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City of Ember

7/10
Fantasy . Family . Adventure
 

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, before the the lights go out forever.

 
Actors: Saoirse Ronan , David Ryall , Tim Robbins , Toby Jones , Martin Landau , Bill Murray , Mary Kay Place , Harry Treadaway , B.J. Hogg , Ian McElhinney
Directors: Gil Kenan
Country: USA
Release: 2008-10-10
More Info:
  • Cammila Albertson

    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.

    TV Guide Full Review
  • Michael Phillips

    If older kids and adults seek out this picture, which 20th Century Fox and Walden Media clearly aren't sure how to sell, they may well find themselves drawn into a subterranean world of considerable imagination.

    Chicago Tribune Full Review
  • Mick LaSalle

    An impressive and imaginative fantasy.

    San Francisco Chronicle Full Review
  • James Berardinelli

    City of Ember has almost anything one could want from a science fiction-based family adventure film: likeable characters, an imaginative setting, and a fast pace.

    ReelViews Full Review
  • William Arnold

    It scores few points for originality, but it's a fuzzier, less pretentious and more enjoyable movie.

    Seattle Post-Intelligencer Full Review
  • Nathan Rabin

    Ember is seldom riveting, but it's consistently compelling, and its uncompromising literal and metaphorical darkness renders its climax enormously satisfying.

    The A.V. Club Full Review
  • Ed Gonzales

    The story subtly evokes Rand and scripture, colliding secular and spiritual values, and, as such, appeals to the blue- and red-minded alike.

    L.A. Weekly Full Review
  • Neely Tucker

    It's not an entirely convincing trip, but it is the sort of satisfying movie you wished they would make more often.

    Washington Post Full Review
  • Gregory Kirschling

    The story, which follows two kids who try to save their burg from blackouts, isn't well-executed, losing itself to unclear mythology and sci-fi gibberish.

    Entertainment Weekly Full Review
  • Stan Hall

    Entertainment-wise, City of Ember is a good family deal: exciting and simple enough for anyone over 8 to follow yet mature and mildly satirical enough for parents.

    Portland Oregonian Full Review
  • Roger Ebert

    It's innocent and sometimes kind of charming. The sets are entertaining. There are parallels in appearance and theme to a low-rent "Dark City."

    Chicago Sun-Times Full Review
  • Kyle Smith

    For a kiddie adventure, the movie, based on the Jeanne DuPrau book, has a pleasingly moody, eerie quality.

    New York Post Full Review
  • Steven Rea

    All the running, the hiding, the escaping (from giant moles, from giant Murray) are decidedly less exciting, and compelling, than City of Ember wants to be.

    Philadelphia Inquirer Full Review
  • Claudia Puig

    At its best when sticking to a classic sci-fi-fantasy format. But when it tries to be a generic thrill ride, it loses its originality and peculiar charm.

    USA Today Full Review
  • Ty Burr

    City of Ember lacks the vision and scope of "WALL-E," but it's based on a pretty good kids' book and it makes a pretty good "Twilight Zone" episode, with hope dangling at the end rather than one of Rod Serling's cosmic black jokes.

    Boston Globe Full Review
  • Liam Lacey

    The movie begs for a a third-act showdown but, instead, the dramatic tension is allowed to leak away.

    The Globe and Mail (Toronto) Full Review
  • Michael Sragow

    It's lumpy, odd and tonally all over the place, but its vision gets to you, and its payoff delivers a tough kid's catharsis.

    Baltimore Sun Full Review
  • Elizabeth Weitzman

    Though the film ultimately falls short of its considerable promise, there's more than enough here to keep thoughtful moviegoers - of any age - intrigued.

    New York Daily News Full Review
  • Dan Jolin

    With Ember's hydro-electro-punk charms, Kenan's convinced us he's one of Hollywood's most exciting (and excited!) visualists. But on the evidence of this, his storytelling skills still need honing.

    Empire Full Review
  • Kirk Honeycutt

    Stalls at the intersection of fantasy and science fiction.

