I find myself less and less interested in movies nowadays unless they look good and have a plot.
I just discovered City of Ember, Kelly got it via netflix and it was fantastic. A lot of the crew is a holdover from Nightmare Before Christmas and Corpse Bride, but it manages to not be either of those two movies while still offering up a decent musical score, thematic style and plot. In fact the plot was one of the few in recent memory that avoided stupidly campy moments and nonsense decision making.
I had actually gotten the movie confused with another film released in 1995 (City of Lost Children) with similar thematic elements – if City of Lost Children wanted to play nice. City of Lost Children is rated R for a reason, while City of Ember is rated PG and it makes it thoroughly enjoyable. Despite the thematic elements of grandma dying and someone being eaten by a giant mole, the direction is the same as Nightmare/Bride where they chose to handle a potentially grisly topic without inspiring actual horror.
That being said, when I approached the movie I felt that Hellboy and Harry Potter had borrowed heavily from it but now I realize all the movies came out around the same time, so someone who builds fantastical sets from the 1950s was very busy. The market in Hellboy 2 in particular looks strikingly like the layout of the city. I think this is why it had terrible box office reception, in addition to looking like these other movies it also had to compete with them for moviegoer eyes and dollars and it wasn’t advertised much. I can’t even remember seeing a commercial for it.
It’s entirely worthc checking out.