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City Of Ember [DVD]
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Family sci-fi adventure starring Bill Murray and Tim Robbins. The City of Ember is an underground city built to last 200 years to house humankind following an unspecified disaster. However, the 200-year mark has been and gone and the city is running low on food and energy. The technological knowledge from the original builders of the city has been lost and disregarded, and generations of corrupt officialdom have added to the deterioration of the once flourishing community. When two teenagers, Lina Mayfleet (Saoirse Ronan) and Doon Harrow (Harry Treadaway), uncover the precious box of instructions left behind by the city's builders generations before, they decide to brave the darkness and set out on a mission to save their dying city.
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. Now, two teenagers in a race against time, must search Ember for clues that will unlock the ancient mystery of the city's existence, and help the citizens escape before the lights go out forever.
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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).
However it would have been a better film if it had stuck to the original story rather than trying to 'jazz it up' at the end to make it more gripping/sensational for the audience. Having read the book, I felt it detracted from the essence of the story, but I would wouldn't I?
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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