Wednesday, October 5, 2011

City of Ember (Film)

Title: City of Ember
Category: DVD, Science fiction
Grades: 3-7
Author: Gil Kenan, dir.
Publisher: Walden Media
Date: 2008

The city of Ember has stood for over 200 years, lost beneath the Earth’s crust while the world above destroyed itself.  Now, the city is dying, the food and supplies carefully stocked by the Builders almost gone, and the mighty generator that powers the city falling to pieces.  Both Lina and Doon, newly assigned to their jobs, want desperately to find a way to aid their city and their people.  Doon, working below the city, looks for a way to fix the generator, while Lina discovers a strange box in her home with directions that appear to lead out of Ember.  With a corrupt mayor and his guards closing in, the two work feverishly to solve the puzzle and survive the harrowing journey that could save their entire city.

The book, City of Ember, was an extremely enjoyable read; unfortunately, the movie did not live up to its source of inspiration.  The casting and acting was, for the most part, atrocious, particularly Doon and Poppy, although most of the supporting cast was no better.  The exit from Ember was well done, however; the CGI helped create a fascinating series of futuristic mechanisms that made Doon and Lina’s exit far more exciting than in the original story.  Sadly, the director did not seem to think this created enough action and insisted on adding several oversized vermin intent on killing any humans they came in contact with.  While such distractions may keep a child’s short attention span, they take up time that would have been far better spent building the mystery and solving the puzzles the Builders left as well as building character and relationships.  Upper elementary children may enjoy the action in the movie, but teens and adults are apt to be somewhat bored.  Read the book.


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