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Capone is afraid of losing his faith in CITY OF EMBER!!!

Hey folks. Capone in Chicago here. Tossing in a bit of that old time religion into what is essentially a story designed for young adults has never really bothered me. I find it kind of amusing most of the time. So hearing talk of civilization rising from the darkness into the light and ancient scriptures and mysterious unseen figures known as "the builders" doesn't faze me, at least not in a bad way. Whether it's the often-interpreted anti-Catholicism thread running through the 'His Dark Materials' trilogy, or all of the Jesus symbolism of the Narnia books, spiritual references and doctrine are as much a part of certain types of literature as they are films, although often these overtones are toned down in films. Not so much with CITY OF EMBER, a film as much about using your brain and thinking for yourself as it is about following the texts of the ancients. Based on the novel by Jeanne Duprau (and adapted by Caroline Thompson, who also wrote the screenplays for EDWARD SCISSORHANDS, THE ADDAMS FAMILY, THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS, and CORPSE BRIDE), CITY OF EMBER is the story of Doon Harrow (Harry Treadaway, who played Joy Division's drummer in last year's CONTROL), who lives with his inventor father Louis (Tim Robbins) in an elaborate city apparently located underground. If I understand the mythology correctly, the people of Ember went underground after the "end of the world." They were placed down there with a suitcase of sorts set to open up 200 years after the descent. The suitcase contained the instructions on how the people could return to the surface safely, but the suitcase was lost, and the people ended up staying down there far longer than the city was built to last. At the heart of the city is a generator that has been breaking down a lot lately, causing citywide blackouts and rumblings that feel like mild earthquakes. Doon works with the city's pipelines, but has a great deal of access to many of the mechanisms keeping civilization functional. He is friendly with Lina Mayfleet (Saoirse Ronan, best known for playing the lying younger sister of Kyra Knightley in ATONEMENT; she's also set to play the dead girl/narrator in Peter Jackson's THE LOVELY BONES adaptation), a messenger in the city who races from person to person delivering verbal telegrams. Doon and Lina find various clues that things are going horribly wrong in the city, and that Mayor Cole (Bill Murray, in one of his most head-scratching characters) and his associates (led by right-hand man Toby Jones) are not putting the community's best interests first as panic sets in with each new blackout. The young twosome put their big brains together to discover all sorts of hidden codes and rooms and agendas, and above all else, the film is a celebration of intelligence over all other things, which is quite refreshing. Kenan's exquisite visual style, so perfectly realized in the animated greatness MONSTER HOUSE, is a little more dreary in CITY OF EMBER, but there are some details in the catacombs and machinery of Ember that are well worth examining. The production design here is unreal, and reveals the city as a sort of living organism and fully realized character in this movie. There are a couple of times when the design looks more like a theme park, and those moments took me right out of the story. Despite some nice supporting roles and extended cameos from the likes of Murray, Robbins, Martin Landau, Mackenzie Crook and even Mary Kay Place, the best acting comes from the two young lead actors. Younger actors can really grate on me, but for some reason Ronan and Treadaway really impressed me. Director Kenan is clearly having fun with his gadgets and contraptions and hidden passages and alcoves. Sometimes his enthusiasm translates, and sometimes it falls short of really becoming infectious, which is what I really wanted to happen. That's absolutely nothing horribly wrong or embarrassing about CITY OF EMBER; it just doesn't always leap off the scream the way it needs to sometimes. There's a huge mole creature that slithers around Ember eating everything in sight; that is badass. But the long boat ride at the end of the film didn't thrill me the way I think it was meant to. In a lot of ways, that's how I felt about the movie itself. There are quite a few things to take great pleasure in, but overall, my pulse probably never raced once while watching the film. I'm still on the fence about this one; I think this is officially a "mixed review" from me. -- Capone

Readers Talkback
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  • Oct. 10, 2008, 12:53 a.m. CST

    I enjoyed MONSTER HOUSE.

    by Gilkuliehe

    And this seems interesting still. Amazing casting and cool concept. Pity about the mixed review.

