Sunday, December 04, 2011

“Hugo” – Movie Review



This weekend in my movie class, we had a bonus screening of the new Martin Scorsese film, “Hugo”, starring Ben Kingsley, Jude Law and Sacha Baron Cohen. 



When an orphaned boy tries to make his way in the world, he discovers a mysterious man who runs a toy shop – but after learning his true identity, will the man reveal a secret about the boy’s late father?



In the Paris of the 1930’s, Hugo Cabret (Asa Butterfield) finds himself alone in the world after his alcoholic uncle takes him in following the death of the boy’s beloved father (Jude Law) in a fire.  Forced to both live and work in a clock tower in the city’s train station, the cruel uncle refuses to allow Hugo to continue going to school.  As a result, Hugo soon finds himself constantly getting into scrapes where he has to escape from the train station’s Inspector (Sacha Baron Cohen).  But in his spare moments, Hugo obsesses over one thing:  restoring an automaton – a metal robot his late father constructed of spare parts from the clocks he used to manufacture.

Constantly on the prowl throughout the train station for parts he can use to make the automaton work, Hugo discovers a toy store run by an old man named Georges Méliès (Ben Kingsley).  When Georges catches Hugo trying to steal from him, Georges threatens to turn in Hugo to the Station Inspector – but instead, he takes from Hugo a notebook filled with mechanical sketches for the automaton and tells Hugo he will burn it out of revenge for the things Hugo has stolen from him in the past.  In the course of trying to recover the notebook from Georges before it can be burned, Hugo meets Georges’ goddaughter Isabelle (Chloë Grace Moretz), who agrees to help. 

Eventually, Isabelle learns that she is on a much bigger adventure with Hugo, whose goal is to make the automaton work.  Along the way, Isabelle and Hugo both learn that Georges has a secret that he’s kept from everyone for many years – a secret about his past that turns out to have a direct impact on Hugo’s quest to revive the automaton.  But when they find Georges is unwilling to provide the necessary information that will be the key to this entire mystery, will Hugo ever manage to get the automaton to function again? 



As a long-time fan of director Martin Scorsese, how do I review one of his films when it has the entire look and feel of a Steven Spielberg movie?  Well, I’m not quite sure, but I’ll go about it nevertheless.  Although there are a few scenes that display the daring camera movement indicative of many of Scorsese’s films, there is precious little about “Hugo” that would make it obvious as one of this great director’s most important films – and yet it is precisely that.  It would be extremely easy to write this off as Scorsese’s attempt to make a “kid flick”, yet it is so much more than that.  In fact, late in his life and career, it is Scorsese’s way of paying homage to the history of filmmaking – a way of saying thank you to both the medium and its predecessors whose innovations inspired him to take movies to the next level. 

“Hugo” is based on a book by Brian Selznick, titled, “The Invention of Hugo Cabret”, which itself has roots in factual historic events in film.  In the dozen years or so that I’ve been taking my movie class, I’ve never heard a more eloquent, thoughtful and informative lecture from our instructor that gave the class the perfect preface to the movie we were to see that day.  During his elaborate discourse, our instructor provided us with a thoroughly detailed history of movies that presented us with an amazing context in which to view “Hugo”.  That said, you are sure to enjoy the movie even without that information because the skill with which Scorsese is able to tell this tale will reveal everything you need to know in order to appreciate the story. 

One last thought:  this movie is in theaters both in standard format and 3D.  Of course, theaters will want you to see “Hugo” in 3D because they are able to charge a premium admission for these screenings.  If you feel that you absolutely must see “Hugo” in 3D, then by all means, please do so.  However, it is incumbent upon me to inform you that while I saw this movie in standard format and not 3D (and as such cannot make a comparison), I really can’t see how 3D would enhance the story very much.  In fact, it may very well be a gimmick that in reality detracts from the story itself.  Should you see the movie in standard format and not 3D, you will probably have a better experience as the 3D may be more of a distraction. 


No comments:

Post a Comment

Speak Your Piece, Beeyotch!