Sunday, 1 November 2009

Film Review: CITY OF EMBER (2008)

Director: Gil Kenan
Running time: 90 mins (approx)
Certificate (UK): PG

Watched on Sky+ Sunday 1st November 2009.


Set in a future where the Earth’s surface has become uninhabitable and so, in order to save the human race, a group of scientists and engineers build the subterranean City of Ember. A case is entrusted to the mayor with a clock built in that counts down for two hundred years. This case contains the secret of the City and the key to the way to the surface. Unfortunately, with the passage of time, the case was lost and eventually opened alone on a shelf. With the city now beyond its two hundred year lifespan, the generator that keeps it alive is failing and the food is beginning to run out.

Two children, Lina Mayfleet and Doon Harrow, are curious as to why the generator is failing and why it is illegal to leave the city. Doon’s father, Lorris, is an inventor and encourages his son to question the world around him. Lina has lost both her parents and, along with her little sister Poppy, is cared for by their grandmother. Both children have just come of age and, as tradition holds, they are assigned jobs by the Mayor. This is done quite randomly by picking them out of a bag. Doon wants to work with the generator, but ends up in the Pipe Works. Lina gets her wish and ends up as a messenger. But when Lina discovers the case and begins to piece together the clues inside, both of them are in for a great adventure!

First of all, I must give praise to the set designers and builders; they have done a great job of putting together an underground city. Great cinematography and lighting too. Great performances from our two main cast members, Saoirse Ronan as Lina Mayfleet and Harry Treadaway as Doon Harrow. Decent performances also from Tim Robbins as Loris Harrow, Bill Murray as Mayor Cole, Martin Landau as Sul, Toby Jones as Barton Snode, Mackenzie Crook as Looper and Marianne Jean-Baptiste as Clary. I guess the thing that let it down for me was that, although it was quite exciting at times, and the subject matter really interested me, I never really engaged with any of the characters. Some of the city residents weren’t particularly likeable, especially the mayor, and so I didn’t really care whether they were saved or not. Over all, a fair effort that didn’t quite hit the mark.

My score: 6/10

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