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.
There’s nothing like a good ol’ mystery to stir up the discoverer in each one of us. And City of Ember has just what it takes to do that.
At the start, all you know is that when the earth was dying, a group of scientists came together to create an underground city- the key to mankind’s survival. They placed a secret inside a locked briefcase that was supposed to be opened after 200 years. But as time went by, the briefcase was misplaced and the secret threatened to be lost forever.
Many years later, the City of Ember – so named because its light is its very life source- is dying. The generator that has been giving the city its light has been breaking down more and more often, and the blackouts are not only more frequent, they also last longer. Amidst this impending sense of doom, two plucky teenagers, Lina Mayfleet (Saoirse Ronan) and Doon Harrow (Harry Treadway) set out to unlock the secret of the city’s existence and find a way to escape from the underground.
Yes, it’s a simple setup but like I said, the thrill is in the discovery. Director Gil Kenan infuses the movie with a sense of ambiguity by scattering the clues to the puzzle and enticing you to try to guess how it all comes together. Indeed, you’ll be continually fascinated as Lina and Doon try to uncover what the Builders (as the architects of the City are referred to) intended with every contraception they had constructed.
But deserving of special mention are production designer Martin Laing, and his team of art directors. Together they have created a mesmerizing City that certainly contains more than enough to keep you in wonder and awe. Veteran cinematographer Xavier Perez Gorbet also makes the most of the play of light and darkness in the movie, creating some truly beautiful shots for the film.
And while the first half of the movie wraps you in its mystery, the latter half grips you in its adventure. Director Kenan keeps the pace pumping with one thrill after another as Lina and Doon have to escape a corrupt mayor (Bill Murray) and the rest of his equally inept minions. If even I was transfixed, you can be sure that kids and adolescents (for whom the book by Jeanne Duprau was targeted at) will be spellbound.
Last seen in Atonement, Saoirse Ronan gives a suitably energized performance as Lina, the wide-eyed girl that discovers a link between her family and the lineage of mayors that have run the City. Unfortunately, next to Ronan, relative newcomer Harry Treadway (who plays Doon) just doesn’t have enough screen presence and is most of the time lost amidst the unfolding action.
Luckily, this City pretty much holds its own thanks to its intriguing premise. It draws you in and entices you to go along the journey of discovery that Lina and Doon embark in. Let’s face it- how many of us gone on an adventure recently, let loose that discoverer inside of us? City of Ember invites you to live vicariously. What reason do you have to decline?
SPECIAL FEATURES :
This Code 3 DVD contains no extra features.
The visual transfer is excellent, bringing out the hues and shades in the movie very nicely. Audio’s only presented in Dolby 2.0, but if your system allows you 5.1 surround, it still manages to hold up pretty well.
by Gabriel Chong