City of Ember

Theatrical Release: October 10, 2008
DVD Release: January 20, 2009
City of Ember


For generations, the people of the City of Ember have flourished in an amazing world of glittering lights – underground. Built as a refuge for humanity and powered by a massive generator – this city will only sustain for 200 years. Now Ember is falling into darkness as the generator fails, and the dazzling lights begin to flicker and fade.

Despite growing concern for the future of their beloved city, Ember’s students find themselves confronting the next step in their lives. A rite of passage for all graduates, it is Assignment Day, the day on which the Mayor himself will stand before the graduating students as they choose, by lottery, how they will spend their lives working for their society. Lina, praying with all her might to be a messenger, is appalled to be assigned to the Pipeworks, the vast network of pipes underneath the city. Her classmate, Doon Harrow, who wants more than nothing else to work in the Generator, panics when he pulls the messenger assignment. The Pipeworks isn’t the Generator, but it is close enough and Doon offers to swap assignments with Lina. She is thrilled and grateful and eagerly changes jobs. Thus, an unlikely friendship is born, one that, as it blossoms, will change the course of all the lives in Ember.

Lina takes easily to the job of messenger and finds herself zipping all over Ember, delivering important missives to even more important people, including the mayor himself. At home she cares for her aging and forgetful grandmother, and her baby sister Poppy. When an old metal box is discovered in their closet, Lina’s grandmother is overjoyed. Completely sure that the contents of the box are of the utmost importance, she is completely bereft of any memory as to why.
Lina manages to jimmy the lock open, and discovers some cryptic and decrepit papers inside. Unable to piece the papers together, Lina resolves to decipher their meaning and enlists Doon’s help.

As blackouts in the city become more frequent, Lina and Doon realize that the information inside that box could lead to the salvation of their city and their fellow citizens. Now racing against the clock, the two follow the clues, cleverly maneuvering around corrupt politicians and unsavory characters hoping to keep them from their goal: restoring the light in the CITY OF EMBER.

Dove Review

Is there a way out of Dodge? Or, in this case, Ember? With the generator failing, and food supplies dwindling, hope seems dim. Yet young Doon Harrow (Harry Treadaway) and Lina (Saoirse Ronan) keep hope alive as they begin to unravel some clues which reveal that hope might exist after all. Doon learns too that his father, Loris (Tim Robbins), has been hiding some interesting information which might aid in their search for a new life. Robbins does a nice job as the father but it is a bit disappointing that he wasn’t given more to do.

The city itself is dark and gloomy, with long corridors and some clues hidden behind a secret door in one building. Yet a giant mole threatens the safety of the intrepid little band of adventurers as they pursue the knowledge which can set them free. The graduates have been assigned duties after picking jobs from a lottery. Fortunately for young Lina, who is assigned work in Pipeworks, Doon is willing to trade the position he pulled from the lottery, that of a messenger. For the rest of the workers, they must do as they are selected to do.

This movie is based on the novel by Jeanne Duprau. The film is basically a wholesome film, with just a few intense scenes such as the giant mole cornering someone, and the subject of death is briefly featured in the movie. It is refreshing that there are no profanities in this film.

Are you ready for an adventure? Do you long to see the future before it arrives? This movie is for you! We gladly award our Dove “Family-Approved” Seal to this picture.

Content Description

Faith: None
Integrity: None
Sex: None
Language: None
Violence: A giant roaring mole is loose and corners an evil character who screams before the scene cuts away; a boat goes over a long drop; a few chase scenes as the bad guys pursue the virtuous characters.
Drugs: None
Nudity: None
Other: The death of a character is dealt with; a girl lies to protect her friend; the young people of Ember give a sort of pledge of allegiance to Ember.


Company: 20th Century Fox - Walden Media
Writer: Caroline Thompson and Jeanne Duprau
Director: Gil Kenan
Producer: Tom Hanks
Genre: Adventure
Runtime: 95 min.
Reviewer: Edwin L. Carpenter