User Score
6.5

Generally favorable reviews- based on 54 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 41 out of 54
  2. Negative: 7 out of 54
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  1. HyperS
    Jan 15, 2009
    5
    If I had to compare this movie to one thing I'd say its like a Disney World log-flume ride gone amok. Lots of absurd and pointless over-the-top mechanisms round out an end-of-the-world story filled with so many obvious plot holes that it leaves the viewer with a "Huh?" as the movie reaches its conclusion. So where did the 5 rating come from? The adventure/mystery style of this movie If I had to compare this movie to one thing I'd say its like a Disney World log-flume ride gone amok. Lots of absurd and pointless over-the-top mechanisms round out an end-of-the-world story filled with so many obvious plot holes that it leaves the viewer with a "Huh?" as the movie reaches its conclusion. So where did the 5 rating come from? The adventure/mystery style of this movie reminds me of old puzzle/adventure video games [Myst,etc] that I liked as a kid and since its a kid's movie I can overlook the implausibility of the plot line enough to give it a 5. A young kid probably wouldn't mind all the plot holes so for them maybe this movie is a 7 or 8. Final word though to the builders: Elevator! Expand
  2. JonathanS
    Jun 5, 2009
    10
    City of Ember is a fine thrilling film.
  3. Dec 18, 2011
    6
    Although it isn't much of an adventurous film but it is entertaining even though the part we want to go see is the adventurous part and it is just a mystery. It does have an extremely talented cast and some cool visual effects enough to compensate. I give this film a 61% of a good movie.
  4. HamishS
    Nov 29, 2008
    3
    Premise is okay but eventually more plot holes than you could reliably poke a stick at - you will ultimately be left disappointed by the potential and its eventual loss. Set design is nice, acting adequate but lacks a good film to tie it all together.
  5. CityofEmberEmber
    Jun 11, 2009
    10
    Awesome movie! I loved it! I especially like Lina Mayfleet!
  6. Jul 25, 2011
    0
    This movie is a complete joke to all film making. Like it went way too fast so it left a whole bunch of plot holes and terrible special effects for 2008. But thats just the beginning the movie had terrible acting. The two main characters sucked on screen. The best part of the movie was Bill Murray and even he was bad. Now that right there is almost impossible. I actually applaud theThis movie is a complete joke to all film making. Like it went way too fast so it left a whole bunch of plot holes and terrible special effects for 2008. But thats just the beginning the movie had terrible acting. The two main characters sucked on screen. The best part of the movie was Bill Murray and even he was bad. Now that right there is almost impossible. I actually applaud the director for making Bill Murray look bad. Bill Murray is a legend and he was terrible in that movie. For one he should have been in it a lot more. Two he should have been a LOT funnier. I didn't laugh once when he was on screen. Three they fattened him up terribly to fit the fat mayor character. I mean they like put a pillow in his shirt and started taping. They could have done a little better because of the fact it was an adaption of an amazing childrens book. I read it and loved it. But this movie is up next to Battlefield Earth and Transformers 2. It didn't make sense and i could make a better movie in my sleep. Expand
  7. NickK
    Jan 10, 2009
    9
    Haven't seen a good family movie like this since the 80's. The only problems I felt it had, is that it all happened a bit fast creating plot holes. But for what it was, and something we have not seen for a while, it was well done, all you credits are to damn picky.
  8. JC
    Oct 11, 2008
    3
    An utter waste. Three points for the cast, which does what it can with one of the weakest screenplays ever adapted from a very good children's book. The special effects towards the end were laughable. The spirit and tone and themes of the book were completely lost or ignored. Skip the movie, read the book.
  9. ImNoYank
    Oct 13, 2008
    8
    Cant say that i have ever heard of the book over here in the real world(Europe) but i will say that it was a very entertaining movie Im not going to give it a 10 because it is not a showstopping blockbuster like Gladiator or A New Hope. but i will content on giving this a positive 8.
  10. Zpocz
    Feb 1, 2009
    8
    a visually impressive kids movie that forgoes the patronizing, condescending tone most hollywood movies aimed at children take. instead, it delivers an interesting story and it even manages to provide food for thought for kids you might hope grow up to be aware of the fallacies of authority gone unchecked and unquestioned, and dangers of complacency. the story is in the form of a fable, a visually impressive kids movie that forgoes the patronizing, condescending tone most hollywood movies aimed at children take. instead, it delivers an interesting story and it even manages to provide food for thought for kids you might hope grow up to be aware of the fallacies of authority gone unchecked and unquestioned, and dangers of complacency. the story is in the form of a fable, so if you're looking for logical consistency then i'd suggest looking elsewhere (but really, if that's what you care about in a kids movie i'd suggest rethinking your priorities...) the plot is indeed a little bigger than the movie has room for, but it still succeeds, overall, in telling a compelling, entertaining story. unfortunately, this movie was a flop, but i have the feeling it'll be a cult classic in 10 years. Expand
  11. RobertE.
    Oct 10, 2008
    9
    The book is perfectly realized with a wonderful set design, tight plot, and fine acting in the character roles, especially, though the principals are strong also. The focus of the film, as it was in the book, is on the courage and ingenuity of the young heroine and hero. Adults can't fail to notice the metaphoric theme of a world overused and wearing out, with most everyone in denial The book is perfectly realized with a wonderful set design, tight plot, and fine acting in the character roles, especially, though the principals are strong also. The focus of the film, as it was in the book, is on the courage and ingenuity of the young heroine and hero. Adults can't fail to notice the metaphoric theme of a world overused and wearing out, with most everyone in denial or taking advantage of the situation. Bill Murray as the politician grown fat on what he steals from the people while buoying up their confidence with patriotic songs and insincere piety - an almost terrifying-good performance, especially because we see our leader making his little performance on TV almost every day now - as the economy fall apart around our ears. Expand
  12. ChadS.
    Oct 12, 2008
    5
