City of Ember


STARRING: Saoirse Ronan, Harry Treadaway, Bill Murray

Exit strategy: Ronan and Treadaway

Ember is an underground city and the last outpost of mankind, powered for 200 years by a generator that is now beginning to fail. Beyond Ember, all is darkness and the city is a fragile bastion at best, its fate resting in the contents of a lost metal box. The urban structure is a patchwork shambles, a groaning, rusting, febrile hive of circuits and pipes underpinning crumbling buildings. Ember shakes through its blackouts like something alive, yet Lina Mayfleet and Doon Harrow (Ronan and Treadaway), who have lived there all their young lives, fear it may be dying. Is there a way out?


Based on Jeanne Duprau’s 2003 novel, Monster House director Gil Kenan’s apocalyptic caper has drawn an interesting, eclectic cast (Tim Robbins, Martin Landau and Toby Jones help make up the numbers). But Ember’s ace in the pack is the out-of-sight inventiveness of production designer Martin Laing’s massive set — a self-contained netherworld so atmospheric and ingenious I didn’t want it to end.