Reviewed by: Dymphna Meeds
|Featuring:||Bill Murray—“Lost in Translation,” “Groundhog Day,” “The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou”
Tim Robbins—“The Shawshank Redemption,” “Mystic River,” “War of the Worlds”
Saoirse Ronan—“Atonement,” “I Could Never Be Your Woman”
Martin Landau—“Hollywood Homicide,” “The Majestic,” “Ed Wood”
Toby Jones, See all »
|Director:||Gil Kenan—“Monster House,” “Poltergeist” (2015)|
|Producer:||Playtone, Walden Media, Gary Goetzman, Tom Hanks, John D. Schofield, Michael Zaltstein|
“Escape is the only option.”
“Imagine a town completely surrounded by darkness… the only light and heat coming from an aging power plant driven by a massive underground river.”
This is how Fox-Walden describes their movie based on the award-winning book by Jeanne DuPrau. And indeed Ember is dark and growing more so every day. Ever since humans left the Earth’s surface, due to something huge, and retreated to Ember, things have gotten worse. Power outages happen every day and are growing longer each time. Although many refuse to believe, it seems that Ember’s generator is dying. At least that is what Lina Mayfleet (Saoirse Ronan) and Doon Harrow (Harry Treadaway) assume. When their worst fears are confirmed, Doon, Lina, and her younger sister Poppy (Amy Quinn and Catherine Quinn) embark on the greatest adventure of their lives!
From an enjoyment point of view: This is an engaging movie. Although it moved rather fast, especially in the beginning, it provides adventurous moments, beautiful scenery and camera work, endearing characters, and perfect musical underscore! I thoroughly enjoyed the transformation from dark to light in this movie! It was inspiring and very sweet! I was kept on the edge of my seat the whole show, without being one bit frightened.
This whole movie is a transformation from dark to light in two different ways. First of all is the obvious plot line of Lina and Doon’s journey for the light of the sun of our Earth and out of the darkness of Ember. The audience and two heroes, along with a few others, know the danger the city is in and feel their pain. Like Lina and Doon, we, too, live in a world full of darkness where we must fight towards the light—the light of God. And, although our trials might be less visible to others, we battle just as great, if not greater, forces of evil in our lives that we must overcome with God’s grace.
The second transformation is from the darkness of ignorance to the light of knowledge. Mayor Cole (Bill Murray) is unwilling to believe that his glorious city might ever be destroyed. He has convinced the people that nothing can hurt them. As Doon’s manager Sul (Martin Landau) says “I don’t know. It’s not my job.” is what most of the citizens of Ember are living out in their lives. And to ensure that no one ever comes close to leaving Ember, the Mayor sets up strict rules. On the other hand, Doon’s father Lorris Harrow (Tim Robbins) tells his son to “pay attention to everything and notice everything; then you’ll know things no one else knows.” Doon follows his advice and searches for the truth. We should stretch our minds and fill them with knowledge and wisdom.
As mentioned above, Lina and Doon search for the truth. They won’t compromise their beliefs, just to follow the crowd. They are willing to risk their lives, well-being and freedom to find the truth and do the right thing.
And speaking of risking things, every good character in this movie risks immensely for others. Although Doon sometimes goes a bit far by putting himself in grave danger and stealing things, he always returns the things, and his intentions are good; he is trying to save the human race. They are also fighting against a corrupt government, so many of the things that they do should have been legal, but were too restricted.
Doon saves Lina from a giant mole moments before it eats her. Lina, on her part, works just as hard and tries to get help from Barton Snode (Toby Jones), the mayor’s top man, when she finds out that his boss is corrupt. She also cares a lot for Poppy. And Poppy does her part by helping them solve some problems and by being sweet and cheerful. It is also very sweet to see the two older children carrying her throughout the movie.
The grownups also play an important part in sacrificing themselves. The builders, for one, left clues for everyone and cared enough for humanity to help them. *SPOILER* When Lina, Doon and Poppy get to the room where the builders started, they see many signs about how to care for others (e.g. “Carry the babies”, “For the good of all mankind,” “No pushing,” etc.). *SPOILER OVER* Granny (Liz Smith) helps the girls get started with the box left by the builders. Farmer Clary (Marianne Jean-Baptiste) protects both children from the police, even though she knows she will be punished. Lina’s father dies trying to find a way out. *SPOILERS* Lorris, at first, tries to discourage his son from finding a way out of Ember. However, we learn later it is because he tried to find a way before, with Lina’s father, and doesn’t want Doon to suffer the same death. Finally, he is willing to allow his son to work for the good of all and pretends to be deaf, giving Doon time to escape. He also launches himself against the policemen to protect his son. Sul also changes and is willing to put his life danger. He also stays behind, instead of insisting on coming to Earth right away. In the very end, Doon ties the directions on how to leave Ember onto a rock and throws it back down. *SPOILERS OVER*
Job assignments are drawn out of a hat when children reach a certain age. Although there is small chance of getting what one wants, everyone works hard. Every job is shown as important. Lina proudly carries messages, and Doon makes the best of working in the pipes. As Loris says, “It’s not what you get; it’s what you do with what you get.” Family life is shown in a very positive light. We see how much Poppy, Granny, and Lina love each other. Also we see how much the girls miss their parents; every night Lina plays her sister their answering machine with their parent’s voices recorded.
The Mayor’s selfishness and greed is shown for what it is. It doesn’t try to make it look good in anyway.
Doon helps a hurt moth.
Resourcefulness is rewarded. And hope lives on in the end. ***SPOILER*** When the three first step out onto the Earth, it is night, and so they think everything is dark. However, they wake up to see the sun rising and a blue sky. We also see how Loris picks up the rock with the directions on how to get out. ***END SPOILER***
This movie is rather suspenseful and dark. Part of this is the setting, but some of it is the plot and characters. However, most of it wasn’t frightening.
The scariest part of the movie is when a giant mole chases Lina and Doon. It almost eats both of them, but they escape. However, we see it about to eat someone else later on; we see them scream and then the mole’s teeth.
Although not scary or unexpected, it is rather disturbing when Lina and Poppy find their dead grandmother.
Some other rather scary things are lights shattering and falling, power going down, talk about Lina’s father drowning, Looper (Mackenzie Crook) grabbing Doon and throwing him out into the street, Doon and Lina are almost caught sneaking several times, Lina stops a girl by grabbing her scarf, Barton Snode grabs Lina and pulls her into a room, police chase Lina and Doon—and in the process tear apart buildings and threaten people, a man is carried to jail, lots of loud noises, some things break from pressure, Doon almost falls into water, a boat is smashed, and a boat with kids almost smashes, and the children go on a crazy water ride in the boat involving several waterfalls.
The first message that Lina has to deliver is “If this is a potato, I’m 16 and sexy.” A girl also says she has a boyfriend.
As mentioned before, sometimes the characters go a bit far taking risks and put themselves in danger—or steal things.
Doon is told to “Get lost.” and “What can you do to change things?”. The Mayor laughs at Lina’s name. A clerk talks back to her costumer.
One reference is made to fate. Poppy chews on some paper—something you might not want your kids to emulate. A group of singers are rather… cheerful—to the point of stupidity and don’t seem to care for other’s well-being.
However, overall, this is a fun and engaging movie! A bit like “Wall-E” in some of it’s plot, this movie is very clean and family-friendly. Something worth discussing is the journey from dark to light in our lives. In my mind, this movie is really an allegory abaout our lives as Christians!
Violence: Mild / Profanity: None / Sex/Nudity: None
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.