Review: City of Ember


City of Ember is a gripping, family-friendly tale of perserverence and survival. It stars some no-name child actors amid a cast of recognizable adult faces (Bill Murray, Tim Robbins) as the residents of an underground city called "Ember".

As the story opens, we see a group of scientists in a "doomsday" scenario: Huddled around a time capsule device, they discern that 200 years is "enough" time to wait for...something. Life to be sustainable on Earth again? The planet to give itself an enema? Memories of "Hannah Montana" to fade? Who knows.

Anyways, as FerFAL would say, the SHTF--globally--and it's time to hunker down and preserve English speaking society, dangit!

So, 200 years pass, and somehow, this city hundreds of feet below ground persists, despite running short of food, sanitation, spare parts, and any ability to do more than gaze at its own navel. It's ILLEGAL in Ember to try to go outside.

Oh, and by the way, the bugs are REALLY big. Moths the size of a California Condor. Voles the size of an Elephant. That sort of thing....

We meet Doon Harrow and Lina Mayfleet, both High School graduates about to be "assigned" their future careers. You see, in Ember, everything's deterministic--you can't choose what you want to be. They have to give people jobs by drawing them out of a hat. Makes one WANTS to shovel refuse for life? Well, guess what Doon's job is? Yep, Pipeworks--trying to move sewage, basically. Lina (a great runner) gets to be a messenger, a job they invented because the phone system's been down for ~100 years or so.

We find out Ember runs off a perpetual 'generator' that resembels nothing so much as an industrial-age Tower of Babel. Basically, it's a big waterwheel, and it's breaking down, leaving the people of Ember in the dark for longer & longer periods.

So yeah, they're too dumb to fix the machines of the builders, they're running out of food, and they may soon be without electricity to provide artificial light. Also, they're 200 feet underground and it's illegal to try and leave.

Just then, Lina finds the instructions on how to leave. Thus starts the plot.

* * *

I really enjoyed the really doesn't try to be more than it is, and it's well done. The rising action and climax was gripping, and it found Whitney, Joey, and myself yelling at the screen.

The only unconfortable aspect of it all was when one considers the broader situation. Our whole planet may turn into a global manifestation of Ember, and we've got no place to escape to--sort of the same feeling I got watching "Day after Tomorrow".

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