ENTERTAINMENT RATING: 7/10
The world is ending and we don’t know why. In Ember’s opening scenes we learned for humanity to survive they have to hide underground for 200 years. That’s why a group of engineers and scientists – the Builders – have crafted a city, the City of Ember, and buried it deep underground so the residents can survive the apocalypse that is presumably killing everyone who remains above.
But now, after 200 years have passed, no one alive remembers there is another world out there – they only know of Ember, and the only light they see is provided by light bulbs powered by their mighty generator. However the generator – their whole city – was never meant to last forever, and now everything is starting to break down, and they’re running out of food too. The biggest problem? No one will admit what’s happening.
So to the rescue comes Doon Harrow, a teen with a knack for fixing things who wants to have a go at working on the generator. But to get at it he has to break rules and venture where he’s not supposed to go. When Doon’s friend Lina uncovers some long-lost and only partially intact instructions from the Builders the two of them have to piece together all the clues to figure out how they can save their family and friends before all of Ember’s lights go dark.
The film has no language or sexuality concerns at all.
However, there are a couple scenes involving a gigantic mole, roughly the size of a Volkswagon Beetle (the original, not the modern version) chasing Lina and Doon. This mole can tunnel through floors and walls, and seems intent on eating them. One moment in particular gave my movie-watching companion the shivers when the Lina reaches for a box just out of reach at the very same time as the mole’s slimy pink tentacle-like feelers also reach out for the box. This could be a bit too creepy for any kids under 10, or just anyone who has an aversion to icky things (spiders, octopuses, rats, etc.). While Lina and Doon escape the mole does seem to eat someone else, though this isn’t shown onscreen.
There are also a scuffles and such, but nothing graphic gory or all that violent.
The more notable caution would be the religious aspect of the film. God is never mentioned, and His absence in a movie about a coming end to the world is glaring. Instead of Christianity the citizens of Ember have oaths of loyalty to the city, and a quasi-cult that holds the original Builders in high esteem, expecting them to come back when they are needed to set everything right.
One more note: one of the villains has a club foot, and while it is common movie shorthand to have disabled or misshapen people as villains – Jack Elam's wandering eye got him typecast as the bad guy in every Western he was ever in – it’s important to point out to our kids what’s going on here, lest they unknowingly accept as true something that just isn't so. The moviemakers are showing us a villain's inner deformity by giving him an outer one - that's the movie shorthand. But they are making a connection that just isn't so. That's why this needs to be a point in the film where we hit the pause button, and help our kids spot the lie being told.
This is another film by Walden Media, the folks behind the Narnia films, and the owner of the company, Philip Anschutz is a professing Christian who has stated the intent of the company’s films is “to be entertaining, but also life affirming and to carry a moral message.”
Some of this Christian influence is evidence in the complete lack of language and sexuality concerns. This is so rare as to be astonishing.
But a post-apocalyptic tale is not your typical family fare. And a story in which the kids get something the adults are too dumb to understand promotes an all too common and entirely unbiblical disrespect for elders.
So this is an entertaining movie, and one with no sex or language concerns, and only a moment or two of violence/creepiness. But it is also a movie that shouldn’t simply be swallowed whole as simple entertainment – it needs to be discussed.
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