Film Review: City of Ember

Title: City of Ember (a motion picture – based on a novel by Jeanne DuPrau).

cityofemberReleased: October 2008

Rating: PG – 95 min.

Recommended age: 8 and up.

The decaying underground City of Ember was built by the master builders to protect humanity from distinction. It has been over 200 years since the city was built and the instructions on how to leave the city have since been misplaced. Food and supplies are running low and the main generator that powers the city is deteriorating. When the generator eventually fails forever it will leave the city in utter darkness. Teenagers, Lina Mayfleet and Doon Harrow, are determined to find a way out and save everyone they love before this happens.

City of Ember is appropriate for middle-school aged children and up. The movie does contain a few scary scenes involving a giant mole-rat and some violence, which may be too much for younger viewers. Individuals who read the novel may be pleased that nothing radically different was done to the story’s plot line, but some changes were made due to the short length of the film. The fast paced story line might be somewhat obvious to older viewers and leave them wanting more. The movie does not contain inappropriate use of language, a romantic story line, or sexual content. It does contain corrupt politicians and adults who are unwilling to accept the reality that their city is failing.

Critical Reviews:
“Based on Jeanne DuPrau’s best-selling novel, City of Ember has an original premise and a fast pace — both of which are sure to entertain tween fantasy fans. The sets and costumes are great; in a nice departure from the tech-heavy dystopias so popular in other post-apocalyptic stories, Ember is a Dickensian landscape of grimy streets and scruffy urchins. Even with all of the lights hanging above, it’s a dark, dirty place” (Betsy Bozdech at

“Boasts a unique style and emphasis on discovery reminiscent of Flight of the NavigatorThe Goonies and other countless adventures comprising my cinematic diet back in the day. … Although perhaps not the ‘be all, end all’ of family pictures, City of Ember has a lot more going for it than a good chunk of the material usually aimed at the grade-school set” (Adam Hakari at

– Angela Bailey


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