I picked up the book 'The City of Ember' by Jeanne Duprau a couple of years ago, it was one of those impulse purchases based almost solely on the lovely cover design. It seemed like an interesting concept, but I never got around to reading it although it's still sitting on my bookshelf. I had a vague interest in the movie because the previews looked pretty cool, but I hadn't thought about it much before last night, when I was at Violet's and we were deciding what to see.
There were so many things that I liked about this movie! Although I didn't get a chance to read the book before seeing the movie, Violet did. She said that despite some changes, she thought that the movie stuck very closely to the book, and that they did a good job. The underground city was absolutely amazing. It was totally believable that they were deep underground and that no concept of natural light or being outside existed.
One of the things I liked most was that this was an adaptation of an intermediate reader book, meant for kids in grades 4-7 and the movie stayed true to that. The scariest parts had to do with a giant mole and a flume-like ride in a small boat, but there was barely any violence, and no romance or sex. We both felt confident that even if she hadn't been able to understand all of the plot points, her six year old would have been able to safely watch and enjoy this movie.
Bill Murray was perfect as the greedy, plotting Mayor of Ember who cares mainly for himself and his next junk food fix. It was nice to see Saoirse Ronan in this as a hopeful and cheerful child. I think the only other movie I've seen her in was Atonment, and her character in that was decidedly un-hopeful and un-cheerful. It was great to see her in something else, and I enjoyed her performance - I have a feeling that she's really going to go somewhere in the world of movies.
This movie was fun, whimsical, and with a unique plot interesting enough to entertain adults and kids alike. I'd definitely recommend it, and if you've got a kid who's a reluctant reader, this might spur them on in wanting to read the next two books in the series!
After I came home from the movie, I was eager to start reading the series, including the first book, and find out where the story goes next! I would love to see the next book turned into a movie if they do as good a job with it as they did with this one.