Book to Movie – The City of Ember

Giant killer moles and humungous moths and beetles? This isn’t exactly the Ember I read about in Jeanne DuPrau’s novel. About a month ago, I read the book and loved it, and you know what that means. Yep, I had to go and see if there was a movie adaptation. There was a movie (yeah! 🙂 ), but it came with some pretty bad reviews (boo! 😥 ). Still I borrowed the movie from the library and, with very little hope, watched it.

Even with the addition of giant rodents and insects and a good number of deviations from the book, the movie wasn’t terrible. I went in expecting to turn it off in the first half hour and ended up watching the whole thing with only a touch of grumbling (ok, my mother told me to be quiet after the first few complaints). Warning: if you haven’t read the book yet, I wouldn’t read beyond this point. I spoil quite a few things in the book in reviewing the movie. So go finish that book, and then come back! 😉

On the positive side, it was a pretty entertaining movie to watch. It was family friendly, but still exciting. The main characters, Doon and Lina, looked as if they had stepped out of the book, especially Lina. By the way, the actress who plays her has a really cool name – Saoirse Úna Ronan. I am writing that name down for future novels! Anyway, I was happy to see that neither of them was turned into a rebellious teenager and neither of them fell in love (two things I was concerned would happen). I thought they looked older than twelve in the movie, but it didn’t really bother me. Poppy, Lina’s little sister, was adorable. I did imagine her a bit younger in the book, but the sheer cuteness of that little girl made up for it completely! The City itself was pretty true to the book, too, with the failing overhead lights and the crumbling buildings. The bigger plot points like needing to escape the dying city and following the map to escape stayed the same. Even some of the smaller details such as Poppy chewing on the Instructions and Lina going back for Poppy were surprisingly left in.

However, in their quest for excitement and suspense, the script writers couldn’t leave the book alone. In the movie, there was a giant mole that chased Lina and Doon and attacked the Mayor at the end. That never happened in the book. The entire sequence with the waterwheel also never appeared in the book’s pages. Minor characters changed or were added, such as Saul, the very sleepy Pipeworks manager. I could go on and on about the smaller differences from book to movie that were so irritating to me as someone who loved the book and hated to see any changes (such as the circular Instructions/map, Lina’s parents’ answering machine, the cards that formed a key – you get the picture), but still, they didn’t totally ruin the movie for me. The biggest and most irritating plot departure where I almost turned it off was the beginning sequence. In the novel, the overarching mystery, why the earth was covered in darkness, is not revealed until the end of the novel. In the movie, two minutes in and you know that Ember was underground and built for man’s protection. That made me pretty mad.

Even with all those negatives, I still enjoyed the movie, and I wasn’t pulling my hair out (too much) because of everything they changed. While it’s not a great adaptation of the book, it’s still worth watching. It was fun for me to see Ember all lit up at the bottom of the hole, Lina running around the city in her red Messenger’s coat, and Doon and Lina solving the puzzle. If you can get past the changes, it’s an enjoyable movie.

What did you think of this movie? If you saw it, what was your favorite part? Your biggest complaint? Comment below and tell me!

Thanks for reading!

~ Kayla


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