If you're looking for a kick-butt post-apocalyptic film involving a giant underground city, huge creatures, and a corrupt government, then... sorry, but you'll have to settle for City of Ember. While this film isn't terrible or anything, it just seems like it could have been SOOOOO much better, especially with the cool scenario that was setup. But instead of a tense action-adventure flick about two teens skirting a corrupt government in order to find the truth behind a book belonging to the ancient builders of the city and find out what lies outside their universe, what we get is a mild mystery between two characters that are supposed to be about 12 years old, even though only one actually looks that age, while the other is obviously in their twenties.
The film starts out showing us a bunch of important dudes locking away some kind of instructions or map or something in a box that is set to unlock itself in 200 years. We gather from their conversation that there has been some kind of major disaster which made the surface of the planet unlivable, and are shown that they have, in fact, built a ginormous underground city for everyone to live while the Earth has time to heal itself. Then we see time pass, showing each mayor of the city pass the locked box down to the next mayor, until finally one mayor ups and croaks without passing down the box. And thus, it becomes lost in a closet somewhere....
A few generations have passed since then, and now we find ourselves at what looks to be a junior high school class graduation. There are no diplomas being handed out, however. Instead, the mayor of the city goes around to each student (there looks to be maybe 20 all together) and has them pick a paper out of a bowl. On the paper is the title of the job that they will be doing for the rest of their life. Out of the two kids that we know to be the main characters, neither gets the job they want. Lina Mayfleet wants to be a messenger, while Doon Harrow wants to work in electrical engineering. Luckily they are able to trade, so Lina ends up with the job she wants and Doon ends up as a pipeworks technician, a job that is at least close to the one he wants.
Okay, so now we start the mystery portion of our film. It seems the city continually experiences blackouts that last longer and longer, and Doon wants to find out what's behind this. Meanwhile, Lina becomes witness to someone who apparently tried to venture outside the city only to return all hyper and rambling before he is arrested for venturing out. Thus, she begins to wonder what is beyond the city. And from here, a lot of time is spent on getting these two characters together and getting them interested in each other's mysteries. This part is kinda dull, as it's mostly them talking and going around the city.
Things begin to pick up towards the end of the film, but then this part feels rushed... really rushed, like you want to say "uh, perhaps you shouldn't be touching any of that yet until you've had some time to go over it a bit?" But of course they do and all this bad-CGI stuff starts to happen and then it ends. And unfortunately, the DVD is the same way... once the movie is over, that's it, you're done. There are no special features, no commentary, no behind-the-scenes featurettes, nothing. So I guess I'll end this review the same way. Later!