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4.2 out of 5 stars121
4.2 out of 5 stars
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on 26 June 2009
I rented this film the other day having not read the books (or heard about them at all).
My choice was based on the cast (Tim Robbins, Martin Landau, Toby Jones and Bill Murray amongst many others)- I'm also a fan of fantasy/magic/escapist stories.

I was NOT disappointed. The cast was predictably excellent, in particular the two young leads. The story itself was unoriginal in its premise but gripping nonetheless.
Most of all what made the film for me was the strange city of Ember itself. I loved the idea of an underground city depending on its generator to survive. It was visually a lovely film and the last few scenes were very moving. Oh, and the voiceover was perfect.

As far as the beginning being slow- I didn't find that at all. The beginning sets the scene for the story to unfold and introduces the viewer to the city- the mayor, the way the kids are apprenticed, their day to day life, their job etc.

All in all I was hooked and am now in the process of buying the books!
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on 23 April 2009
I liked the idea of this film from the start...but ideas don't always translate into good films. This one does.

The characters were deep, lovable, and even their human failings understandable.

The film is magical from start to finish and kept me wanting more. The final section of the film was exciting, and I found myself by turns excited, mystified and worried - an ending more action packed than I could have hoped.

Truly a joy.
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on 27 May 2009
The Earths surface has become inhabitable and the only way the humen race will survive is to live in a massive city called Ember, which is many miles underground for 200 years. The builders of the city entrusted the mayor with a box that had a count down for 200 years and when it reaches zero it would open with instructions on how to exit Ember to the Earths surface. The box gets past on from mayor to mayor but over time the box got forgotton and lost. The city of Ember keeps on having blackouts as the city's massive power generator begins to fail and it won't be long before their city is plunged into darkness forever! Bill Murray plays a sinister mayor and does'nt care about anyone but himself. Will anyone find the box before the power generator fails and will the Earths surface be liveable or not. Trust me you would'nt want to bump into a mole down in the city of Ember or the moths either. Overall City Of Ember is a very entertaining film with a great story and the Blu-ray transfer is topnotch too.
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on 16 March 2009
City of Ember takes place in the fictional City of Ember - Although that is sort of infered in the title. Based on the 2003 Novel of the same name: The City of Ember

Ember was a Utopia created by a group of well meaning scientists with the view to creating a society that existed away from the outside word, shielding it from an unexplained disaster. The story follows Lina Mayfleet and Doon Harrow as they attempt to escape from a Ember that has devolved into a dystopia - Running out of power with food supplies at a near exhausted level. However the secret of how to escape is now long forgotten, and the society is naively allowing the gluttonous Mayor Cole, played brilliantly by Bill Murray, to explain away the ever increasing power cuts plaguing the city with half-truths.

A joy to watch, with each scene packed with intricate detail, transitions beautifully to Blu-Ray. The special features are very worth watching giving an insight into the creation of the movie, with interviews from cast and crew.

This film is a kids movie, but any adult who was dragged by the children to see it can tell you that at no point during the movie does it feel like the content has been dumbed down for a younger audience. Well worth a watch.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 20 May 2014
It is a honest, solid science fiction/adventure film, targeting mostly young public, but also watchable for adults. Below, more of my impressions, with some limited SPOILERS.

With an unspecified catastrophe destroying human civilisation, a huge underground shelter was build to harbor a group of survivors - the "City of Ember". The city is built into a vast underground cavern and is filled with conventionally sized buildings and houses - the lights of this place are powered by a massive generator. But the city is now 241 years old - and it is slowly decaying. As generator begins to fail blackouts are occurring - and the reserves of canned goods and light bulbs are becoming depleted.

The Mayor (Bill Murray), a guy both clueless AND ruthless (the worst possible combination) is unable to cope with this crisis - but is quite competent at preventing anyone of doing anything... There are however two teenagers, Doon Harrow (Harry Treadaway) and especially Lina Mayfleet (Saoirse Ronan), who want to do something for their dying city, even if they don't know yet what...

Lina, being a descendant of one of early Mayors of City of Ember, comes from what is the higher strates in this underground society, when Doon on another hand is clearly working class - but they are nevertheless good friends and quickly become "partners in crime", when they start investigating some clues from the distant past, which the Mayor wants to remain hidden... I will not say more about the story.

This is not a bad film and I watched it with pleasure. Some really good actors play here, as other than Bill Murray we have Tim Robbins, Martin Landau and Toby Jones. But this film was especially the confirmation of great talent of Saoirse Ronan, who got her big break a year earlier in "Atonement" - here, at the tender age of 14, she gives an excellent performance and her next film was going to be "Lovely Bones"...

However, I can absolutely see why this film underperformed at box office - it suffers from a narrow ecological market niche. It is definitely TOO DARK for children and when we watched it, my then 10 years old daughter became ultimately scared and uncomfortable with it... SPOILER and PARENTAL WARNING: there is also one (just one) monster, a quite grotesque and yet freakishly scary thing, which, without the slightest doubt, EATS PEOPLE! For this thing alone I would very strongly advise against watching it with young children - in fact this film should be rated PG 12.

On another hand, for most of adults this film will be probably not serious enough - therefore, the main adult public for "City of Ember" are, I believe, terminal science-fiction freaks like me... This "double trouble" limitation of age category created indeed a box office trap, which resulted in a financial counter-performance.

