Saturday, April 25, 2009

City of Ember

City of Ember
2008. Rated PG, 95 minutes.
Director: Gil Kenan. Starring Saoirse Ronan, Harry Treadaway, Bill Murray, Mackenzie Crook, Tim Robbins, Toby Jones.

Plot: When the Earth's surface becomes unlivable for human life, survivors relocate to the underground city of Ember. The founders leave instructions on how to get back t o the surface to find out if conditions have gotten better. They've locked them in a box set to open in 200 years. Fast forward those 200 years and Ember is falling apart as the city's aged generator is failing. The box has been lost and the city's collapse seems inevitable.

The Good: There are a number of chase scenes that add some fun to the proceedings. This also helps move things along quickly. Our two teenage stars, Ronan (as Lina Mayfleet) and Treadaway (as Doon Harrow) give earnest performances and make us feel like they're really trying to save a dying city.

The Bad: There are plotholes everywhere. One of them literally runs around the movie eating people. Or slithers around, I'm still not sure because it looks like a giant rooster but I didn't see any legs, but nevermind. The script is incoherent. It tries to borrow from too many other, better movies and fails to assimilate them in a manner that makes any sense. The movie's more known actors whiffed. Perhaps realizing he's in a crappy movie, Bill Murray (as the mayor of Ember) seems to be constantly thinking of his next tee time. Tim Robbins (as Doon's dad) appears to be overcompensating but at least he gives it the old college try. Finally, if you're going to make a silly movie with lots of cgi, at least have good cgi. Sadly, the special fx range from barely adequate, at best, to downright shoddy. It's shoddy more often than adequate so there's no "wow" factor.

The Ugly: What eventually happens to the mayor.

Recommendation: It tries to dazzle kids with lots of excitement but it forgot to write even a decent story. At the very least, it should've given them something easier to follow then maybe it might engage them enough to care. You and the kids might sit through it all but it will likely be forgotten by the time you take it out the DVD player.

The Opposite View: Cammila Albertson, TV Guide

MY SCORE: 2.5/10

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