    The Hollywood Reporter Full Review
  • Peter Travers

    You long for things to go bump in the night, but the movie muffles every risk in a blanket of bland.

    Rolling Stone Full Review
  • Rene Rodriguez

    The movie is an exceedingly slight tale whose entire second half consists primarily of special effects and wonderful set designs.

    Miami Herald Full Review
  • Marc Savlov

    Ultimately, it's undone by the overfamiliar nature of Doon and Lina's quest, the outcome of which, while breathlessly paced, is never really in question.

    Austin Chronicle Full Review
  • Robert Abele

    None of this means that the film is necessarily enjoyable to watch, however, which is often the problem when the rigors of inspired storytelling can't live up to an imaginatively designed filmic world.

    Los Angeles Times Full Review
  • Stephen Holden

    At only 95 minutes, the movie feels as though it had been shredded in the editing room. In Hollywood-speak, it has a weak second act.

    The New York Times Full Review
  • Justin Chang

    A fabulously designed underground metropolis proves more involving than the teenagers running through its streets in City of Ember, a good-looking but no more than serviceable adaptation of Jeanne Duprau's 2003 novel.

    Variety Full Review
  • J.R. Jones

    A murky, directionless plot sinks this big-budget fantasy despite Martin Laing's elaborate production design; the dark, industrial-looking sets often recall "Brazil" but without that film's thrilling sense of an imagination run amok.

    Chicago Reader Full Review
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  • underground world

  • job

  • scientist

  • food

  • pipeworks

  • box

  • puzzle

  • dystopia

  • post apocalyptic

  • adventure

  • mayor

  • assignment

  • rube goldberg machine

  • floor plan

  • miner's lamp helmet

  • store room

  • book of instructions

  • reading

  • death by drowning

  • answering machine

  • foster home

  • monster

  • sunrise

  • cave

  • water wheel

  • guard

  • treason

  • singing

  • subterranean world

  • self sacrifice

  • loss of father

  • locker room

  • warehouse

  • apocalypse

  • end of the world

  • inventor

  • robot

  • father son relationship

  • boyfriend girlfriend relationship

  • old woman

  • picking a lock

  • power failure

  • family relationships

  • water pipe

  • underground river system

  • politician

  • place name in title

  • orphan

  • greenhouse

  • fictional city

  • corrupt politician

  • city name in title

  • steampunk

  • running

  • whispering into someone's ear

  • first job

  • cape the garment

  • following instructions

  • subterranean city

  • city mayor

  • storage room

  • trying to escape

  • begins with narration

  • corrupt mayor

  • hiding

  • giant animal

  • school

  • drawing

  • flashlight

  • contraption

  • hard hat

  • claw

  • marching band

  • band

  • book

  • drowning

  • pineapple

  • beating a rug

  • washing clothes

  • laundromat

  • breaking and entering

  • dock

  • pier

  • underwater scene

  • water slide

  • fight

  • candle

  • stairway

  • mechanic

  • jumping on a bed

  • hammer

  • flooding

  • flood

  • wheelbarrow

  • climbing out a window

  • arrest

  • song

  • singer

  • plumbing

  • insect

  • sacrifice

  • loss

  • sorrow

  • tools

  • doctor

  • one legged man

  • loyalty

  • oath

  • architect

  • engineer

  • beetle

  • steam

  • tunnel

  • machinery

  • death

  • pursuit

  • eating

  • chaos

  • panic

  • code

  • subjective camera

  • electricity

  • prologue

  • girl

  • boy

  • teenage girl

  • teenage boy

  • voice over narration

  • three word title

  • secret door

  • creature

  • surrealism

  • grandmother granddaughter relationship

  • sister sister relationship

  • survival

  • sleeping

  • rock

  • graduation

  • death of grandmother

  • community

  • chase

  • brownout

  • box office flop

  • boat

  • industry

  • friendship

  • death of father

  • based on novel

  • title spoken by character

  • message

  • messenger

  • underground city

  • power generator

  • darkness

  • secret

  • future

  • blackout

  • friend

  • escape

  • post apocalypse

  • unknown region

  • teen angst

  • job assignment

  • metal box

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