City of Ember

Get those lights back on!

Reviewed by: Alicia Glass
Published on: March 14, 2022 (URL is not
Available on: Hulu, Amazon Prime Video
Content release date: 2008-10-10

Reviewed by Alicia Glass

Review Rating: 8

The people of the City of Ember have lived underground for 200 years, nurtured by their generator and their comforting lights, but time has just run out and the lights are beginning to flicker.

Saoirse Ronan, of Death Defying Acts (and I loved that movie) fame, stars alongside Harry Treadaway, Bill Murray and Tim Robbins in this wonderful and underrated gem of a film.

Doon Harrow, Treadaway’s character, desperately wants to get a job working with the generator on Assignment Day. Lena Mayfleet, Ronan’s character, is a swift runner and far too precocious for her own good. And on Assignment Day, the Mayor, Bill Murray’s character, brings out the bag with the scraps of paper that have the jobs listed, and each kid picks one. (Lena and Doon trade jobs.) And thus begins the adventures of the two kids who are actually going to save the citizens of Ember! Power outages are beginning to happen in the city, as the generator is like almost 200 years old and they have no new supplies. Yep, no new supplies of any kind, like food or metal piping for the plumbing. So, the whole city is basically doomed. The Mayor, a fat and greedy man, is only interested in what he can get out of things and people, nevermind everyone else.

But the city has a secret, one that the adults have been hiding from the children for the most part. There is, or at least the Mayfleet and Harrow parents thought so, a way out of Ember, to the surface. Unfortunately, Lena’s father died for trying to find it, and of course his death was hushed up. But between Lena’s fleet feet and Doon’s desperation, (and Poppy, a relative of Lena’s) they’re determined to find the way out that the mythical Builders left for the sacred denizens of Ember!

A wonderful family movie, City of Ember reminds us that all too often, the children really will show us the way to salvation.