  • Oct. 10, 2008, 12:54 a.m. CST

    will give it a go

    by mygirleatsbannanas

    Because i like Bill Murray

  • Oct. 10, 2008, 1:04 a.m. CST

    doesn't always leap off the "scream"...???

    by TheBigLebowsky


  • Oct. 10, 2008, 1:31 a.m. CST

    City of Rapture

    by Skywise

    It still looks like somebody squeaked out a movie that looked and felt like Bioshock

  • Oct. 10, 2008, 1:37 a.m. CST


    by The Drude

    Was Capone really tired when he wrote this review? 'Kyra' Knightley? Leap off the 'scream'? 'Sometimes his enthusiasm translates, and sometimes it falls short of really becoming infectious, which is what I really wanted to happen.' I keed... I may check this out...

  • Oct. 10, 2008, 2:12 a.m. CST

    So that's what happens when you film in Belfast

    by TroutMaskReplicant

    In the building where the Titanic was built. Doom. I feel bad Ember didn't turn out so well. Can we also jump to the conclusion that there was studio interference? It was co-produced by Fox (ahem) and Walden (How is this a Christian film?).

  • Oct. 10, 2008, 2:51 a.m. CST

    Thanks Harry the Orphan Work Act Passed!


    God Damnit!!! I sent this to you guys in hopes that you would spread the word and alert everyone to this evil agenda. Heres the email: <P> <P> URGENT: Orphan Works Passed in Senate / Stop it in the House FROM THE ILLUSTRATORS' PARTNERSHIP <P> Orphan Works: Risking Our Nation's Copyright Wealth ***The Senate has just passed their version of the Orphan Works Bill*** <P> Now we must try to stop the House Judiciary Committee from folding their bill and adopting the Senate version. We've supplied a special letter for this purpose. <P> PLEASE EMAIL CONGRESS TONIGHT!!! <P> USE THIS LINK <P> Harry for more detailed information on what this law puts at risk read this link. <P> <P> Personal Copyright to Art and Music are at stake. The Shock Doctrine is in effect. Bill Gates is behind it. Used to be you made something, you published it, and it was protected. You didn't have to register it to have exclusive copyright powers over it. It was your work. <P> If this law passes that will change! <P> You would have to register your Art and Music through a private registrie. <P> No more exclusive right to copyright! This is bullshit!!!!!!!!!!!!! <P> "Spider-Man comic artist Alex Saviuk is also concerned about the loss of copyright protection. "When I found out all the negative aspects of the new legislation, it would almost behoove us to want to do something else for a living," says Saviuk. "If we would have to register with all the different companies, we would never be able to make a living." "It would be impossible for me to register all my art," continues Saviuk. "It would put me out of business." <P> Please Harry for the love of all thing Creative and the Laws that previously protected those who Create. Please, Post this on your site with a link to Capwiz. So your viewers can send out automated letters to their Elected Officials to tell the House Judiciary Not To Pass this Bill! . <P> Thanks"<P> Well guess what... <P> <P> Thats What!!!! You have no idea what this means, and how Artist will get fucked over even if they sue someone who uses something they made without permission. I will end this with a qoute from a poster in the Wire Post on this Topic<P> "Well at least some good came out of the economic crisis. The "Orphan Works Act" was a terrible piece of legislation that would have only benefited media corporations, who were the most likely ones to own and run the commercial "registration" databases, where they could have charged artists and writers a recurring subscription fee to KEEP work registered, or the media companies could register a creator's work before the creator and then guess who "owns" it? And anyone who wanted to claim a work was orphaned would probably only have had to look in those commercial databases to satisfy the "reasonable effort" to find the copyright holder - effectively and automatically orphaning any works NOT registered in those databases, and offering the actual copyright holder no legal remedies against the infringement (by re-defining it as "fair use"). Make no mistake, this was an attempt by the big media conglomerates to make a massive rights grab, and to effectively privatize the US Copyright Office." <P> Thanks AICN!!!!!!!

