Wednesday, 10 February 2010

City of Ember

I have sat on this one for a few days. Unusual for me as I usually just vomit out the first thing that comes to mind when reviewing. Something that can bite me in the arse as can be seen in my conflicting reviews of the excellent Coroline.

City of Ember is a good, enjoyable film. It has a strong hook and a progressing storyline that makes you want to continue with the viewing. Sets are truly sumptuous and acting is superb. Why isn't it a more popular film then?

Well Ember also has several things going against it. It apparently compares unfavourably with a far superior book. Something I cannot fully comment on as I have yet to read it but do understand. For example the large animals do not appear in the book, this is something I found silly in the film. Also the nature of Ember is apparently concealed in the book. It is laid out explicitly in the first few scenes of the film. With this in mind you start to see how, what could have been a brilliant film, is reduced to one that is simply “good”. In a year that saw adaptations of Narnia and Spiderwick: Ember was always bound to struggle. Unfortunately the great sets, acting and effects are not enough to make it stand out against such strong opposition and it pretty much faltered from the stalls.

The general plot is this, Ember was created as an Ark to survive a disaster. With limited resources it is in entropy. Of course it was never intended to be fully self sustaining with an expected life of 200 years. Instructions were left with one person on what to do when that time was up. Unfortunately the chain of progression was broken and the instructions essentially lost.

The film never really explains why Ember dwellers didn’t know their history or why creatures had become so large, this seems a greatly missed plot point and would add so much background to the story. One assumes there is a public order reason…but it is not explored. There is also a big question over the fate of the Emborians at the very weak ending to the film.vlcsnap-00072Overall Ember is enjoyable, it isn’t perfect however and its flaws are considerable (why did nobody turn the big wheel out of curiosity?) and this hampers the enjoyment of what could have been an outstanding film. One thing that it has achieved however is the curiosity in the novels. Once Lemony Snickett stops plaguing me i shall be reading them.

Paul out

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