City of Ember

Rated 3.0

After 200 years, an underground city for survivors of a nuclear holocaust has grown decrepit and rundown, the inhabitants having forgotten why they’re there or that there was ever a plan to return to the surface. Two teenagers (Saoirse Ronan, Harry Treadaway) begin piecing together clues to the mystery of the city, under the nose of the corrupt mayor (Bill Murray) and his shifty assistant (Toby Jones). Caroline Thompson’s script (from Jeanne DuPrau’s novel) has little real suspense, and the climax seems designed to inspire a theme-park ride somewhere. Still, the cast is appealing (Tim Robbins, Martin Landau, Mary Kay Place and Marianne Jean-Baptiste are also on hand), director Gil Kenan and designer Martin Laing instill an arresting atmosphere of oddball whimsy, and Kenan moves things along briskly.