  • Oct. 10, 2008, 3:01 a.m. CST

    for those too lazy to click


    Shawn Bentley Orphan Works Act of 2008: Copyright amendment affects photos <P> In addition to the controversial bailout bill, the Senate has found time to pass the Shawn Bentley Orphan Works Act of 2008. An orphan work is a copyrighted work where it is difficult or impossible to contact the copyright holder and the bill is intended to. <P> The bill, in addition to providing a limitation on judicial remedies in copyright infringement cases involving orphan works, spells out what is considered a "diligent effort" to search for and contact a rights holder. It also limits penalties if an infringer can prove they made that diligent effort to contact the person who owns the copyright. <P> One of the problems with the Act (besides the way it was hotlined through the Senate) is that while it suggests some methods of what a diligent effort entails, it leaves it up to the Copyright Office to draft the actual practices. Even then, they are only recommended practices. <P> This does not provide a means to protect the artist. Instead, it creates a way for people to circumvent paying for creative work. There is a similar House bill that would require infringers to file with the Copyright Office when they intend to use an orphan work. This, at least, would encourage them to do their do diligence ahead of time, instead of being pushed to do so after the fact. <P> What does this mean for photographers? We should take extra care to make sure that photos don't fall into orphan status. This is a critical issue in a digital world, where it is too easy for people to grab other people's copyright work. We need to be careful about how we distribute photos. Now, we not only need to make sure that shots are accessible, but the photographer has to be just as accessible and linked to the photo. <P> Define Hotlining: "With the House rules suspended, due to the Wall Street Fiscal Crisis, if a bill gets out on the floor, as little at 2 people can vote on the bill and it will pass. Then since it's the same bill as the Senate, it can go right to the president's desk for signature bypassing a joint House/Senate committee to make it into one bill" Read "The Shock Doctrine" or at least the wiki info on it this shit was a calculated strike. AND IT FUCKING PASSED!!!!!! GODDAMN I'M MAD AND SAD FOR ALL ARTIST !!!!!! <P>

  • Oct. 10, 2008, 3:05 a.m. CST

    what? orphans? child actors?

    by nerfherder111

  • Oct. 10, 2008, 3:05 a.m. CST

    im confused...

    by nerfherder111

    too much wordy talk make head ouch

  • Oct. 10, 2008, 3:19 a.m. CST



    Anything you make drawings, sculptures, busts, music, video, poems, short stories, photographs- You now have to register these works through privately run registry agency to receive copyright protection. You will have to pay a fee to have this done each time for each work you make and claim as your own, and you will have follow up mantinenance fees to keep that work protected. <P>Photographer, atrists, musicians, writers and crafters are mostly small business owners and this bill will remove their livelihood by putting a huge financial burden on them to maintain ownership of their own property. <P> Most artist survive on the sale of their work and are incapable of paying such fee's to do this. The Berne Convention, made copyrights for such works automatic without a notice- Well not anymore. This will affect so many creative outlets- From struggling Artists to companies like Marvel Comics.

  • Oct. 10, 2008, 3:32 a.m. CST

    Please no Script Girl tomorrow...

    by NeilF

    ...with AICN standards sink again?

  • Oct. 10, 2008, 3:33 a.m. CST

    Basically big conglomerates companies


    can steal and sell stuff you publicly posted, and you can't sue them for it, unless you filed for a copyright on it through a registry. What's worse is if they can prove (even if you did file for one) that they were unable to find you as the owner. You won't be able to sue them for the theft. This bill is fucking bullshit!!!! Shock Doctorine Indeed!

  • Oct. 10, 2008, 4:05 a.m. CST


    by kwisatzhaderach

  • Oct. 10, 2008, 4:10 a.m. CST

    Actually the Orphan Work Act

    by TroutMaskReplicant

    Doesn't affect filmmakers that much. Screenwriters already register their work and the physical act of filmmaking leaves a lot of evidence for "prior art". It would mostly affect people like visual artists and youtube video makers.

  • Oct. 10, 2008, 5:32 a.m. CST

    Moral of the story

    by Melvin_Pelvis

    Old = greedy and evil, young = selfless hero

  • Oct. 10, 2008, 7:26 a.m. CST

    Not to be a dick

    by Crow3711

    But Kyra? C'mon, this is a movie website and she's basically one of the most famous actresses in the world. It's Keira, man. I know it's not a big deal and she doesn't have any nerd cred, but at least spell her name right.

  • Oct. 10, 2008, 10:57 a.m. CST

    Just killing time until the new SCRIPTGIRL report

    by Ye Not Guilty

    Can't wait!

