Sunday, 14 June 2009

Film Ramble: City of Ember

I generally try and devote this blog to the subject of writing, and I definitely try and stay away from the subject of movies, because once I start I'll never shut up. I'm only breaking that rule slightly here, because amongst its many virtues, it's the writing aspect that makes me want to sing the praises of City of Ember.

On the face of it sci-fi and fantasy have never had more of a presence in film and on TV than over the last few years, and that trend continues this year, with most of the big summer blockbusters leaning towards one genre or the other. But each year it gets more and more obvious - especially in the case of science-fiction - that those genre elements are not much more than a veneer. Star Trek got me thinking about this, because although it was a good movie it had a dumb, dumb story, and most of the predictive elements from the original series had been stripped away in favour of the usual generic Hollywood conventions. But it was really hammered home by Teminator: Salvation, which - amongst its countless flaws - boasts a plot so bewilderingly stupid and hole-ridden that it's hard to remember what neat and imaginative ideas the franchise began with.

Anyway, if I hadn't been thinking about all this then I might not have appreciated City of Ember so much, because - although it's well made in every aspect - what really set it aside for me is that actually adds a little to the genre, rather than detracting from it by throwing up the same old concepts. Based on Jeanne Duprau's book, it's a clever twist on the old Millennium Ship concept, which it takes the time to develop in some interesting and novel ways. It's a smart, thoughtful piece of science-fiction film making, and it seems to have lost out because genre audiences overlooked it as a kid's film and reviewers failed to understand it.

So this is me doing what little I can to redress the balance. If like me you've been hankering for a well-written sci-fi movie then give City of Ember a chance.

No comments:

Post a Comment