City of Ember

City of Ember

4.4 23
Director: Gil Kenan

Cast: Gil Kenan, Saoirse Ronan, Harry Treadaway, Bill Murray

     
 

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…  See more details below

Overview

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.

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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide
A fun and moving family film with a subtly dark feel rarely seen in kids' movies since the '80s, City of Ember succeeds despite its shortcomings not only because of its fun and inspiring story, but because most of its flaws are things kids won't notice anyway. It opens with a glimpse at the titular city's birth several generations earlier, where the men who created it -- henceforth affectionately known as The Builders -- are constructing the town many miles below the earth, essentially as a vast fallout shelter. Hoping to preserve a thriving populace for roughly as long as it would take to wait out the effects of an impending unnamed (but presumably war-related) disaster, the miraculously self-contained enclave is equipped with seemingly limitless supply shelves, electric power, and complete isolation from the rest of the world. The story then jumps forward to present day in the happy, close-knit community, where we meet our tween heroes, Doon (Harry Treadaway) and Lina (Saoirse Ronan). We also meet the other denizens of the town, and learn that a lot has changed since the time of The Builders. It seems that the citizens, however caring and warm, have become placated with the constant reinforcement that Ember is such a beacon of hope and light -- a joyful sense of pride that's been passed down through the generations at the apparent sacrifice of any deep knowledge about how anything works. The town has plumbers and electricians that can fix problem ABC with the instructions in manual XYZ, but most understanding of how the city's infrastructure actually functions has been lost, including knowledge of electricity, or even fire. These days, these things are basically magic. The problem is that Ember has been running for well past the 200 years its generator was designed for. Nobody knows how to fix it, and while the food supplies dwindle, the lights start to regularly flicker and even go out, threatening to leave the sunless, moonless city in complete darkness forever. These moments are truly chilling, and they turn the cute little fairy-tale city into a scary place pretty quickly. This juxtaposition of harmonious utopia and broken-down dystopia makes for a very interesting world. Ember is full of quaint, old-fashioned, Provincial-looking streets, and lots of grand, steampunk-type clockwork, like a future imagined in an Arthur C. Clarke novel. But it's also dingy and careworn and not at all unlike the underground city of Zion from the Matrix sequels -- with lots of loose, open-knit sweaters. This makes the movie dark both literally and tonally, evoking that fear of darkness and entrapment so that even grown-ups might start to feel skittish. Unfortunately, the movie's two heroes are seemingly the only two people in Ember who are curious, or even worried, about the crumbling infrastructure. Well-meaning adults keep in step with their own insulated world view, insisting that nothing exists outside of Ember, only darkness, and that it's pointless (not to mention illegal) to try to leave. Here, the story spins into a classic fable: the ignorance that seemed so blissful shows it's just one half of a coin, where the other side holds apathy and hopelessness. The moral might well be lost on kids, but for adults, it's compelling -- all the more so because we like the good people of this dying city. Things take off when Lina and Doon find an artifact left by The Builders with partial instructions for leaving Ember. It sends the two on a series of exciting adventures, running all over the murky innards of the municipality like raggedy detectives. They continue their hunt throughout numerous dangers, as well as outright forbiddance (stemming from corruption on the part of Ember's Mayor Cole, played by Bill Murray with his signature, genius brand of bored entitlement), but with each clue, the kids gain new insight into the minds of The Builders -- whose true intentions for Ember included the inhabitants one day leaving. The story can get a little muddled here and there, with hiccups in the storytelling that can lead to confusion (What's this guy's job again? Why is she telling the secret? Was that a giant mole monster just now?), but kids probably won't notice, and grown-up-kids probably won't care. Lina and Doon's vigilant sense of hope is, in the end, incredibly inspiring and extremely pertinent. Released to theaters just weeks after the reveal of a devastating economic crisis, and in the midst of a presidential election that put apocalyptic visions of global warming, terrorism, and the Great Depression front and center in people's minds, the movie feels uncannily relevant and heartbreakingly uplifting. It might be a staple theme in family films, but City of Ember is a useful reminder about the power of the human spirit to triumph where our own hopelessly broken systems have failed. It's a message that the filmmakers didn't take for granted -- and that hopefully viewers won't either.

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Product Details

Release Date:
01/20/2009
UPC:
0024543563396
Original Release:
2008
Rating:
PG
Source:
20th Century Fox
Region Code:
1
Presentation:
[Full Frame, Wide Screen]
Sound:
[Dolby AC-3 Surround Sound]
Time:
1:35:00
Sales rank:
4,058

Related Subjects

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Saoirse Ronan Lina Mayfleet
Harry Treadaway Doon Harrow
Bill Murray Mayor Cole
Martin Landau Sul
Mary Kay Place Mrs. Murdo
Toby Jones Barton Snode
Marianne Jean-Baptiste Clary
Mackenzie Crook Looper
Tim Robbins Loris Harrow
Amy Quinn Poppy
Catherine Quinn Poppy
David Ryall chief builder
Ian McElhinney builder 2
B.J. Hogg mayor's guard
Lucinda Dryzek Lizzie Bisco
Matt Jessup Joss
Lara McIvor Roner
Miles Thompson Smat
Eoin McAndrew student
Rachel Morton student
Conor MacNeill student
Lorraine Hilton Miss Thorn
Liam Burke Mr. Boaz
Liz Smith Granny
Simon Kunz Captain Fleery
Frankie McCafferty Arbin Swinn
Heathcote Williams Sadge Merrall
Maureen Dow Mrs. Sample
Becky Stark song master
Brid Ni Chionaola Seely Schnap
Mark Mulholland portrait painter
Valerie O'Connor person in line
Ann Queensbury Doctor Tower

