City of Ember

Two hundred years after the earth's surface has been depopulated, survivors live deep underground in a sprawling, neo-Victorian city presided over by a corrupt and complacent mayor (Bill Murray), and two teenagers (including Saoirse Ronan of Atonement) discover a secret set of instructions back to the outside world. A murky, directionless plot sinks this big-budget fantasy despite Martin Laing's elaborate production design; the dark, industrial-looking sets often recall Brazil but without that film's thrilling sense of an imagination run amok. This marks the live-action debut of animation director Gil Kenan (Monster House), and the squandered cast includes Tim Robbins, Mary Kay Place, Toby Jones, Martin Landau, and Mackenzie Crook. PG, 95 min.

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