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. 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.
  3. 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
  4. 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.
  5. 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
  6. 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
  7. 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.