Reviews Logo
SearchHomeContents PageSite Map
City of Ember (***)
directed by Gil Kenan
written by Caroline Thompson, based on a book by Jeanne Duprau
Principal Cast
David Ryall -- Chief Builder
Harry Treadaway -- Doon Harrow
Tim Robbins -- Loris Harrow
Bill Murray -- Mayor Cole
B.J. Hogg -- Mayor's Guard
Toby Jones -- Barton Snode
Lucinda Dryzek -- Lizzie Bisco
Matt Jessup -- Joss
Lara McIvor -- Roner
Myles Thompson -- Smat
Ratings are based on Rick's four star system.
One star - the commercials are more entertaining than the viewing.
Two stars - watch if you have nothing better to do.
Three stars - good solid entertainment.
Four stars - you never dreamed viewing could be this good.
Past Feature Reviews
A review by Rick Norwood

City of Ember City of Ember is a charming children's science fiction movie. My rating is based on the appeal of the movie for young children. If your child loved last year's children's fantasy The Water Horse, they will love this film as well. Intelligent moviemaking for children is not to be scorned. Teens, on the other hand, will probably be bored, because of the total absence of sex and almost total absence of violence. Adults will like it only if they enjoy children's stories, which I do. I found it slow in spots, but I'm glad I saw it, and the images will stay in my mind for a long time. The set designs are very original, reminding me a little of the computer game Myst. The plot is also a bit like Myst, as the children run from place to place piecing together clues about the secret of Ember.

There is some fine acting by Martin Landau and Bill Murray in small roles. The main problem with the film is that there are huge plot holes (literally), especially near the end, that even children will spot.

It was made in Northern Ireland. The US cinema seems to have given up on science fiction entirely, except for superheroes, and so it remains for films made overseas to keep science fiction cinema alive.

We seem to have given up on space -- the Final Frontier didn't prove as exciting as we hoped. City of Ember is set underground, so, as best I can tell, no 2008 film will boldly go where no person has gone before. I don't count the Star Wars animated "movie," which is really a tv cartoon shown on the big screen. In 2007, there was just one outer space film, Sunshine. The last big budget outer space epic was Serenity, in 2005. The new Star Trek has been pushed back to 2009. We haven't seen a decade with as little film sf as this one since the 1940s.

Copyright © 2008 Rick Norwood

Rick Norwood is a mathematician and writer whose small press publishing house, Manuscript Press, has published books by Hal Clement, R.A. Lafferty, and Hal Foster. He is also the editor of Comics Revue Monthly, which publishes such classic comic strips as Flash Gordon, Sky Masters, Modesty Blaise, Tarzan, Odd Bodkins, Casey Ruggles, The Phantom, Gasoline Alley, Krazy Kat, Alley Oop, Little Orphan Annie, Barnaby, Buz Sawyer, and Steve Canyon.

SearchContents PageSite MapContact UsCopyright

If you find any errors, typos or other stuff worth mentioning, please send it to
Copyright © 1996-2014 SF Site All Rights Reserved Worldwide