DVD City of Ember [DVD] [Checkpoint; Sensormatic; Widescreen] (DVD 4380571),
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City of Ember [DVD] [Checkpoint; Sensormatic; Widescreen]
Region 1 USA/CA (
The lights are going out in the City of Ember, a time-limited underground haven created some 200 years ago by the higher-ups of humanity in a world on the brink of disaster. Meanwhile, many of its literally and figuratively in-the-dark citizens don't suspect a thing. The only wise ones are two plucky teenagers (Saoirse Ronan, Harry Treadaway) who are devoted to finding--with or without the help of the cagey Mayor Cole (Bill Murray)--the exit from Ember. Screenwriting credit for CITY OF EMBER, a refreshing fantasy film based on the first novel in author Jeanne DuPrau's sci-fi/adventure series for young adults, belongs to none other than Caroline Thompson. She's a silver screen veteran of family-friendly otherworldliness who's collaborated on many of Tim Burton's most definitive projects, and indeed she's brought to this live-action sophomore effort from enthusiastic movie-geek director Gil Kenan (MONSTER HOUSE) a miniaturist sensibility reminiscent of the condensed and simply plotted eccentricity of CORPSE BRIDE and A NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS. In stark contrast to some of the more epically turgid fantasy films released in the wake of Harry Potter's first outing, EMBER harks back to the modestly scaled ethos of cinematic spectacle typically embodied by the whimsical adventure movies made for children in the 1980s. When the film's farfetched premise meets its unadorned storytelling to unfold in a neatly contained, nearly real-time episode, it renders the image of ordinary children traversing an architectural phantasmagoria with the kind of paradoxical patina of fluffy-yet-provocative fantasy that can stimulate the imaginations of both kids and adults. The movie's neon-filamented aesthetic, a post-apocalyptic pastiche of industrialization, is sometimes evocative of German expressionism. Still, including cinematographer Xavier Perez Grobiet's kinetic tracking shots, Kenan's film is not without its 21st-century elements.
- for mild peril and some thematic elements
Manufacturer Part Number (MPN): 2256339
Martin Landau, Harry Treadaway, Toby Jones, Bill Murray, Saoirse Ronan, Tim Robbins, Mary Kay Place
"[T]he elusive Bill Murray pops up, playing the pot-bellied mayor of a dying underground city. He's fun, and the movie, slathered with grimy color, looks striking."
"CITY OF EMBER, based on a popular children's book, has some strong fantasy moments and makes a gentle statement about corruption and blind faith....CITY OF EMBER provides audiences with a thought-provoking and family-friendly adventure."
3 stars out of 5 -- "Saoirse Ronan makes a plucky tomboy heroine..."
3 stars out of 5 -- "Ember is a dank urban jungle of crumbling redbricks, rusting lampposts and bleeding pipes, the kind of fantasy-sci-fi-retro world realised by Gilliam or Jeunet and Caro....CITY OF EMBER is full of sprightly visual thrills, and packed with delightful details..."
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