  • Oct. 10, 2008, 1:18 p.m. CST

    Thhe Orphan Work Act Bill passed the Senate, Not the House

    by BorinquenSon

    About a year ago I posted this on the AICN forums. Anyway here is an UPDATE on the issue: FROM THE ILLUSTRATORS' PARTNERSHIP Orphan Works: A Public Knowledge Postmortem 10.9.08 "Orphan works relief was vigorously opposed by visual artists... And while we have thought some of their concerns misguided, they did a fine job of organizing and getting their voices heard." That was the rueful conclusion Monday from the President of Public Knowledge. She was conducting a postmortem on her blog to explain why their last minute efforts to pass the Orphan Works Act failed last week. Public Knowledge is one of the key special interest groups driving orphan works legislation. And while interested parties around the country were being told all week that the bill was dead, she now confirms that there was a secret last minute push to pass it: "[W]ith the country's financial crisis raging [she writes] and Congress in the middle of deliberations over a bill to rescue our financial institutions, there was still an opportunity to get a bill done. But how? The best option was to get either House Courts, Internet and Intellectual Property Subcommittee Chairman Berman or House Judiciary Committee Chairman Conyers to take the Senate bill that passed and put it on the 'suspension calendar,' which is the place largely non-controversial legislation gets put so that it will get passed quickly. There can be no amendments to bills placed on the suspension calendar, but it needs a 2/3 majority to pass (italics added). "On Saturday, September 27," she continues, she and others "were on the phone imploring the members to move the bill...": "The negotiations went on for hours and hours on Thursday into Friday, but in the end, PK, working with the user community (libraries, documentary filmmakers, educational institutions and the College Art Association) could not agree with [sic] on language with the House staff. Late Friday afternoon, the House voted in favor of a bailout bill and everybody went home. Time had run out." Public Knowledge has a "Six Point Program" to undo existing copyright law. "Orphan Works Reform" is Number 5. And while they're "disappointed" they weren't able to pass the bill this session, she advises supporters to "focus on what positive things came out of the process, so [they] can move forward quickly next year." PK says artists have learned their lesson In her opinion, one of the "positive things" to "come out of the process" is that: "[V]isual artists, graphic designers and textile manufacturers who opposed orphan works relief now understand that they must change their business models." (Italics added.) Artists "must change their business models"? Is that a sound we hear from inside the Trojan Horse? Whatever happened to the claim that this bill was only a minor tweak to copyright law - to let libraries and museums digitize their collections of old work - or let families duplicate photos of grandma? That was the argument lawmakers heard last spring, when the bill was rolled out suddenly, scripted for quick and easy passage. But now that the anti-copyright lobby has had to fight for it, they've dropped their guard. Now it's time to openly lecture artists that the world is changing and we'd better get used to registering our work with privately owned "databases" -- at least if we want to ensure that our works won't become orphaned. But of course that was the agenda all along. PK says not all artists are misguided PK's President wants Congress to know that not all artists are "misguided" - only those that oppose the bill. Currently, 80 professional groups do. By contrast, she cites the Graphic Artists Guild as an example of artists who have learned their lesson. She praises GAG as "enlightened," because GAG supported the House version of the bill. She quotes a recent letter from GAG's President in which he admonished artists to "get real about this Orphan Works scare": "I don't think Orphan Works is going to have a dramatic influence on how we do business [he wrote], but I hope it has awakened us all to the importance of tending to business issues. If we as a community invested a fraction of the energy we've expended on an apocalyptic vision of Orphan Works into protecting our own creations, protesting unfair contracting practices or writing letters to low-paying publishers, we'd be in a far better market position than we are today. The fact is that we give away more in the every day practice of our businesses than the government could ever take from us." We replied to the GAG letter weeks ago, when it was first circulated to artists. We obviously disagree. Indeed, we'd point out that what the community of artists is doing by opposing this bill is "protecting our own creations": The Orphan works bill would have a dramatic affect on business, because it would let people infringe our work without our knowledge, consent or payment. Most people who succeed in our field do "treat art as a business." People who are bad at business can't be used as proof that successful people must change their business models. You can't justify exposing an artists' property to theft by telling him he didn't write enough "letters to low-paying publishers." What artists do or don't "give away" on their own doesn't justify government's taking anything from them. It's counter-intuitive to tell small business owners we should accept a bill that's bad for business to prove that we've "awakened to the importance of tending to business." If we don't fight to keep the work we create, that would be the ultimate failure to tend to business. A full response to the entire GAG letter is here: The Orphan Works Act was based on a premise and a conclusion: The premise is that the public is being harmed because it doesn't have enough contact information to locate copyright owners. The conclusion is that artists must change their business models. What's lacking is any evidence in between. The Orphan Works Act was based on recommendations by the Copyright Office. But the Copyright Office studied the specific subject of orphaned work. They did not study the business models of artists who are alive, working and managing their copyrights. That means there can be no meaningful conclusions drawn from their study to dictate that such artists must change their business models. From the beginning, artists have said we'd support a true orphan works bill. We've submitted precise amendments that would make one out of this bill. Our amendments have never been considered. Instead, as PK's President noted in her postmortem, their last minute strategy for passing the bill would have "put it on the 'suspension calendar.'" And "[t]here can be no amendments to bills placed on the suspension calendar..." The anti-copyright lobby is well funded. They have powerful backers. They've warned us they'll be back next year. We should take them at their word. - Brad Holland and Cynthia Turner, for the Board of the Illustrators' Partnership __________________________________________________ ____________ Over 80 organizations oppose this bill, representing over half a million creators. U.S. Creators and the image-making public can email Congress through the Capwiz site: 2 minutes is all it takes to tell the U.S. Congress to uphold copyright protection for the world's artists. INTERNATIONAL ARTISTS please fax these 4 U.S. State Agencies and appeal to your home representatives for intervention. CALL CONGRESS: 1-800-828-0498. Tell the U.S. Capitol Switchboard Operator "I would like to leave a message for Congressperson __________ that I oppose the Orphan Works Act." The switchboard operator will patch you through to the lawmaker's office and often take a message which also gets passed on to the lawmaker. Once you're put through tell your Representative the message again. If you received our mail as a forwarded message, and wish to be added to our mailing list, email us at: Place "Add Name" in the subject line, and provide your name and the email address you want used in the message area. Illustrators, photographers, fine artists, songwriters, musicians, and countless licensing firms all believe this bill will harm their small businesses.

