Linda Cook review: ‘City of Ember’ may reach audiences on streaming platforms

Local News

You know, maybe there’s more to the “service” part of “streaming services” than I had thought.

Hundreds of movies are released every year, but only a few dozen get the attention they deserve. Streaming services give viewers the chance to see of worthy films that may not have received the attention they should have upon their first release.

One such movie is “City of Ember,” a 2008 adventure starring Saoirse Ronan as Lina, a smart, resourceful teenage who lives underground in the city of Ember, a near-dystopia of the future.

The movie was adapted from the first of Jeanne DuPrau’s “Book of Ember” series.

Humanity fled to Ember, which is run by a huge generator, for safety. The generator is failing – power outages are a fairly common challenge for the scared residents. Food supplies are running low, too.

Lina is among the students who is about to receive her career assignment. She is supposed to be a messenger, but she soon begins to realize she may be one of a handful of people who can lead the others to an exit outside.

Although this was directed by Gil Kenan, the show has much the same look as a Terry Gilliam movies – think “Brazil” environments, and I love the complex, entertaining Rube Goldberg-type devices.

Bill Murray is a hoot as the sleazy mayor – how’d he get so fat, anyway? – who cares little for the people in his domain.

Grownups will draw political themes from the movie, which has a dab of violence but is suitable for grade-school-age viewers.

It’s a fast-moving sci-fi yarn which, I hope, will find its audience while families and science-fiction fans search for entertainment on various streaming platforms.

3 ½ stars

Rated: PG for mild violence.

Running time: One hour and 35 minutes.

Streaming iTunes, Microsoft Movies & TV, Amazon, YouTube, DIRECTV, VUDU, FandangoNOW, Google Play and available on DVD and Blu-Ray.

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