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City of Ember

397 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

A heart-thumping, edge-of-your-seat adventure comes to light in this exhilarating family film based on the best-selling novel by Jeanne Duprau. For centuries, the residents of the underground City of Ember have flourished in an amazing world of glittering lights and quiet contentment. But when the City's massive power generator begins to fail, the street lamps start to fade - along with the hopes and dream of the townspeople. Now it's up to two courageous teenagers to follow a trail of clues left by the ancient Builders and find a way out of Ember before their world is plunged into darkness forever!

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Saoirse Ronan, Toby Jones, Bill Murray, David Ryall, Ian McElhinney
  • Directors: Gil Kenan
  • Writers: Caroline Thompson, Jeanne Duprau
  • Producers: Diana Choi, Gary Goetzman, John D. Schofield, Steve Shareshian, Tom Hanks
  • Format: Multiple Formats, AC-3, Color, Dolby, Dubbed, Widescreen, Full Screen, Subtitled, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Surround), Spanish (Dolby Surround)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Dubbed: French, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: 20th Century Fox
  • DVD Release Date: January 20, 2009
  • Run Time: 90 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (397 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,569 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "City of Ember" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

87 of 91 people found the following review helpful By Michael D. Sepesy on January 24, 2009
Format: DVD
I was looking forward to this film after having seen the trailer, but it came and went quickly. While the story is a bit slight, and the last portion of the film plays out like an adventure game, I would recommend at least renting this one. I liked the fact that none of the kids were smart-alecky stereotypes and there was none of the usual pandering to popular culture that destroys so many other young adult films and renders them to the dustbin of history ten minutes after their release. Furthermore, it was refreshing to see a film that doesn't require main characters (especially children) to fight a war or kill something in order to succeed. Instead, the kids rely on their ingenuity to overcome obstacles. I don't necessarily assume "wholesome" means "worthwhile," but City of Ember retains a kind of innocence in its adventure while still remaining watchable and interesting.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Navy Sailor VINE VOICE on April 22, 2010
Format: DVD
When a film boasts a cast list comprised of some of the most talented Hollywood actors in Bill Murray, Tim Robbins, Martin Landau, and Toby Jones, not to mention newcomer and extraordinary talent Saoirse Ronan, it will most likely go one of two ways: Either the film deserves such a fine cast and will be a great film (take 'The Departed' (2006) for example) . . . or the cast is set in a subpar piece to make up for the film's lesser elements (like 'Valentine's Day' (2010)). Luckily, 'City of Ember' falls in closer with the former instead of the latter.

The film, adapted from the novel by Jeanne Duprau, tells the story of a small city named Ember that, over two hundred years prior, was locked away by the city's founding builders. The city is run solely on the power of its massive generator that lies beneath like a beating heart. However, the old generator is slowly falling apart, casting the city into short periods of darkness. Doon Harrow (Harry Treadway), a young boy recently assigned to work on the pipes of the city, is convinced that only he can fix the generator and help the city. During his explorations of the piping systems, he finds a mysterious room that is unmarked on his maps. With the help of Lina Mayfleet (Saoirse Ronan), the two teens discover the secrets of Ember and the answers that may help save the townspeople from eternal darkness.

When 'City of Ember' was released into theatres, it seemed to have gone by the attention of most people without much notice. With a production budget of over $50 million, the film only raked in about $8 million domestically. But, why was this film such a tremendous bomb? From the looks of it, it had little to do with the film's quality.
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32 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Celia Hayes VINE VOICE on March 22, 2009
Format: DVD
This is a movie which barely made a ripple at the box office, before apparently sinking without a trace, only to emerge in DVD release. Which is a pity, as it is eminently watchable, not least for the detailed visualization of the underground city of the title. It is based on a very popular series of `tween novels; I imagine that if you don't have children of an age to be entranced by the books, it would have been very easy to escape any knowledge of them at all.
The set-up for the story involves an unspecified disaster on the surface of Earth, and the setting up of a refuge city deep under the earth; an entire city, completely self-contained in a vast cavern, supplied with enough food for 200 hundred years, powered by an enormous water-powered electrical generator. The civil authority, in the form of the Mayor of Ember is supplied with a small metal box, with a set of crucial instructions and a timer which will go off when supposedly it will be safe enough to emerge from Ember and live on the surface again. But there has been a break in the chain of mayoral authority; the box has been lost and forgotten, sitting on a dusty shelf. The current Mayor is a corrupt and manipulative fool, willing to see all decay around him, if he can hold onto power and privilege for a little longer. More than 200 years have passed, and the electrical generator is breaking down. Blackouts are coming more often and lasting longer, and the only people who seem to have an interest in doing anything about it are a pair of teenage friends. Lina works as a messenger, relaying personal messages among the inhabitants of Ember, since any electrical messaging system has long since decayed. Doon works in the `pipes' repairing and maintaining an infrastructure tottering on the edge of collapse.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By K. Barnes on March 20, 2011
Format: DVD
This film is great. I cannot figure out why it bombed at the box office. The characters were believable. The setting was memorable. I highly recommend this movie to all ages. While watching this movie, I found myself reminded of great films such as, Goonies, Indiana Jones, and THX-1138. The only downside was that plans for a sequel were cancelled.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By achoo on March 7, 2011
Format: Amazon Instant Video
Mar2011: Being a sci-fi/fantasy junkie, I devoured all four books in the series after my 10yo read the first one for a book report recently. Although some details are implausible, they are an easy read (I read the 2nd one in half a day), entertaining and thought-provoking. So it was with great interest that I rented the movie to see how much was changed. I liked the fact that it was good, clean family entertainment. My kids enjoyed the movie because it had more style than substance. Overall, however, it was just OK: not great, not bad. Off the top of my head:

The food shortages and absolute terror of being stranded in a permanently black environment from an unreliable generator could have been effectively conveyed visually, but what's up with the giant (not mutants) bugs and star moles? Adding a bizarre element of normally benign nocturnal creatures to the storyline where the former would have sufficed was unnecessary, to say the least. Since surface books were not allowed to encourage curiosity about the outside world, I was surprised to see Doon so casually refer to an old printed bug book to identify the beetle.

Paper and pencils are also a rare commodity, thus the need for verbal messengers. Yet the movie doesn't explain why there are messengers when paper appears to be in abundance.

The key changes to the escape methods were also strange, to say the least. The lockers/row boats were a clever design, but how was the rest of the city was going to escape if Lina and Doon activated the row boat conveyor belt without people to jump in as the boats went by? And the escape route - via the paddlewheels and generator - by flooding the river room didn't quite mesh together well at all with the locker/boat system if there's no one to catch the boats.
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Movie based on a book...
It's called The City of Ember by Jeanne DuProu
Feb 10, 2009 by Shayne Donnelly |  See all 4 posts
2011 maybe? Be the first to reply
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