Technical Credits
Gil Kenan Director
Terry Bamber Production Manager
Ross Bradshaw Art Director
Lindsay Fellows Musical Direction/Supervision
Gary Goetzman Producer
Heather Greenlees Set Decoration/Design
Xavier Pérez Grobet Cinematographer
Tom Hanks Producer
Richard Hicks Casting
James Foster Art Director
Ashleigh Jeffers Art Director
Martin Laing Production Designer
Peter Lindsay Sound/Sound Designer
Andrew Lockington Score Composer
Ruth Myers Costumes/Costume Designer
Brendan Rankin Set Decoration/Design
Stephen P. Robinson Sound/Sound Designer
David Rubin Casting
Diana Choi Sachs Executive Producer
John D. Schofield Executive Producer
Adam P. Scott Editor
Steven Shareshian Producer
Zach Staenberg Editor
Gail Stevens Casting
Caroline Thompson Screenwriter

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Scene Index

Disc #1, Side A -- City of Ember - Full Screen
1. Mian Titles / The Box [3:10]
2. Another Blackout [2:41]
3. Assignment Day [3:29]
4. Job Swap [5:16]
5. New Positions [3:42]
6. So Dark [2:00]
7. The Pipeworks [4:00]
8. Seven Minutes [4:02]
9. Message For the Mayor [2:36]
10. Fleet Delivery [3:08]
11. Puzzle Pieces [3:35]
12. Help Will Come [4:14]
13. Underground Monster [3:12]
14. Lina's Father [3:06]
15. Troubled Times [2:34]
16. Room 351 [4:09]
17. Serious Accusation [4:02]
18. On the Run [2:14]
19. In Hiding [2:19]
20. A Way Out [1:40]
21. Beacon of Light [1:17]
22. The Key [2:20]
23. Master Plan [5:44]
24. Emergency Controls [2:20]
25. "It's My Job" [3:54]
26. Exit From Ember [5:27]
27. First Dawn [2:29]
28. Message / End Titles [6:15]
29. Chapter 29 [:01]
Disc #1, Side B -- City of Ember - Wide Screen
1. Mian Titles / The Box [3:10]
2. Another Blackout [2:41]
3. Assignment Day [3:29]
4. Job Swap [5:16]
5. New Positions [3:42]
6. So Dark [2:00]
7. The Pipeworks [4:00]
8. Seven Minutes [4:02]
9. Message For the Mayor [2:36]
10. Fleet Delivery [3:08]
11. Puzzle Pieces [3:35]
12. Help Will Come [4:14]
13. Underground Monster [3:12]
14. Lina's Father [3:06]
15. Troubled Times [2:34]
16. Room 351 [4:09]
17. Serious Accusation [4:02]
18. On the Run [2:14]
19. In Hiding [2:19]
20. A Way Out [1:40]
21. Beacon of Light [1:17]
22. The Key [2:20]
23. Master Plan [5:44]
24. Emergency Controls [2:20]
25. "It's My Job" [3:54]
26. Exit From Ember [5:27]
27. First Dawn [2:29]
28. Message / End Titles [6:15]
29. Chapter 29 [:01]

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City of Ember 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 23 reviews.
SuperReaderChick More than 1 year ago
I was so excited when I saw that this book was going to become a movie! I have very high standards for movies made from books. I want them to be as close to my beloved story as possible, however I do understand that some changes have to be allowed. This movie did not disappoint me. It followed closely with the book, yet was easy to enjoy even if you hadn't read the book. If anything it would make you want to read or reread it. The ending went right along with the book and gave me goosebumps for how awesome it was. I recommend this movie and book to people who want to watch/read something original that will make you think about life and the choices people make.
anglophileJR More than 1 year ago
Not sure why this movie didn't do better in theaters. It's a nice quirky little self-contained story that might be a little tough for young minds to follow, but if the kids can follow it, they will enjoy the story, and where it leads. Probably kids need to be 9+ to enjoy this movie.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I rented this movie and loved it. When I saw that it was based on the book, I checked out the audio book from the library to listen to in the car. The book was as good as the movie. I then purchased the movie from B&N. I watched it with my nieces and nephew and they also loved the movie.
Vera-Iconica More than 1 year ago
This movie isn't exactly like the book, but it's close enough to still be excellent. A definite must-see.
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Anonemous1 More than 1 year ago
My Book Review: I read the book called City of Ember by Jeanne Duprau and it was a good book. These are some reasons why I liked this book. I liked that the setting of the book was in a place I would of nnot expected. I also liked how the autor explained the characters in the story. The author described the characters well. These are reasons why I liked the city of Ember.
Soontobeauthor More than 1 year ago
This movie was nothing like the book. Where was the sewer monster in the book. A complete waste of money
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I saw this movie bc i like the actress Saoirse Ronan. She was good in this movie as expected. I thought the concept of the movie was very interesting, and it made me think about whether something like that could actually happen in the future. It was a fairly good movie, the only complaint i had was i don't think Bill Murray fit the character as well as i would have liked. I saw the movie and then read the book and i thought both were good. I think the characters acted a little more mature in the movie than they were portrayed in the beginning of the book, but their overall development was very similar. I would recommend this movie if you like somewhat scifi movies/action/fantasy. Overall a good feeling film that portrays friendship, bravery and relentless hope as keys for life.
-_Jordan_- More than 1 year ago
This movie was so awesome. Some things were different from the book, but it was still the best movie I've ever seen. I watched it by myself and then I immediatelty watched it with someone else and I still want to watch it again! If you're a fan of the Ember series, BUY THIS!!!!! P.S. READ THE BOOK TOO!!!!
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