Thursday, February 26, 2015
BTM Review: The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau
I feel I should remind you before I move on that this is NOT a spoilers-free blog. There are big spoilers here.
From the moment the movie opens, it's CLEARLY very different from the book. It's unabashedly its own story. Several storylines from the book are woven together, and several more are invented (giant killer moles? are you KIDDING me?) until it's almost unrecognizable.
There are several big changes, but the worst one for me is that a movable light has apparently been invented by Doon's dad. Um, hello? The only reason they're stuck in Ember is the absence of a movable light! If they had a movable light, they would have gone out into the Unknown Regions! Ugh.
The characters were aged up, and weirdly and unevenly. I just wish for ONCE when a book says the characters are twelve, the actors in the movie could be twelve. It's an entirely different dynamic. I wish, though, that they could have at least aged them the same amount. Lina was only 14 in 2008 (Saoirse Ronan), while Doon (Harry Treadaway) was 24! Less central to the plot, but definitely gross, the actor who played Looper is 20 years older than the actress who played Lizzie, which just super creepy, since he's supposed to be her boyfriend. (It's way less creepy in the book, when he's only two years older.)
Bill Murray was the mayor for some reason. I'm sorry, because I do love him, but this was a waste of his talent. The mayor is not a funny character. The mayor is a lazy, fat, deplorable character.
Another major thing that bothered me... what was the deal with the earthquakes? They're UNDERGROUND. NOTHING MOVES. So frustrating.
One last thing, a big one-- the second-worst thing: Lina and Doon spend a long time deciphering the message in the book. They eventually figure it out, and there are only minor issues when they finally get around to implementing their plan. They don't run into the Pipeworks with little to no idea what they're going to do when they get there! There's certainly not some ridiculous mechanical system for getting them out. There are simple boats with candles and matches. They lower it into the water themselves because EMBER IS TECHNOLOGICALLY PRIMITIVE. There were certainly never phones, and no one had the ability to invent things that ran on electricity.
I could rant for a full day and not be done, so I'll leave it at this: I finally understand why this movie flopped. I used to think it was just because it was an adaptation of a middle-grades book, but in reality, it was just a truly terrible movie.