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Ember burns brightPosted Wednesday, February 4, 2009, at 11:24 PM
Looking for a good family flick that challenges the viewer and entertains at the same time? Then grab your keys, load up the kiddies and hit the pavement -- City of Ember is waiting for you.
The film begins in a glossy, white future, or could it be the present, and the chain of events begins. A group of men discuss how long of a time lock they should set and, in theory, how long before man came reemerge and attempt to regain its glory.
Flash forward 200 years.
Quickly we learn that Ember is suffering blackouts that, according to Doon (Harry Treadaway), are growing worse and threatens the very existence of Ember. The survival of its inhabitants falls into the hands of two young visionaries who imagine a world beyond what they know and what they've been taught. Their future lies beyond the darkness, where a mighty river that powers the city rages and the one possible path that can save Ember.
Treadway and Saoirse Ronan (Lina Mayfleet) are amazing in their roles. It is their believability in the lead roles that lends credence to the flick and elevates this from being a good film into being a must see.
The set design is another element that sets the film apart. As soon as Ember is revealed, the city becomes as familiar as your own hometown. Its inhabitants, the smells and the sense of unity in a dark and desperate time; all the elements that make up an interesting society.
The film has great pacing that keeps the viewer's eyes glued to the action and when the pace begins to accelerate at the end, it doesn't skip a beat and powers the film to a very satisfying conclusion.
That being said, there are a few problems with the film that I found while viewing it. One aspect was the ending. I didn't find it feasible to send a message to Ember in the manner in which Doon and Lina deliver it. Also, the special effects toward the end of the film were atrocious. It's almost enough to jolt you out of a wonderful story, but the strength of the tale perseveres.
Final Cut: City of Ember exceeded all my expectations and then some. The film overcame less than dazzling effects at the end and brings home a tale of hope and determination with some memorable characters that you won't soon forget. A definite must see.
3.5 out of 4 stars
City of Ember
Starring: Harry Treadaway, Saoirse Ronan, Tim Robbins, Bill Murray
Director: Gil Kenan
Written by: Caroline Thomson (Screenplay), Jeanne DuPrau (Novel)