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City of Ember (2008)

Saoirse Ronan , Toby Jones , Gil Kenan  |  PG |  DVD
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (256 customer reviews)

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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: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (256 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,627 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "City of Ember" on IMDb

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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!

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
76 of 80 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A pretty good evening's entertainment January 24, 2009
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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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
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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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Amazing cast, stellar set design, fun story April 22, 2010
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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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Underrated Classic March 20, 2011
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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Check this one out! October 10, 2009
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I don't typically review movies I watch (if I did that I'd be posting about 4 reviews per day) but I came across one that I feel has been severely under-appreciated. I have occasionally come across City of Ember on Netflix and finally got around to watching it. I had my brother watch it with me, and even he turned to me and said, "They advertise the wrong movies." We both agreed it was an incredibly unique and enjoyable movie, and of much higher quality than most movies that have come out recently!

The movie is about a city called Ember that was created when the world was ending. The greatest minds of the time gathered and decided the city would be cut off from the rest of the world for 200 years, hopefully enough time for any radioactivity or whatever else to diminish. At the end of the 200 years, a box was to open that would lead them out of Ember and back to the surface. Unfortunately, the box was lost and when the 200 years were up, the citizens of Ember were left in the dark, literally. The generator that had been supplying them for 200 years was dying, and the lights that supplied their city started blacking out more and more often. Two young citizens of Ember decided they needed to act, and find a way out of Ember. After finding the box, they worked to discover the way out. A fantastic adventure unravels which shows you the ingenuity of the "builders" (the men who created Ember) in their plan to release the citizens from Ember.

The quality of the movie is great (they obviously spared no expense) and the acting isn't bad either! There are many familiar faces, such as Bill Murray, Tim Robbins, Mary Kay Place, Martin Landau, Simon Kunz and Mackenzie Crook. There are also some new faces, such as the two main characters.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Picture quality was good and all but it was a bit built up ...
Picture quality was good and all but it was a bit built up for me by a friend and it didn't quite live up to the hype. plus it's on Netflix now. Read more
Published 11 hours ago by imanevildr
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
thank you
Published 7 days ago by Rob
5.0 out of 5 stars Love this movie!!
Love this movie!!
Published 12 days ago by Cassidy
3.0 out of 5 stars Lost Cause
I suppose there is room for only so many film franchise, leaving City of Ember a one-off production that leaves the viewer guessing what happens next. Read more
Published 14 days ago by James Ferguson
4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful and original
One of the most original and touching sci fi movies I have seen in years. I normally don't go for the family friendly touching movies but this was really good. Read more
Published 18 days ago by Ansgar Odinson
4.0 out of 5 stars I really enjoyed this movie
I really enjoyed this movie. You don't hear too much about it - and I'm not sure why. I'm a big fan of Saoirse Ronan.
Published 26 days ago by Sophie Shopper
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good movie. Felt like it was leasving out details.
I really enjoyed this film. It was visually stunning. The acting was superb. And the story was great. Read more
Published 29 days ago by Skipjacks
1.0 out of 5 stars One Star
I did not care for the movie version of this book at all. They made way to many changes.
Published 1 month ago by sheryl roche
5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable fare
I have always loved this book, so I was beyond excited when I saw that they were finally making a movie. Read more
Published 1 month ago by pollycracker8892
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
great contact
Published 1 month ago by Thomas Payne
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Topic From this Discussion
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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