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"CITY OF EMBER"
(2008) (Soairse Ronan, Harry Treadaway) (PG)

Alcohol/
Drugs
Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Frightening/
Tense Scenes
Guns/
Weapons
None None Heavy *Moderate None
Imitative
Behavior
Jump
Scenes
Music
(Scary/Tense)
Music
(Inappropriate)
Profanity
Mild Mild Heavy None None
Sex/
Nudity
Smoking Tense Family
Scenes
Topics To
Talk About
Violence
None None Moderate Moderate Moderate


QUICK TAKE:
Adventure: A boy and girl try to discover the way out of their long-isolated, underground city that's running out of both energy and time.
PLOT:
Two hundreds years after being established underground as the last bastion of civilization following an apocalypse above ground, the city of Ember is facing various problems. While a food shortage is on everyone's minds, the city's failing generator -- that supplies all electricity and light to the citizens -- is apparently starting to fail, noted by increasingly prolonged blackouts.

Mayor Cole (BILL MURRAY) tries to assure everyone that all will be fine, but for young Doon Harrow (HARRY TREADAWAY), Assignment Day couldn't come soon enough. That's when the young people of Ember learn of their upcoming vocation -- decided by the literal luck of the draw -- and Doon, son of inventor Lorris (TIM ROBBINS), desperately wants to be on the generator team in hopes of fixing it.

Unfortunately, his draw is that of city messenger, an assignment he willingly exchanges with his friend Lina Mayfleet (SOAIRSE RONAN) who drew a job working in the city's aging water pipe section. While she lives with her increasingly senile Granny (LIZ SMITH), she's essentially raising her younger sister, Poppy (AMY QUINN & CATHERINE QUINN), and longs to hear stories of her late father from greenhouse worker Clary (MARIANNE JEAN-BAPTISTE).

As she runs around the city delivering messages, including from empty stockroom worker Looper (MACKENZIE CROOK) to the Mayor, Doon begins working with pipe works veteran Sul (MARTIN LANDAU). Of course, he really wants to get inside the generator room, but while exploring for a way to get in, he makes discoveries that pique his interest in what lies outside the city in the forbidden "unknown region."

Lina, who's discovered a tattered and partially incomplete exit plan left long ago by the original builders, shares that interest, particularly due to her father also doing the same in the past. Accordingly, they set out to find a way out, but must deal with Mayor Cole's lieutenant, Barton Snode (TOBY JONES), who's determined to make sure they don't succeed.

WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
It's possible, especially if they're fans of the novel on which it's based and/or anyone in the cast.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: PG
For mild peril and some thematic elements.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
  • SOAIRSE RONAN plays a teenage or slightly younger girl who starts working as a city messenger, but really wants to find out what's on the outside of the city. Orphaned and then eventually losing her senile grandmother, she must care for her younger sister while showing curiosity and intelligence in trying to solve the riddle of how to exit the city.
  • HARRY TREADAWAY plays her friend who swaps jobs with her so that he can get closer to the city's lone generator that he hopes he can help fix. He's similarly interested in what lies outside the city and takes various risks in doing so.
  • TIM ROBBINS plays his inventor dad who's given up on his quest to discover the truth.
  • BILL MURRAY plays the city's mayor who's only really looking out for himself despite superficial public comments that would seem to indicate otherwise.
  • MARTIN LANDAU plays a veteran pipe works employee who shows Doon the ropes and risks life and limb to help him at the end, but is otherwise usually asleep at work.
  • TOBY JONES plays the Mayor's lieutenant who wants to stop and capture the kids before they make their way out of the city.
  • MACKENZIE CROOK plays the stockroom worker who's mean to Lina and Doon and is in cahoots with the Mayor.
  • MARIANNE JEAN-BAPTISTE plays Lina's adult greenhouse worker friend who tells the girl about her late father and his ill-fated quest.
  • LIZ SMITH plays Lina's increasingly senile grandmother.
  • AMY QUINN & CATHERINE QUINN play Lina's younger sister who tags along for the ride.
  • CAST, CREW, & TECHNICAL INFO

    HOW OTHERS RATED THIS MOVIE


    Curious if this title is entertaining, any good, and/or has any artistic merit?
    Then read OUR TAKE of this film.


    (Note: The "Our Take" review of this title examines the film's artistic merits and does not take into account any of the possibly objectionable material listed below).


    OUR WORD TO PARENTS:
    Here's a brief summary of the content found in this PG-rated adventure film. There's no profanity or sexual content. Violence consists of a person presumably being killed by a monster-sized mole, but this occurs off-camera. There's also some grabbing, pushing and struggling, as well as some property damage.

    Those scenes and moments of potential peril might be unsettling, suspenseful and/or scary to younger viewers, but probably few if any others. Bad attitudes are present, as is some tense family and thematic material, while some of the stunts and action might be enticing for some kids to imitate.

    Should you still be concerned about the film's appropriateness for yourself or anyone else in your home, you may want to look more closely at our detailed listings for more specific information regarding the film's content.

    For those concerned with bright flashes of light on the screen, there's some of that at various times in the film when the city's lights flicker and occasionally near strobe intensity.

    For those prone to visually induced motion sickness, there's a brief POV shot of a log-flume type experience down a tunnel in raging water.


    ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE
  • None.
  • BLOOD/GORE
  • None.
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • Doon and Lina discover that Mayor Cole has a secret and large stash of food, while the citizens of Ember are facing a food shortage. At that point, we figure out Looper is in cahoots with the Mayor regarding that, and he's separately mean to Doon and Lina.
  • Lina tells a white lie (about practicing her singing) to her new guardian when the latter asks about that.
  • Barton's men smash part of Clary's greenhouse while looking for Doon, with Barton threatening her with repercussions if she's helping the kids.
  • FRIGHTENING SCENES
  • Scenes listed here and under "Violence" might be unsettling, suspenseful or scary to younger viewers and/or those with low tolerance levels for such material, but probably few if any others.
  • Some kids might be unsettled by the narrator introducing the story by beginning with a comment about the day the world ended (but we don't know any of the related details).
  • Sul says that Doon's predecessor (working in the pipe works) drowned (thus, some kids might worry that the same could happen to Doon).
  • Lina and Clary hear a man yelling for help in the distance, and they and others then see him returning from the forbidden "unknown region," carrying an enormous part of an apparently giant beetle's "claw." City officials then escort him away for breaking the law.
  • There's a little bit of panic on the streets during yet another brief blackout.
  • Doon finally sees the city's enormous generator, but part of it's on fire and sparking, etc. One electrical charge makes its way back toward Lina, but nothing happens to her.
  • During another blackout, there's some violent shaking of the city.
  • Doon and Lina break the rules and read through the builders' sacred book, but then hide when someone comes into the room. They then flee and go into an unmarked tunnel where they again hide when two other people drop something in front of their tunnel entrance. A monster-sized mole then crawls through the tunnel (it's so big it barely fits) and then passes by. Doon and Lina then go looking for it, and then run the other way when it comes after them. Doon helps Lina climb up over some pipes into a stock room above them, but must then run away when he doesn't have time to join her. The mole then crashes up through that small opening and chases after Lina, blasting through various structures to come after her. She then hides behind a bookcase, but then reaches out to try to grab an old box, just as the tube-like structures on the mole's snout also reach out for it, eventually touching her hand. She screams, but Doon then throws various cans at the mole to distract it. It then comes at him, getting stuck in more shelving, with Doon getting Lina to run by and jump over part of it to escape.
  • Barton grabs Lina and slams her to a wall before physically escorting her back to Mayor Cole. He wants the box she's carrying, and some of his men come at her, but a blackout occurs and she manages to escape.
  • Barton's men come looking for Doon, and Lorris stalls so that his son can escape, including grabbing some of them.
  • Doon and Lina hide on the other side of a secret passage in a wall, with Barton just on the other side, nearly discovering them.
  • Doon and Lina (with Poppy hanging on her back) ascend a vertical ladder (briefly seen).
  • Doon and Lina (with Poppy in tow) see an empty escape boat get crushed by a large water wheel at the end of a channel of water. When another water wheel gets stuck, Sul sits atop it, trying to un-jam it, with Doon joining him, but then falling off and dangling from Sul's arm who struggles to pull him up. Doon and Lina then get into another boat and head toward the water wheel and appear that they're going to crash into it, but an enormous wave comes behind them and lifts their boat up and over that water wheel. They then careen along rapids blasting through a tunnel, including several steep drops (much like a roller coaster or wild log flume ride);.
  • Various lights start blowing out in the city due to a power surge, while some slight flooding also starts occurring.
  • A monster-sized mole races toward a person (seen from his POV), presumably killing him (not seen).
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • None.
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • Phrases: "Get lost again" and "Little miss nosey."
  • The stunts and other action might be enticing for some kids to imitate.
  • Doon and Lina (with Poppy hanging on her back) ascend a vertical ladder (briefly seen).
  • JUMP SCENES
  • A monster-sized mole blasts up through an opening right at Lina who's above it.
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • A heavy amount of suspenseful, ominous and heavily-dramatic music plays in the film.
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • None.
  • PROFANITY
  • None.
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • None.
  • SMOKING
  • None.
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • To get Poppy to fall asleep, Lina plays an old recording from a phone answering machine where they hear their late father's voice.
  • Lina discovers that her grandmother has died, and thus she and her younger sister go off to live with another woman.
  • About her father, Lina says she misses him so much (as Clary tells her about him and his ill-fated quest to tunnel his way out of Ember to the outside, resulting in him accidentally drowning).
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • The concept of isolating a community underground to preserve humankind as some sort of apocalypse wipes out everyone up top.
  • The film's religious symbolism and metaphors.
  • The canned food seen in the film and whether it's supposed to be 200+ years old.
  • We see that Granny is senile.
  • VIOLENCE
  • After following a rope up into an empty stock room, Doon encounters Looper who isn't happy to see him there, and grabs and then throws him down to the street.
  • A monster-sized mole crashes up through a small opening and chases after Lina, blasting through various structures to come after her. She screams, and Doon then throws various cans at the mole to distract it. It then comes at him, getting stuck in more shelving, with Doon getting Lina to run by and jump over part of it to escape.
  • Barton grabs Lina and slams her to a wall before physically escorting her back to Mayor Cole. He wants the box she's carrying, and some of his men come at her, but a blackout occurs and she manages to escape.
  • Barton's men come looking for Doon, and Lorris stalls so that his son can escape, including grabbing some of them.
  • Barton's men smash part of Clary's greenhouse while looking for Doon, with Barton threatening her with repercussions if she's helping the kids.
  • Doon and Lina (with Poppy in tow) see an empty escape boat get crushed by a large water wheel at the end of a channel of water.
  • Mayor Cole pushes Looper down, they struggle, and Mayor Cole then slams Looper's leg against a pipe.
  • A monster-sized mole races toward a person (seen from his POV), presumably killing him (not seen).



  • Reviewed October 6, 2008 / Posted October 10, 2008

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