It is a pity, because the story and the visual aspect of this film are not bad at all and as I already said, I watched it with pleasure. It certainly deserves to be given a chance. Enjoy!
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on 11 April 2009
/This review contains no plot-spoilers/ Like all fantasy and science-fiction films based on novels, you're probably going to be very disappointed if you've already read the books. And that goes doubly so for classic children's books. And triply so if the movie is a little too far towards being B-grade and low-budget. I hadn't heard of the books, and wasn't even sure if this was meant to be a children's movie or how much had been spent making it (I'll watch any budget sci-fi/fantasy movie that seems to have had some care in the making) - so this was an enjoyable cinematic experience for me, and I'd watch it again. Technically this British-made film is very workmanlike and polished - and especially so in the costume design, superb set design and the sustained ambience. The lighting might have been a lot more dynamic. The early-appearing supporting British character-actors such as Heathcote Williams and the grandmother set an excellent tone for the movie, and the supporting cast all convince. For most 10 to 13 year olds, this will be a highly enjoyable and engaging fantasy adventure, one they can watch together with adults without the adults getting bored. I'm not sure about 7-9 year olds getting bored, though. Other reviews have said the first half is slow, but I didn't notice that and liked the relatively intelligent and atmospheric build-up. The first-half may well be too slow, though, for younger and/or non-bookish kids - especially if they expect a non-stop 90 minute all-action roller-coaster-ride from every movie they see. We could have had a little more quirky character depth from the two main characters, perhaps by adding some voiceover "I remember..." moments near the start and more facial expressiveness - but thankfully the studio writers decided not to inject any of the oh-so-fashionable angst and horror that seems to be standard for "young adult" fare these days. The film rather reminded me of a videogame at times, and I would love to play it as such. It has something of the puzzle-adventure games Myst and Riven about it, but in the setting of Fallout 3. Yet the lacklustre box-office performance of the film in the U.S.A, and the similarity to the existing game Fallout 3, will inevitably mean that there'll be no game made of it now. Having now seen the film, I would suggest that an intelligent bookish 13 or 14 year-old reader of the books might love to read Neil Stephenson's new novel "Anathem" which has a similar setting and protagonist, although skipping some of the more philosophical bits. To conclude - a robustly well-made and well-acted entertainment, which if not perfect still manages to be far more engaging and memorable than the dismal "Voyage to the Center of the Earth" which is flagged on the DVD cover.
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on 15 January 2013
I had never heard of City of Ember before so took a chance when I bought it. I was really surprised at how much I enjoyed watching this film.The story line was simple and not over complicated was captured and the detail throughout the film was good. Recommended to any lover of fantasy films, worth watching.
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VINE VOICEon 10 November 2008
I really enjoyed this film. I then went and got the book and, hooray! The film-makers hardly tinkered with the plot at all, kept all the characters exactly as they appear in the book and did a damn decent job of it all into the bargain.
Now why can't more film-makers do it like this?
It was, as another reviewer points out, also refreshing to watch a film with no sex, hardly any violence (and then more hinted than actual) and a happy ending.
The sets looked just like the city described in the book and the only jarring note for me was the giant mole-rat and the giant beetle claw - neither of which was explored any further and neither of which appears in the book. Pointless putting them in, really - except that it was one way of getting rid of the main baddie (magnificently played by Bill Murray).
The two teen leads were engaging without being 'Hollywood pretties', which was also refreshing and they really looked like 2 children who'd lived a life of semi-deprivation.
I saw this in an empty cinema and felt very sorry for everyone who missed it. If you love sci-fi/fantasy, this is an excellent film and I highly recommend it (oh, and read the book too - it's just as good).
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on 26 October 2008
Unexpectedly (ie with girlfriend) saw this at the cinema yesterday, and was quite surprised! Interesting fantasy set up, with elements of The Matrix (Zion city), The Truman Show and even Shymalan's oddity, The Village!
Straddling a fine line between children's and mainstream fare, this feels very much like the British TV scifi dramas, that you used to see in the 70's - classics like Children Of The Stones, Raven and The Changes. Only this time set in a US, some 200 years from now - and with a much bigger budget!
It's quite talky, and frustratingly fails to explore it's possibilities. However the acting is sincere and the set designs and FX are good. It's subterannean city is well realised, in a delightfully retro, steam punk style!
It's not an action movie, but there are a few thrills to be found, including a giant, mutated mole, courtesy of some decent CGI.
No real violence, bad language or sexual scenes make this fine for younger eyes, the nuclear war at the start of the movie not shown onscreen as such.
There is a possibility of a sequel, and as I am a sucker for post apocalyptic yarns, I think I'd check it out.
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Many years ago engineers built an underground city so that human life could continue, the surface would be no longer able to do so.
'Ember city' was built to last 200 years, each generation of mayor's would pass down a sealed chest holding the secrets of how to return to the surface when the time was right, the 7th mayor died before he could pass it on, so the small sealed chest bacame lost.
The 200 hundred year period has long past the systems were failing and food was becoming scarce, the only person that this was not affecting was the current mayor who had a secret hoard of food.
The box is found by accident by a teenager who with a friend try to discover the message within which will lead them to the earth's surface and save the community.
This is an entertaining futuristic family film that's certainly worth seeing.
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