Genre: Adventure, Family, Fantasy
Directed by: Gill Kenan
Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Harry Treadaway, Bill Murray, Tim Robbins
City of Ember is one of those diamond in the rough films, one of those films that gets released and passes by without much notice. Due to this it was pure luck that I discovered this film whilst searching through a list of films on the Internet and decided to see what it was like.
For those unfamiliar with the film, it takes place in an underground city of glittering lights known as Ember. For generations the people of this city have flourished, but when their once powerful generator begins to fail, the quest for unsuspecting Lina and Doon begins. They have to follow the clues their ancestors left behind, in order to discover a new home.
Although the film was released several years ago, its storyline is still very original. Compared to recent films City of Ember can loosely be compared to the National Treasure films, in the sense that clues have been left by people of the past which leads them on a quest to find the ‘hidden secret’. Even though there’s this loose connection to other treasure hunting/quest movies, the recovering civilisation setting adds a distinct element to the film, which squarely sets it apart.
The story for this film has been very cleverly written, definitely thinking more outside the box when it came to the location of the city, and the social workings within Ember. The amount of information provided to the audience was also cleverly thought out, showing just enough so that they know what’s going on and are intrigued to follow on, but at the same time small enough amounts that you cannot predict what’s going to happen until everything falls into place and begins to unfold.
The two main characters in this film were played by Saoirse Ronan, (who you may now know from the films Hanna and The Lovely Bones) and Harry Treadaway – two people who at the time of this film’s release weren’t very well known. By not having big name leads it takes the pressure off the film in its need to succeed, and allows the audience to just enjoy what’s happening rather than focusing on the main characters performances. Saying that there were a few familiar faces involved in this film, including Bill Murray and Tim Robbins. This mix of known and unknown cast members culminated in a very enjoyable film all round, with brilliant performances from everyone, especially Saoirse and Harry.
Another very unique factor of this film is the amount of backstory you’re given. You’re told the occasional fact or insight into why the city is there and how Ember came to be. Although some may see this as a negative aspect of the film, it adds to the films mystery and is in fact quite refreshing. By not being given all the answers it leaves things left untold; there are still those few questions left unanswered to keep the audience thinking about the film even after it’s finished.
With questions still unanswered and the film set up in a perfect way for there to be a sequel, it begs the question will there ever be follow on to this entertaining and imaginative film? Hopefully so, but unlikely. With the lack of publicity it received on release, it’s doubtful this film will ever receive the attention it needs and deserves to sway Hollywood to create a sequel.