Ember
Plot Rating: 5/5
This is a beautifully imagined film. Nothing mold-breaking, but it has this wonderful feel of an ABC Wonderful World of Disney film (for those of you old enough to remember when networks did original programming).
Ember was a city built in order to sustain a large population underground during a mysterious apocalypse that is never expained (City of Ember is part one in a book series, so the story is probably clarified there). Passed down through the mayors of Ember was a mysterious metal box with a timed lock set for 200 years. But, with only a few decades left, the mayor took the box home and then died suddenly. The box opened without fanfair, buried under old junk in a closet.
The story takes place a couple of generations later and centers around Lina Mayfleet, the mayor’s great-granddaughter, and her friend Doon Harrow. As Ember begins to fall apart at the seems and the massive generator powering the city becomes unstable the box is found by Lina. Inside she finds a set of directions (torn to shreds by her baby sister) that indicate the Builders created some way out of Ember into the now-unknown world.
It is a wonderfully imagined story and there are no dull moments. Ember is not shown as some kind of impressive city, but is covered in rust and grime, and everything down to the clothes have a look of ware and tare. No detail is spared. I really can’t say enough good things about this movie.
Acting Score: 5/5
While there are bigger names like Bill Murray (very subdued and in no way comedic for a change) and Tim Robbins, the movie centers primarily around young Saoirse Ronan (Lina) and Harry Treadaway (Doon). Ronan does a particularly incredible job with a very emotionally driven character and Treadaway, while a bit rough in parts, is still impressive.
Age Rating: Meh/5
I can imagine 5 year olds being fine with the movie and my mom loves it, so even at the 50 year mark it’s still entertaining. It is an exciting movie, and there is some minor scary content, but children’s shows these days are more violent and scary (Power Rangers~).
“Ember” is Hungarian for “Man” and “Human”.
Screenwriter Caroline Thompson traditionally works with Tim Burton (though she did not on this piece).
Film rights to “City of Sparks”, the sequal, have been purchased, but considering the relatively poor box office results of “City of Ember” it is still undecided if a film will actually be made.
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