  • Oct. 10, 2008, 1:22 p.m. CST

    Random thoughts

    by frozen01

    TroutMaskReplicant: Titanic wasn't built in a building. It was built in a shipyard. It was longer than the skyscrapers of the time were tall... <br><br>DRACULA_WANTS_THE_AMULET: Decaf tastes just as good...

  • Oct. 10, 2008, 1:23 p.m. CST

    BTW, I'm confused

    by frozen01

    What kind of dick would build an underground city that's not built to last 200 years, but then hand its citizens a "suitcase" with the instructions on how to get out of the giant metal coffin that can only open after 200 years?

  • Oct. 10, 2008, 1:23 p.m. CST


    by Toonol

    The people who complain about scriptgirl are so damn irritating and juvenile that I hope she stays on this site FOREVER. Please, if she offends you so much, just go away.<p> I'm looking forward to Ember, btw; taking my 13 year old tonight.

  • Oct. 10, 2008, 9:47 p.m. CST

    Welll since this has already been threadjacked...

    by MurderMostFowl

    DRACULA_WANTS_THE_AMULET already poured out his bleeding heart about that orphaned works act, and I don't understand his agenda... Read up anyone who doesn't understand this. You won't have to register your works, you have to copyright your works and keep your contact information up to date. BFD. The entire point of the orphaned works act is that some works have legitimately been abandoned by the rights holders and there are other artists and caring people in this world who want to use those works and derive new works from them. Remember the only reason we're in this odd situation in the first place is that DISNEY called for the near-to-endless copyrights on their property ( almost all of it from copyright expired and now public domain works ) to protect their brand. That decision has been made, like it or not. This orphan bill is trying to short cut the time limits on copyright for holders who have abandoned their works so that the public can benefit from their works without having to wait 75 years.

  • Oct. 11, 2008, 3:50 p.m. CST

    I find the "ancient scriptures" have more meaning

    by Drath

    than the summed up and out of context book reports that fuel all the hate speak. I'm curious to see the movie, but I hope, like those other flawed summaries, that it's subtext is more than just a "don't listen to any one who is old" spiel.

  • Oct. 12, 2008, 8:31 p.m. CST

    This movie pretty much sucked

    by Detective_Fingerling

    I felt like I was watching the first part of a 4 hour "mini event" from the likes of NBC or CBS during sweeps week. There were some things that worked, but overall I felt it missed on every part they wanted to be grandiose.