City of Ember, based on the novel by Jeanne DuPrau, completes the trilogy of young adult books-turned-movies here at the bottom of the list, which also includes Eragon and Inkheart. City of Ember is higher than these others because it avoids some of their obvious flaws, neither feeling too rushed nor annoying me with its departures from the source material, perhaps because I haven’t read DuPrau’s bestseller. But, even as a film on its own, it succeeds best in creating a believable world brought to life by an impressive set design. The acting is also quite good across the board with Saoirse Ronan and Harry Treadaway being quite believable as Lina and Doon, not to mention Bill Murray’s hammy performance as the mayor.
Like the two previously mentioned fantasies, City of Ember never got the sequel it deserved since neither critics nor audiences embraced it. While many referred to flaws and unanswered questions in the plot, I think the film did an excellent job at revealing (through National Treasure-style clue-finding) just enough to keep one interested while peeling more away as the characters discover things for themselves. It certainly has fewer open mysteries than Prometheus did.
The score, while less memorable than Eragon’s, is nice, but the special effects are a tad inconsistent. I thought the people of Ember were unusually apathetic, but that doesn’t necessarily surprise me, considering how many people tend to act like sheep in situations they think are out of their control. There are also some very interestingly photographed scenes, such as the initial passing down of the box and the dropping of the rock at the end. Also, did anyone think the mayor’s comeuppance was reminiscent of Paul Reiser’s end in Aliens? While the finale inexplicably has the heroes’ riding down waterfalls and yet somehow ending up aboveground, the end nevertheless had me wanting more. Many adults may write it off as kids’ fare, but City of Ember is a decent dystopian adventure that was sadly left by the wayside.
Best line: “Ours is the only light in a dark world.” (the end of Ember’s pledge of allegiance)Artistry: 5 Characters/Actors: 5 Entertainment: 5 Visual Effects: 4 Originality: 4 Watchability: 5 TOTAL: 28 out of 60
Tomorrow: #345: Entrapment
© 2014 S. G. Liput