When it was obvious the world was coming to an end, the most brilliant people in the world made a city underground for people to wait out whatever ended the world on the surface. They suspected 200 years would be long enough for the earth to heal. They locked the keys to the exit of the City of Ember in a box that was to open when people would probably be safe to venture to the surface. They didnít want people to be sorrowful, so they made it illegal to look for an exit or venture into the dark. They gave the keys to the mayor of the city and abandoned the people there. Two hundred years later the generator that keeps the city alive is beginning to die off. Doon Harrow (Harry Treadaway) and Lina Mayfleet (Saoirse Ronan) have come of age, getting their first jobs in the city. They realize the city is in terrible shape and that something must be done. At the behest of the corrupt government, Mayor Cole (Bill Murray) and lazy adults, Doon and Lina do not ďmind their own businessĒ and take responsibility for the entire city.
City of Ember does not shy away from shoving themes at the audience in the first twenty minutes. The grownups tell the kids to not look at problems, to only know their own job, keep busy, and donít think too much, to name a few. There is even a little religiousness thrown in there for fun. The themes are important but they come at the audience like a pitching machine on high. Even though absorbing the themes does require a bit of mental athleticism, aside from the confusing religious ideas, the lessons are important for anyone to retain, maybe most importantly children. I donít think most parents would enjoy their children being taught the value of thinking for themselves, even if it means ignoring adults; I think most adults donít even like the idea of thinking for themselves.
For the first hour or so I could hear a bell ringing in my head. It was ringing a familiar tune, but I couldnít place it. After much internal humming I realized why my head was chiming. Gil Kenan and Caroline Thompson had created a dark, sad, dreary Whoville deep underground. Bill Murray, the Mayor of Ember looks just like the Mayor of Whoville. One is as good natured as the other is bad natured. Separated at birth, raised in different socioeconomic circumstances and given different levels of nurture, they both aspired to public office where one twin became the savior of his people and the other ate his weight in canned fish.
City of Ember is sprinkled with gorgeous scenes. There were a few times when I wanted the characters to stop running so I could see the city they were running through or wish they could stop what they were riding in so I could look around.
The plot could use either more depth or more simplicity, but still tries to send a good message about taking a stand to do the right thing. It is appropriate for children of all ages and parents wonít get so bored they will commit suicide.
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