City of Ember
PG
Entertainment: +1
Acceptability: +2

Bill Murray, Saoirse Ronan, Tim Robbins, Martin Landau, Toby Jones and Harry Treadaway. Written by Caroline Thompson (Edward Scissorhands) based on the best-selling novel, The City of Ember, by Jeanne Duprau. Directed by Gil Kenan.

FILM SYNOPSIS: For generations, the people of the City of Ember have flourished in an amazing world of glittering lights - underground. But Ember's once powerful generator is failing . . . and the great lamps that illuminate the city are starting to flicker. Now, in a race against time, the citizens must search Ember for clues that will unlock the ancient mystery of the city's existence, and escape before the lights go out forever.

PREVIEW REVIEW: Some co-critics enjoyed the movie and thought it would be of interest to 14-year-old boys. Maybe. But the 14-year-old in this reviewer was not so impressed. Walden Media, a studio renown for incorporating either family values (Because of Winn Dixie, Charlottes Web) or spiritual insights (I Am David, The Chronicles of Narnia) in their productions, seemed to reverse themselves here. It's more of a humanistic rant, with youngsters rebelling against the oppressive thinking of parental figures who hold on to their antiquated beliefs. Sounds reasonable enough, but it plays like a bad version of National Treasure, where the leads keep solving the kind of convoluted clues that would baffle Sherlock Holmes. There's little real insight and almost no humor or magic.

Its filled with symbolism and metaphor, but the whole Logans Run theme of people needing to escape the confines of tyrannical thought seemed dreary to me. Perhaps I'm misreading the filmmakers intent. Whatever his purpose, the deliberate pacing was lethargic, the dialogue inane, the special effects cheesy, the two lead young actors charmless. The boy is supposed to be brave and smart, but looks as if he couldnt find his bedroom, let alone the mystery of life. And what did they light this thing with, a lava lamp?

Bottom line, its a watch-watcher. I was bored. To me the film was dark, muddled and stale.

DVD Alternatives: The Wizard of Oz. The classic Judy Garland musicals Great Oz is not all he should be - and yet, hes more. Its a film about finding your way or finding your way back.

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Its story and dialogue are witty for adults, its magical look spellbinding for kids. PG (though there is no blood and the filmmakers attempt to avoid excessive brutality, this good vs. evil tale does include violence from bombs exploding to a wicked witch slapping a youngster to wolves attacking to an all-out Braveheart-like battle; there are a few jolting scenes and several scary moments; parents should attend with little ones in order to reassure; the kids learn life lessons, the film is pro-family and the spiritual insights are distinctly biblical).

Preview Reviewer: Phil Boatwright
Distributor: Walden Media

Summary
Crude Language: None
Obscene Language: None
Profanity: None
Violence: Some action adventure peril, but nothing excessive.
Sexual Intercourse: None
Nudity: None
Homosexual Conduct: None
Sexually Suggestive Action/Dialog: None
Drug Abuse: None
Other: None
Running Time: 95 minutes
Intended Audience: Family

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