    "Cities need a powersource/More than the elements provide/Since we built the generator/Power's been supplied." How apropos than an underground band should contribute lyrics(back in 1988) that explicates the allegorical religiosity of this underground city's belief system. Jeff Davis of the Los Angeles-based band The Balancing Act(former labelmates with R.E.M. when both bands "Cities need a powersource/More than the elements provide/Since we built the generator/Power's been supplied." How apropos than an underground band should contribute lyrics(back in 1988) that explicates the allegorical religiosity of this underground city's belief system. Jeff Davis of the Los Angeles-based band The Balancing Act(former labelmates with R.E.M. when both bands were signed to the defunct I.R.S. imprint), wrote a song called "Generator"(from their swansong album "Curtains"), which expresses the predominant opinion of the townsfolk that the generator is a mechanical deity made by man. Every year, Mayor Cole(Bill Murray) holds a ceremony so the masses can pay tribute to the Ember City founders, in the form of ritualized singing that's unmistakably gospel, sans the Judeo-Christian content. To us, their celebration looks like something out of a pagan cult, but since this society is disconnected from the civilized world that preceeded the catastrophic event which sent the whole of humanity underground, this collective exaltation of a machine, a god machine(or what is commonly called, deus ex machina), is the closest approximation to organized religion they have. "City of Ember", unfortunately, soft-pedals its most intriguing story element. Lina Mayfleet(Saoirse Ronan) won't be participating this year in the festivities, not since she found the metal box, an artifact, akin to Pandora's box(or maybe The Holy Grail), which would agitate the veracity singers, if only they knew what the "goonies" were up to. "City of Ember" neglects to dramatize this ideological conflict in favor of an action-filled final act that depressingly regurgitates Spielbergian tropes from the mid-to-late eighties. Too bad. In an earlier scene, before Lina even discovers the metal box, she poses a real threat to the hegemonic values of the ruling class in her artwork, when the pint-sized heretic envisions the physical world as we know it, by guessing the sky, and guessing it's blue. How does she know this? If "City of Ember" made much ado about its deux ex machina, it could've intrigued like Tarsem's mind-blowing video for R.E.M.'s "Losing My Religion". Expand
  13. 7b
    Oct 13, 2008
    8
    Great movie for pretty much any age - looking forward to reading the book to drink in even more of the details.
  14. Darren
    Oct 16, 2008
    7
    If you go to see a kids movie, then expect to be entertained, drop your expectations for a super fantastic film. Some films exceed childish expectations and give you more than you paid for, others don't. I expected the film to immerse my childish mind into a world that I saw in the trailers. I thought the film did a great job of creating a world that was totally dependant on the If you go to see a kids movie, then expect to be entertained, drop your expectations for a super fantastic film. Some films exceed childish expectations and give you more than you paid for, others don't. I expected the film to immerse my childish mind into a world that I saw in the trailers. I thought the film did a great job of creating a world that was totally dependant on the light the generator was made for. It had enough suspense for an eight year old to forget the obvious plot holes and shortcomings. But most children don't look for faults, they look for peril, action and adventure. And for that goal alone, it was achieved. Were there plot holes, of course there were. Why would mankind put enough idiots in the city and hope that two kids were born to solve all the problems? How could a box that was in every mayors portrait be able to be lost and fogotten. Or that one person alone would only know what his one dial would be for and not the rest? For the good of mankind we'll have a bunch of idiots kept safe. I don't think that was the plan, but thats what they seemed to film. Overall, I enjoyed the film. I got lost in the city, and the fresh idea that mankind came up with a solution to the disaster that would come; rather than have the US come up with some plan to save the day and be all heroic. Expand
  15. JayH.
    Jan 17, 2009
    6
    Imaginative, but I was not enthralled with the special effects, although they aren't bad. Good performances, interesting story, creative art direction. The score was quite good.
  16. RichardG.
    Jan 21, 2009
    8
    The movie was just good. The theme is very well made & you will feel creepy but pleasure with it. Although the plot &is a little bit letdown, but still a good movie to watch. I recommend this for family movies, not for mile high club.
  17. TommyBoy
    Oct 25, 2008
    0
    Walked out after the first 15 minutes. Could tell from the "get-go" this movie was going to be another Hollywood "craper". Got a pass for my next time movie outing. Note: If you leave a theater and your only into less then 20-30 minutes of the movie..most theaters will give you a refund in the form of a "Pass" to another movie of your choice at that time or another day.
  18. JenniferS
    Nov 16, 2009
    7
    The plot has potential meaning and mostly fulfilled this. But yes, empty spots in this movie, a few, it feels like. A bit too scary for PG... I am 20 and for someone as aiming as I am, that sewer rat, that had the face of some species of sea creature, had me closing my eyes or looking away; it made the movie much more explanatory, by far- but it would give quite a fright to even a The plot has potential meaning and mostly fulfilled this. But yes, empty spots in this movie, a few, it feels like. A bit too scary for PG... I am 20 and for someone as aiming as I am, that sewer rat, that had the face of some species of sea creature, had me closing my eyes or looking away; it made the movie much more explanatory, by far- but it would give quite a fright to even a good-hearted 8 year old. I gave this a decent, hard rating. Definitely a keeper at some point. Expand
  19. May 19, 2014
    6
    As far as film adaptations go this one gets a pass. The film more or less has everything from the book staying true to the original source material. The film has the look and feel of Ember done right. What bogs it down are some cliché story, dialogue, and characters along with some rushed plot elements and underdeveloped characters, which is common when adapting a book to film. If you areAs far as film adaptations go this one gets a pass. The film more or less has everything from the book staying true to the original source material. The film has the look and feel of Ember done right. What bogs it down are some cliché story, dialogue, and characters along with some rushed plot elements and underdeveloped characters, which is common when adapting a book to film. If you are a fan of the book check it out but make sure you keep an open mind as there are some changes made and some scenes cut out, which while they don’t ruin the movie they do detract from it slightly. Overall, this film gets a pass. Expand
  20. Oct 13, 2010
    7
    when it first came out, people enjoyed watching this movie. after that, it didn't even became one of the highest grossing movies of 2008 since it got overshadowed by another movie The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian.

