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City of Ember

  • Film
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended

Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars
Gil Kenan’s scary animated movie ‘Monster House’ acknowledged its young audience’s ability to engage with a surprisingly grown-up story. This dystopian sci-fi adventure also refuses to talk down to the ‘family’ audience. Its fluid visual storytelling draws us into Ember’s subterranean world, where 12-year-old Lina (Saoirse Ronan) and her friend Doon (Harry Treadaway) scrabble to survive. The orphaned Lina also has to care for her doolally grandmother (Liz Smith) and her cute baby sister Poppy.

Presiding over this makeshift community is Mayor Cole (Bill Murray), who is too busy slurping tinned fish to bother with the city’s imminent demise. But messenger Lina and pipe-fixer Doon know that the lights are about to dim for ever. In a race against time, they pit themselves against the smug Mayor, his smarmy flunky Barton Snode (Toby Jones) and his rat-like henchman Looper (Mackenzie Crook). Other obstacles include Doon’s fatalistic inventor father (Tim Robbins) and, when they venture into the forbidden hinterlands, a fearsome giant mole.
There are mysteries to be solved, but Lina and Doon have no idea what lays beyond Ember. Its myopic citizens have long since forgotten the teachings of their founding fathers, who created this city as a refuge from some surface-level calamity.

So as the exciting, theme-park-ride finale flings the children towards an unknown future, their excitement is tinged with fear. Adapted from Jeanne Duprau’s novel by ‘Edward Scissorhands’ writer Caroline Thompson, this seriously entertaining film celebrates the idea that, despite their elders’ complacency, the young will find the strength to imagine a better future for themselves.
Written by Nigel Floyd

Release Details

  • Rated:PG
  • Release date:Friday 10 October 2008
  • Duration:95 mins

Cast and crew

  • Director:Gil Kenan
  • Screenwriter:Caroline Thompson
  • Cast:
    • Bill Murray
    • Tim Robbins
    • Harry Treadaway
    • Martin Landau
    • Mary Kay Place
    • Saoirse Ronan
    • MacKenzie Crook
    • Liz Smith
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