"The City of Ember", 2008, DVD
If a movie is made from an available book, I almost always read the book first. I have virtually no qualifications as a film reviewer and don't post many movie reviews here but I have now watched so many movies that started out as books that I feel fairly sure of my opinions in the matter. My overall opinion of "The City of Ember" is positive. The film is a good rendition of the book.
I did not exactly picture Ember the way it is created in the film but it is pretty darn close, a testament to the descriptive skills of Jeanne Du Prau and the attention paid to those by the screenwriter. Bill Murray is perfect as the corrupt mayor. The casting of the kids (Harry Treadaway as Doon and Saoirse Ronan as Lina) is also as close to ideal as I could ask for. As to the back story of Ember, how it was formed and the plan for its evacuation; I thought that was actually clearer in the movie than in the book.
The tale was altered quite a bit in the sequences when the kids solve the mystery, especially because of the addition of some technological points, but I could see how these changes made the story more visual and the action more edgy. But the added monster? So ridiculous and totally inappropriate.
My only other reservation is that the ending did not have the emotional impact of the book. But I watched this movie with my grandchildren, ages ten, seven and four. They had not read the book but could follow the story and enjoyed it immensely. Need I say more?