    so, what about this movie? well, it lacks on both action and adventure, but as a fan of movies based on books like Harry Potter, Narnia, and The Lord of the Rings, I
    when it first came out, people enjoyed watching this movie. after that, it didn't even became one of the highest grossing movies of 2008 since it got overshadowed by another movie The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian.

    so, what about this movie? well, it lacks on both action and adventure, but as a fan of movies based on books like Harry Potter, Narnia, and The Lord of the Rings, I say it is a good one and its sticks to the source material from the book.

    Rating: 7/10
    Expand
  21. Jan 20, 2015
    6
    I caught this film on HBO and had never heard of it. I did not read the book so I can't comment on the adaptation, but I thought the look of the underground world alone was enough to recommend the movie. The acting throughout is good, but the characters did seem underdeveloped. There are a lot of big name stars in the film but they are not used to their potential, most of them gettingI caught this film on HBO and had never heard of it. I did not read the book so I can't comment on the adaptation, but I thought the look of the underground world alone was enough to recommend the movie. The acting throughout is good, but the characters did seem underdeveloped. There are a lot of big name stars in the film but they are not used to their potential, most of them getting little screen time. Bill Murray was the best part of the movie (other than the look and sets). If they would have made us care more about the characters this could have been a special film. Expand
  22. Aug 25, 2014
    7
    A good movie with a solid plot, good characters, and genuinely interesting idea.

    It was a little strange to talk about the "end of the world", considering the end of the movie itself, but I'll let that pass; what was more interesting was the idea of a world underground that has totally forgotten the humanity's past and life underground. It was almost like some dream-world with their new
    A good movie with a solid plot, good characters, and genuinely interesting idea.

    It was a little strange to talk about the "end of the world", considering the end of the movie itself, but I'll let that pass; what was more interesting was the idea of a world underground that has totally forgotten the humanity's past and life underground. It was almost like some dream-world with their new culture and habits.

    With some adventure and mystery this movie wade its way through what could have been a very dull experience, delivering a good story with nice, believable acting.

    I recommend this movie to anyone with a bit of a taste for innocent adventure.
    Expand
  23. Oct 12, 2014
    6
    Enjoyable movie, I was expecting something better from the end, good acting, I didn't get it what was the relationship between the headlines characters. The script could be better but for the public is good.
Metascore
58

Mixed or average reviews - based on 27 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 17 out of 27
  2. Negative: 1 out of 27
  1. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    63
    At its best when sticking to a classic sci-fi-fantasy format. But when it tries to be a generic thrill ride, it loses its originality and peculiar charm.
  2. Reviewed by: Cammila Albertson
    88
    A fun and moving family film with a subtly dark feel rarely seen in kids' movies since the '80s, City of Ember succeeds despite its shortcomings, not only because of its fun and inspiring story, but because most of its flaws are things kids won't notice anyway.
  3. Though the film ultimately falls short of its considerable promise, there's more than enough here to keep thoughtful moviegoers - of any age - intrigued.