Director: Martin Scorsese
Writer: John Logan
Based On: “The Invention of Hugo Cabret” (Book) By: Brian Selznick
Starring: Ben Kingsley, Sacha Baron Cohen, Asa Butterfield, Chloë Grace Moretz, Ray Winstone, Emily Mortimer, Jude Law
Country: USA & UK
MPAA Rating: PG
Time: 127 minutes
Genre: Adventure, Drama, Family, Fantasy, Mystery
USA Release: 11/23/2011
On DVD (USA): 2/28/2012
Awards: 5 Academy Award Wins, 6 Academy Award Nominations, 2 BAFTA Award Wins, 7 BAFTA Award Nomination, 1 Golden Globe Win, 2 Golden Globe Nominations
A shocking surprise to many when news of the new movie “Hugo” first come out lied not necessarily with what the film was about but of the person directing it, Martin Scorsese. A man known for his rage, with films from raw crime capes to masterful period dramas and everything in-between was now doing a family friendly film in 3D, two things he has never done before. What was not a surprise was the listing of great actors to be in his cast. Could this be another masterpiece from Scorsese?
“Hugo” tells the story of Hugo Cabret (Asa Butterfield) a young boy who lives in the walls of a train station in Paris in the early 1930’s. Hugo lives in the walls because he is the person keeping all of the clocks in the station running properly and on time. Now he didn’t always live there, but after the death of his father (Jude Law) a master clockmaker, he was taken to live with his Uncle who originally maintained the station clocks but then suddenly disappeared, leaving Hugo alone. Hugo like his father loves fixing things, and he is determined to fix the automaton that he and his father were suppose to fix together. But when the blueprints are taken away by the stations toy shop owner (Ben Kingsley), Hugo starts his adventure to get it back. All of which leads him to meeting Isabelle (Chloë Grace Moretz) and after becoming instant friends, they begin their adventure that leads them to discovering much more then they ever expected.
First off it’s hard to figure out whether this can truly be classified as a kids film. Yes there are factors that make it so, but because the story on a whole never dumb itself down it seems to be grabbing the attention of adults more than kids. It’s definitely one the whole family can enjoy but who is walking away the most impressed? Now I don’t have any young kids around me that I could take to the movie to see their reaction so the above is just a guess based on the fact that at my showing there were maybe only 2 kids in the audience of mostly older adults. But moving on, Mr. Scorsese has done another masterpiece with “Hugo” and while I haven’t seen all of his work I never doubted that he wouldn’t put everything he could into it. From the first shot to the last it’s breathtakingly beautiful, using precise camera movements like the sweeping shot across the station at the beginning and the close-ups to show the exhilaration, mystery and whimsy . It’s bright and inviting and of course a very tight production with everything working together like gears in a clock. And from what I hear has outdone the likes of the 3D used in “Avatar”, I say that only because I didn’t see “Avatar” in 3D, but that being said Hugo’s use of 3D was brilliant, Scorsese knew just when to really use it and when to back off, the best use of 3D that I’ve ever seen. Along with that this really gives you a magical feeling of Paris in the early 30’s, with great set design and costumes. But what really gives you that whimsical feeling is the score done by Howard Shore, it invokes not only the feel of Paris, but the feel of it during that time with the use accordions, you can almost picture seeing someone on the street outside a café playing that lovely music. The story which is taken from the book “The Invention of Hugo Cabret” by Brian Selznick, may not be the hardest one to figure out, but it’s the underlining story that keeps you intrigued and on the edge of your seat. And like Isabelle says “It’s Neverland and Oz and Treasure Island all wrapped up into one.” But what excited me that most was the fact that along with this being an adventure that leads you everywhere, this is also a history lesson that film buffs will get a kick out of. It brings life back to what many kids now a days know nothing about, the history of films and of silent films. While the movie may or may not be about that (you’ll have to watch it to find out), it bring some focus back on it even showing some scenes from real silent films.
Of course what really pull a film together is the acting, and this is nothing short of excellence. Granted most of the film deals with our two lead kids the rest of the cast can’t be overlooked. Within the cast are 3 actors you make recognize from a series that made it’s epic finally this year. Richard Griffith, Frances de la Tour and Helen McCrory have all at one point or another been seen in a few Harry Potter films. Their role in this however small are still very enjoyable and bring some comedy and heart to the film. Others included in this with similar small roles are Jude Law, Ray Winstone, Michael Stuhlbarg, Emily Mortimer and Christopher Lee. While they all have there place in the story the two to really take notice of for their charming roles are Stuhlbarg and Lee, the latter of whom plays a lover of all books and is practically a human card catalog. But of the adults in this cast the two that make the biggest impression and are with you throughout the film are Sacha Baron Cohen and Ben Kingsley. Cohen of course is our comic relief and he as always does a great job, he keeps it low key and in the end even shows he has a heart. But it’s Kingsley that always keeps you guessing with his brilliant performance as the stations toy store owner and Isabella’s godfather, as the film starts you think you have his character pegged but as the film continues so do your views of everything. Nevertheless it’s the kids telling us this story and Scorsese picked the right two for the job. As always we can expect greatness from Chloë Grace Moretz who plays Isabelle, a brilliant and imaginative young girl who sees the world through books and until she meets Hugo that’s also where she took her adventures. But with Hugo she is getting to be apart of a real life adventure and mystery which is something she probably wouldn’t have ever done. Like Moretz, Asa Butterfield is someone else to keep an eye on, as he also delivered a wonderful performance. Hugo, like Isabelle is wicked smart and has a wide imagination. He is curious about how everything works and like everyone is trying to figure out where he belongs now that his father is dead, and Butterfield really gets that point across.
Overall “Hugo” is a joy to watch, everything from the set design to the cinematography is just magnificent. Martin Scorsese has hit this one out of the park with this humorous and intriguing adventure that is fun for the whole family and will definitely put a smile on any film buff’s face. As soon as the lights come up you’ll want to dive right back into this 3D experience with this great story and wonderful cast. This is one that shouldn’t be passed up, definitely make your way to the theater and check it out in 3D. And if your not into 3D I imagine that it will look just as beautiful in 2D, just don’t miss out on this.